In many ways I feel a close, spiritual connection with Kidznotes. In grade school I begged my parents to buy a piano so that I could start taking piano lessons. It must have broke my parents heart when they told me that they had no money for that kind of thing. Many other items were ” delayed” in our household. We didn’t have a television set until I was 5. This was in 1959, a year when 90% of Americans already owned a TV. Our first record player was purchased when I was 10. I loved to listen to classical music on the radio but my dream of playing an instrument seemed like it was never going to happen.There was no music program in my all African-American grade school.
Finally, in 6th grade when I was 12, my grade school for the first time offered free instruments and lessons. My little brother and I played both wind and string instruments. I loved playing in my 7th grade orchestra. I had found classmates with similar interests. I discovered my “extended family”! My passion for classical music was noticed by all of my music teachers and I’m glad to say they nurtured my love for it. It’s hard to believe, considering my late start in music,that I made my conducting debut at the age of 15. Now, 45 years later, I conduct two orchestras in the Triangle and have conducted some of the great orchestras in America inluding the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. My “little” brother is now 58 years old and has been a cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra for 35 years.
I note all of this to say that NONE of the musical success my brother and I had would have happened without the enlightened school administrators and music teachers who said ;” These ‘underserved’ students in this community MUST be given access to instruments and music. We are GOING to make this happen.”
To those people, both known and unknown, I owe my life as it has evolved. I am grateful to them. I am also grateful to everyone involved in Kidznotes, the donors, the parents, the teachers and the students for banding together to create a musical miracle. In my recent rehearsal with Kidznotes’ Beethoven Orchestra, we were playing one of the iconic masterpieces of Western music, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. As they dug deeper into the meaning of the music I said to them; ” I can feel Beethoven in this room!” And I meant it. The spirit of this heroic and revolutionary music was being channeled by these dedicated young people who, incredibly, had only been playing instruments for a few years. I was so proud of them. During that unforgettable and moving moment we were all united, worthy of Beethoven’s determination and message.
As someone who has devoted his life to great music, I can think of no cause more worthy than that of Kidznotes.
William Henry Curry
Music Director Durham Symphony Orchestra