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Published Oct 19, 2016 at 3:22 pm (Updated Oct 20, 2016)

Published in the following NY City newspapers, October 20, 2016:
The Musicians Emergency Fund, founded during the Great Depression, has an evolving mission. It was The Great Depression and violins, flutes and pianos were left alone, untouched and gathering dust. Few people were hiring musicians.

Then, in 1931, a group of established musicians formed The Musicians Emergency Fund to provide musicians with a chance to pick up their instruments and perform before an audience.

“Professional musicians during The Great Depression had no other way to make a living except for performing music,” said Marie Ashdown, the executive director of The Musicians Emergency Fund.

When World War II broke out, the organization turned its efforts to performing concerts at military bases and providing free music lessons to servicemen.

Eighty-five years later, classical music is still in a state of emergency, Ashdown said. Jobs for classical musicians are scarce.

Most classical musicians start practicing between the ages of three and five. They continue playing their chosen instrument until they’re accepted into a conservatory. But, once they graduate, it’s often difficult to make a living, Ashdown said.

“They’ve got to find a job,” Ashdown said. “They study that instrument all their lives.”

So, each year, The Musicians Emergency Fund offers a select group of up-and-coming musicians the chance to perform at Lincoln Center — an occurrence that can alter a budding musician’s course.

“You can see what that means on their resume,” Ashdown, 89, said. “When they send that out, people pay attention.”

She said the organization believes that classical music brings people to a higher level of awareness. Ashdown calls the genre “the ultimate abstract,” in that it improves upon silence. The group works to make sure opportunities still exist for those who are passionate about Beethoven and Mozart, since that number is also shrinking.

“We are losing our audience,” Ashdown said. Most families don’t have time to sit down with their children and teach them to appreciate classical music, she said. “We’re trying to do everything to rectify that by introducing young people to classical music.”

The organization selects eight novice musicians to play in the spring and fall concert.

This year’s fall concert will take place on Saturday, Oct. 22 at Alice Tully Hall at 3 p.m. Cho-Liang Lin, a world-renown violinist, will perform along with the musicians. The concert is being dedicated to the memory of Alan Waxman, an MEF board member and legal counsel to the organization, who died in May.

Ashdown said that people have suggested she change the organization’s name, because of the alarm raised by the word “emergency.”

But, she won’t be changing it any time soon, she said.

“Emergency was not a pejorative word,” Ashdown said. “It meant helping in a fast way.”

Cho-Liang Lin

Cho-Liang Lin was born in Taiwan. A neighbor’s violin studies convinced this 5-year old boy to want the same musical toy. Thus began his musical lessons. At the age twelve, he moved to Sydney to further his studies with Robert Pikler, a student of Jenő Hubay. After playing for Itzhak Perlman in a master class, the 13-year old boy decided that he must try to study with Mr. Perlman’s teacher, Dorothy DeLay. At the age fifteen, Lin traveled alone to New York and auditioned for the Juilliard School and spent the next six years working with Ms DeLay.

A concert career was launched in 1980 with Lin’s debut playing the Mendelssohn Concerto with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta . He has since performed as soloist with virtually every major orchestra in the world. His busy schedule on stage around the world continues to this day. However, his wide ranging interests have led him into diverse endeavors. At the age of 31, his alma mater, Juilliard School, invited Lin to become faculty. In 2006, he was appointed professor at Rice University. He is currently music director of La Jolla SummerFest and the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival. Ever so keen about education, he was music director of the Taiwan National Symphony music camp and youth orchestra for four years.

In his various professional capacities, Cho-Liang Lin has championed composers of our time. His efforts to commission new works have led a diverse field of composers to write for him. The list includes John Harbison, Christopher Rouse, Tan Dun, John Williams, Steven Stucky, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Bright Sheng, Paul Schoenfield, Joan Tower and many more.

 Lin performs on the 1715 Stradivari named “Titian” or a 2000 Samuel Zygmuntowicz. His many concerto, recital and chamber music recordings on Sony Classical, Decca, BIS, Delos and Ondine can be heard on Spotify or Naxos.com. His albums have won Gramophone Record Of The Year, Grammy nominations and Penguin Guide Rosettes.

Musicians Emergency Fund (MEF) Presents

Israeli Pianist Roman Rabinovich in Recital,

Alice Tully Hall, Saturday, May 14, 2016, at 3:00 P.M.

This spring’s Junior/Senior Concert presentation by Musicians Emergency Fund (MEF) will mark the Alice Tully Hall debut recital of Roman Rabinovich, brilliant young Israeli pianist, winner in 2008 of the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition.

Born 1985 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the artist began piano studies at age six and immigrated with his parents in 1994 to Israel, where he was enrolled at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and made his solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic at age ten. Since then, his series of concerto performances has expanded to include most of Israel’s major orchestras, and to many orchestras in Europe and the U.S. as well.

Nowadays living in New York, Rabinovich moved to the U.S. to study at the Curtis Institute with Seymour Lipkin and earn his Masters degree at Juilliard, where he worked with Robert McDonald. In addition to keeping up his concerto appearances with various U.S. orchestras and a 2014 Haifa Orchestra tour of 28 U.S. cities, Rabinovich has broadened his horizons with numerous solo recitals and chamber music concerts. In 2015 he joined Liza Ferschtman in Beethoven’s complete violin/piano sonatas, and for the 2016–17 season he is embarking on a cycle of Haydn’s complete piano sonatas.

His CD debut, Ballets Russes, released by Orchid Classics, earned the Classical Recording Foundation’s 2013 Artist of the Year award. This virtuosic disc represents a specialty of his repertory, keyboard transcriptions of ballet scores —Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloë, Stravinsky’s Petrushka (a feature of his MEF recital program), and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Another angle of his multifaceted talent is revealed by his drawing and painting, which enable him to interpret visually some of the music he performs.

The Rabinovich recital presented by MEF at Alice Tully Hall on May 14 opens with Haydn’s Sonata in E-flat, Hob. XVI:49, followed by Beethoven’s Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101. The program continues with Schumann’s Papillons, Op. 2, then a premiere of one of the pianist’s own compositions, and finally the spectacular piano version of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.

Please note, this event is not presented as a fundraiser. MEF sponsors all its concerts, and musicians performing in them receive MEF performance grants.

Tickets are all $25. No charge for seniors, students and military personnel. Show valid ID at Alice Tully Hall box office on day of performance while supply lasts. Box office opens at 10:00 A.M.  For tickets by phone, call 212-721-6500. For information about MEF, please visit our website at www.musiciansemergencyfund.org or email info@mef1931.org


You are an absolute pleasure and we’re grateful to have special people like you here every year. The chaos is so much easier when dealing with classy, hardworking people like yourselves!
Tod Schrieber, Alice Tully Hall 

…..a triumphant concert  --  Rabinovich is a pianist to conjure with.  He has it all.; more than technique to buryn, he got a genuine sensibility for every different style.  He’s an artist in every sense of the word, and that goes for his draftsmanship as well.
Barrymore Scherer, author, critic art and music 

Accept this gift in appreciation of a delightful concert and reception.
Maurice Mandel

Another  wonderful performance.  ….Please accept this contribution toward a wonderful cause.
Phyllis Kenys

We had so much fun yesterday!  There is nothing like beautiful music!  Dinner was as enjoyable. 
Lesley and Grant Bowman

Congratulatons on another wonderful concert!
Helen and Jeff Friedman

It was just wonderful to hear Roman [Rabinovich] play. I’m sure we will hear a lot about him in the future.
Michele T. Classe
Thank you so much.  I just loved the concert.  He was amazing.  Sincerely
Iris R. Sheber


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All tickets: $25
While supply lasts, complimentary tickets available
for seniors, students and military, with proper identification

Musicians Emergency Fund. All Rights Reserved.
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