The Late Starter's Orchestra

After years of sitting with his son through Suzuki cello lessons, Ari decided to try playing for himself. Ari was a late-starter. He didn't begin lessons as a child; he started at age 26, and he never got to be really good at cello playing. He put it down for years and then picked it up again.

The unifying thread running through “The Late Starter’s Orchestra” is Ari’s desire to play a cello solo at his 60th birthday party.

Ari Goldman takes the reader through a comfortable browse of the professional and amateur music worlds, focusing on the New York Late-Starters Orchestra. The NYLSO was inspired by the East London Late-Starters Orchestra. (Goldman likes to say that he plays with the LSO, leaving out the NY, so that people may mistakenly think that he plays with the London Symphony Orchestra.)

Goldman never did anything halfway. For years, he was a reporter for the New York Times. He left that job to take a teaching position at Columbia University. When he re-tackled the cello in preparation for his sixtieth birthday, he did so with a single-mindedness that sometimes caused friction at home. But, oh, what joy the music brought him!

As an on-again/off-again oboe player who never was and never will be very good at it, I found this book to be especially encouraging. One doesn't need to be a great musician to enjoy playing an instrument and to enjoy playing with other not-so-great musicians. New York and East London have their Late-Starters Orchestras. Edinburgh has its Really Terrible Orchestra. Portsmouth has its Sinfonia. Maybe some day we will have the Franklin County Cacophony.