Grapevine: On a positive note

Funding for Musicians of Tomorrow is low, but their opportunities - including performing on a luxury liner - make them rich in another way.

Greer Fay Cashman (photo credit: Courtesy)
Greer Fay Cashman
(photo credit: Courtesy)
■ The Musicians of Tomorrow, talented youngsters from the peripheral north of Israel whose gifts Maestro Maxim Vengerow decided to develop by inaugurating a music school in the Galilee, have become the musicians of today, playing for numerous dignitaries including the president and the prime minister, as well as various organizations throughout the country and in international competitions, where some have won prizes.
Trained by Anna Rosnovsky, the former first violinist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra who relocated to the Galilee to teach musically gifted children, the youngsters recently appeared at the opening of the new Medical School in Safed and at a benefit concert at the Accadia Hotel, Herzliya, organized by the Association for Encouraging Excellence in Young Musicians.
The youngsters literally have to play for their supper because the program can survive only if it is privately funded.
The most recent once-in-a-lifetime performance was last Saturday night aboard the luxury liner The World, which docked in Haifa for the first time in its nine years of sailing around the globe. The ship comprises privately owned apartments as distinct from cabins, whose owners embark or disembark at any port of call. One of the apartment owners, Richard Harris, had heard of The Musicians of Tomorrow and suggested that a representative group of them be invited on board to perform for the passengers. Under Rosnovsky’s guidance, the children performed from a varied repertoire, received resounding applause and were asked to do several encores.
A considerable percentage of the funding for Musicians of Tomorrow comes from England or from British expatriates living in Israel. The reason is that one of the prime activists on behalf of Musicians of Tomorrow is British expat Evelyn Ross, who lives in Herzliya Pituah, as do many other British expats, and she makes sure that most of them attend the concerts.
■ A group of poets called Voices Israel, who write in English and live all over the country, met at Bar-Ilan University to hear Prof. Murray Roston present a workshop on Poetry in the Context of Visual Arts. Roston, who teaches at both Bar-Ilan and UCLA, looks for literature in contemporary changes in painting, architecture and sculpture. His lecture included examples of how much art and poetry from biblical times onwards have been inspired by conflict and power. He also demonstrated the development of varying phases in the evolvement of art and literature, citing as an example Impressionism, which had reached England as a style of art much later than it had appeared on the European continent, yet the English poets of the time had long been writing in the Impressionist style.
As many of the Voices poets are also artists, it was not surprising that Roston attracted a capacity audience, which included Prof. Emeritus Gil Herbert of the Technion Faculty of Architecture and renowned Metulla artist Helen Bar-Lev, who is also secretary of Voices Israel.
The organization’s president, Wendy Blumfield, had more than just a professional reason for inviting Roston to lead the workshop. Aside from the fact that she had been following his distinguished career for years, their acquaintance went back to their youth in London, where he had been the leader of her Bnei Akiva group in the Northwest London Wembley Synagogue.
■ Ben-Gurion University has received a $17.4 million bonanza via the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU). The gift came from the estate of businessman and philanthropist Eric Ross of South Orange, New Jersey, and West Palm Beach, Florida. In recent years, Ross and his wife, Lore (who died in 2009), made frequent gifts to BGU. They supported numerous BGU programs, including scholarships for students in need and capital projects, as well as community- service programs for disadvantaged residents of the Negev region.
As an outgrowth of their extraordinary personal relationship with BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, they also made numerous contributions to the President’s Discretionary Fund.
Ross rose from humble beginnings, fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938 with only $10 in his pocket. He arrived in New York on Kristallnacht. He started what became an extremely successful business, manufacturing plastics and vinyl products for the flooring industry, as well as compounds for the medical industry. Ross later sold his business and began his second career as a philanthropist. He gave away much of his fortune – something in the range of $250m – in his lifetime, determined to contribute to the greater-Jewish community. Education became his philanthropic passion. When Ross was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from BGU in June 2010 in a ceremony at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, he said, “What does this honorary doctorate mean to me? Well, considering that I never went to college and was forced out of school in 1933 at the age of 14 and have now received the university’s highest honor, I have not yet digested it.”
Ross died in September of that year at age 91.