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Film: Music of the Heart

Film: Music of the Heart

Written by Tamara Frankel

The audience that gathered at the JCC Wosk Auditorium on March 11 was inspired by the 1999 American biographical film Music of the Heart.

The movie was a joint program of the Jewish Senior Alliance and the Jewish Community Centre, and part of the JSA’s Empowerment Series entitled BE INSPIRED.

And indeed, the audience was inspired by the dramatization of the true story of Roberta Guaspari, (portrayed by Meryl Streep), who co-founded the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music and fought for music education funding in New York public schools.


Meryl Streep, who was nominated for an Academy Award for this movie (in addition to her other 20 nominations), portrays the inspiring violin teacher of a group of children and their initially skeptical parents.  The program she initiated was eliminated ten years later and led to her early dismissal.  With toughness and determination, and the support of former pupils, parents and teachers, she plans a benefit concert, Fiddlefest, to raise money so that the program can continue.

But – alas – the venue was canceled. Thanks to Arnold Steinhardt, the husband of her publicist friend, and a violinist in the Guarneri Quartet, the concert is mounted at Carnegie Hall, with the participation of well-know musicians, including Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell.  Determination, toughness and Chutzpah have won.

The audience was moved by the film which touched their hearts and rated it excellent. The answer to the question: “what brought you to this event” was unanimous: The opportunity to interact with friends and members of the community. This by itself is inspiring.

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