Our first thank you – 2009
June 18, 2009
Dear A&F Class of Music & Art 1956
I would like to thank you for awarding me such a wonderful scholarship. I am honored to graduate with the A&F Class of Music & Art 1956 Award. The Semi-Annual Concert in 2008 was a memorable experience. As a member of the vocal department, we sang the Mozart Requiem at the concert for families, friends, and a lot of alums of LaGuardia H.S. It meant a lot to me.
During my four years at LaGuardia High School, I made many wonderful and unique friends and met many wonderful teachers. Everyone in this school is unique in their own different ways, there’s no other school like this in N.Y.C. that you can just walk around and see so many people with different talents. My memories of my time here at school are special, and I am grateful for the experience.
I will be attending Binghamton University this September, and I am very excited. I would want to major in Business Management. I thank you for assisting me in attending Binghamton University. I am very excited and prepared. My experience at LaGuardia is a springboard to a great college and professional life. Without the help of the A&F Class of Music & Art 1956 award, this would not have been possible.
Thank you again for your support!
Min Qi Sun
Why I Am Contributing to M&A After Fifty Years
(1) Myra Cohen Segal
The day in 1952 that I dared to emigrate from Queens and take the M&A audition, emerging from the subterranean depths of the BMT station I saw both literally and figuratively – through the threatening forest of Morningside Park – a castle perched at a seemingly unattainable height above me.
“Upward in Wonder“, indeed, was the thrust of it all; our education, our joys and expectations in the possibilities of the arts to contribute positively to the world we live in, the amazing frequency with which our extraordinary teachers brought us to those “aha!“ moments which we would appreciate over and over again even to this day. To say that the faculty we were privileged to study under was special is hardly enough; our educational table was a feast, and it was rare and subtle and robust and grew our minds so well.
It doesn‘t surprise me that over a long career working as a professional violinist I‘ve met many musicians from our school. Neither does it surprise me that I recognize from my time in M&A so many people who are now of prominence in art and architecture, in the written and spoken word, and in countless other fields of importance. But there is more. There has always been a bond, a “recognition“, a laugh or two between old M&Aers. Anywhere, everywhere, wherever I find myself engaged in something compelling or intellectually challenging or alive with laughter or filled with beauty there will be someone who asks “Didn‘t I know you in Music and Art?“, and I am never surprised.
So I‘ve returned for the reunions, even when I lived for many years in San Francisco and the effort seemed costly and time consuming. Truth be told, there is no way I could ever repay those who were responsible for providing me with those four magical years in which I could climb up from that subway every day and enter a world whose language I understood. Whatever financial help I can give to present students I gladly do, hoping that they will be nourished and enriched by their experiences and will carry their gifts into the world.
(2) Michael Altschuler
Weekday afternoons around four o‘clock in the Lincoln Center subway, there‘s a raucous crowd of teenagers clowning, singing, dancing, and enjoying each other. They are an ethnic tapestry, NYC‘s junior United Nations, except some sport dyed green or blue hair, many carry backpacks sprayed with personalized artwork, a girl in jeans and sneakers practices an elegant pirouette. I move towards a lyric soprano voice soaring over a kid reciting a Beckett monologue. Seizing center stage on the platform, her aria rises above him and the roar of the Uptown train sending a shiver through my body. One of the kids notices me looking at them and says, “We‘re from LaGuardia High School.” I wistfully want to say, “I was one of you – fifty years ago.“
If I could, I would write a huge check and proclaim, “This is for all of you and your matchless energy. I wish I could afford to nurture every one of you. Here, use this to pay for your audition fees, to get ballet slippers, to buy paints and brushes, and to restring your violin bows. With what‘s left, treat yourself and your acting class and attend some of the best live theater in the world.“ But I didn‘t write a check on the platform so that’s why I‘m giving now. I hope you willl join me in supporting these magnificent young artists and continuing the brilliant legacy of LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
(3) Patrick Walsh
I never missed a day in the four years at M&A. Need I say more?
(4) Sandy Kazahn Masur
M&A put me into a world in which everyone (not just me) was “different“. I was and am forever thankful for this revelation. Besides being a great place to survive adolescence, it was at M&A that I internalized standards from my peers about creativity and hard work that have served me throughout my adult life. I am truly grateful and send my contribution to help support the current incredibly lucky group of students.
(5) Art Levy
Telephone rings: Hi Art, it‘s Les. Are you going to the M&A reunion? You promised five years ago and I made a note to bug you.
Arthur: I haven‘t decided and besides every call from you bugs me.
Lester: We‘re going. We‘re schlepping all the way from Los Angeles. The least you can do is think about it. You‘ll see all your old friends.
A: I don‘t want to see those people. I remember them as energetic, optimistic high school students. I don‘t want to see them as old farts.
L: They‘re the same age as you are. You‘re not an old fart.
A: If I see them, my perspective will change. My memories will get altered.
L: So, make new memories. I went to the 45th reunion and had a great time. And no one really changed. It‘s amazing that the same optimistic kids were there. It was like a trip back to see the four years that did something important to my life.
A: Well,there‘s a concert and an art show. Do you think that they‘ll be as good as we were? I still have the tapes of our Semiannual and La Finta Giardinera. As I think about it.
L: Look, tzotskala, you‘re going. It‘ll be fun. Where could you find a group of people who started their lives with the same social capital that you did? I mean, exactly the same. Look at what M&A gave to us.
A: Y‘know, M&A never asked anything in return. I‘ve always felt privileged, actually indebted. Everyone probably feels that way. It is something I never saw back then.
L: I‘m sensing guilt. So, give something back. Show today‘s students that they are getting a lifetime gift – a gift that gets returned with interest. Make a statement.
A: OK, OK already. I‘ll go. Wait, what about all my friends that don‘t want to go? What if we‘re the only ones to go?
L: Then we‘ll have someone to talk about. We‘re good that way. Bye.
(6) Barry Rein
Word of our 50th reunion at first caused me to feel only mild consternation at how soon it was after the 45th. I did not, that is, feel ready for another one, especially one with such a round and large number. Then I heard from Richard Hammerschlag, who was coming all the way from Oregon and wanted to stay with my wife and me. Of course he could. Then the same from Jon and Marilyn Garlock, coming from Rochester, New York. I began to feel closer to actually being a part of M&A, as we all were a half century ago, and volunteered to help out with the organizing.
High school was long ago and I‘ve had, it seems, several full and productive lives since then. So when I got hold of Art Levy‘s CDs of the 1956 Semiannual Concert and La Finta Giardinera, and the music frozen in them began to thaw through the imperfect speakers of my computer, I was more than surprised at the tears that welled up in me. They were, I came to realize, tears shed for the end of our young innocence, that June in 1956.
And what a glorious innocence it was! Making real music together under the loving tutelage of the M&A faculty, beginning to develop as artists, learning from each other – not many other Americans can claim that kind of support, and that good a start to their lives. I cannot help but feel, too, that we had it better than our successors: there was just something uplifting about our castle, in fact and in song, that the new building can’t come close to. So I want to again feel linked to my classmates, the stuff of reunion, but also I want to give something back to the school and its current students, something generous, so that they might come closer to having the same start that we did.
(7) Judy Aaron Auerbach
I am contributing to Music & Art because it was the formative experience of my life – more than grammar school, college, more than graduate school and law school. It made me who I am and much more than I ever could have anticipated. Just think of the 1950‘s: smart kids all of us, and without much voice in the prevailing culture – political, artistic, intellectual (yes, I do fondly remember one Republican). M&A took us out of the quotidien and the neighborhood and into a world where anyone in the school could be a friend and a comrade. Common interests made for friendships – not class, race, gender, athletics, looks. I never knew that the Eisenhower years were called the ‘silent years‘ until long afterwards. Can you think of a more vibrant time at M&A? The Weavers‘ Reunion Concert, Adlai, the Rosenbergs, Franz Kline and Helen Frankenthaler. This was the porridge of our high school years. It took us out of our boroughs; out of the commonplace. We are the very lucky and it‘s carried me for all these years.
What are your reasons for contributing?
We have the happy assignment of asking for your money, which in light of our years together at M&A we are pleased to do. We would like to raise a class gift of $50,000.00 (note the number), which the Class of ‘55 was able to do.
At some point we will decide, with your input, whether the gift will go to the general M&A fund or be limited to a specific purpose, and what that purpose should be. Whatever its purpose, though, it will help provide a better education, a better experience, and a better launch into adult life for today‘s M&Aers – as we were provided fifty years ago.
It‘s always wonderful to launch a fund-raising campaign by announcing a total of gifts already pledged, and we are especially pleased to be able to tell you that the amount pledged to date, is $16,000, a wonderful start. Several of the pledges are for $1,000, a number that sets a goal for us all and begins to put into perspective how much M&A gave to us.
For additional help putting that into perspective several of our classmates have answered the question “Why I am contributing to M&A After 50 Years.“ We hope their responses will remind you of how much the school gave to us, and how much we are in positions to pass on to our successors in this unique institution.
Artist-alumnus and fellow classmate Pat Walsh has graciously donated three of his works to our cause and your purchase of one of them will go straight to our gift. While your purchase is not tax deductible, it is a great way to acquire some fine art and contribute to the class gift at the same time.
Also, classmate Art Levy has offered us a set of three CDs of the 1956 Semiannual Concert and our performance of La Finta Giardiniera. Anyone who contributes $500 or more will receive a gift of this set, and can enjoy listening to the sounds of our performance.
A pledge form is below. We ask that you complete and return it promptly to the office of the Alumni & Friends and send in your checks promptly. Please also specify if you would like your gift listed anonymously or by name.
Most importantly, please be generous. The memories many of us shared at reunion in June just reinforced what an amazing experience we shared.
Judy Aaron Auerbach
The Alumni & Friends of
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of
Music & Art and Performing Arts
M&A 56 Class Gift Card
Goal of $50,000 to Celebrate 50 Years
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Please make check payable to the Alumni & Friends. Contributions are tax-deductible.
Alumni & Friends / PO Box 231485 / New York, NY 10023-0025 / (212) 595-1301