Wednesday, January 23, 2019

In Bergen County, “The Gift of Music” is not just a blessing celebrated by thousands of people throughout the world every day. It is an annual gala benefit concert presented by Tenafly’s Kaplan Jewish Community Center on the Palisades’ Thurnauer School of Music.

The Gift of Music gala benefit, which will be held at the Bergen Academies in Hackensack, on Sunday, February 11, at 4 p.m., will feature a beautiful concert, performing students, distinguished guest artists and a great time guaranteed to everyone, all while helping budding musicians. It will feature mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O’Connell, winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and will commemorate the centennial of legendary composer, conductor, educator and humanitarian Leonard Bernstein, z”l.

“The Gift of Music” was established by Drs. Joan and Alan Handler to raise scholarship money for children who want to study music but who don’t have the necessary financial resources.

As a flute student at the Thurnauer School of music for the past 10 years, I can tell you this is an amazing place, run by people who have given me not only the tools to approach the flute repertory but also the foundation, support and inspiration to begin arranging and even composing pieces to play with my entire musical family. I am extremely grateful to the Thurnauer School of Music for helping me pursue this passion.

While there are other schools of music in New Jersey, the JCC’s Thurnauer School is unique in that it allows music students to study in a Jewish framework, one in which no classes or performances are held on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays and in which all food served is kosher.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of a school such as Thurnauer is its determination to offer its students many opportunities to perform. I’ve had the thrill of actually performing in Gift of Music concerts, and I understand the excitement of stepping onto that stage in front of hundreds of people and knowing that they are all rooting for us. I know the satisfaction of hearing myself play the final note of each piece and then receiving the thunderous applause of the audience.

This year, the Thurnauer School is asking all those who appreciate the value of this experience to give less fortunate children the opportunity that I was lucky enough to receive from my family. All it takes is a donation of sponsorship or the purchase of tickets to join us at the gala and experience the gift of music for yourself. The deadline for ads is January 4, 2018. Sponsorships, ads and tickets are available at www.jccotp.org/gom or by calling Nina Bachrach at 201-408-1406.

This year’s benefit also celebrates the 20-year anniversary of the Music Discovery Partnership with the Englewood Public Schools and will include performances by Thurnauer ensembles. The Gift of Music Visionary Award will be presented to Tracey Blumberg, who, together with her family, established the Audrey Blumberg Orchestral Development Endowment to help grow and develop the Thurnauer Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Diego Garcia.

The Thurnauer School of Music understands that whether a person is a 12-year-old pianist in Kenya, a 90-year-old violinist in Oklahoma City or an almost 16-year-old flautist and composer like me, the gift of music is a special present that can last a lifetime.

By Avigayil Leah Rosenbluth

 Avigayil Rosenbluth, a Teaneck resident and Youth Ambassador for Gift of Music, has been studying flute and music theory at the JCC’s Thurnauer School of Music since she was 6 years old. She is in the 10th grade at Bruriah High School.