Some of you are probably wondering why I posted this video link here. What does this have to do with being an expat?
The short answer is, “nothing at all.” The long answer is more complex.
The gentleman playing the cello solo in this piece is Jonathan May. I first met him 16 or 17 years ago, when he was the conductor and artistic director for a youth orchestra in which my son played violin.
Over the years, I got to know Jonathan as we worked with a small but dedicated nucleus of concerned parents and educators to form a new youth orchestra, an effort that eventually gave birth to the Florida Young Artists Orchestra in Orlando, FL. I served on the Board of Directors for the first two tumultuous years of that organization’s existence, and was privileged to work closely with Jonathan during that time.
Since then, my daughter has also been a violinist in the FYAO.
The video clip above was recorded one year ago, at a concert of the FYAO Chamber Symphony. Jonathan May played the cello solo while his brother, the talented movie composer Daniel May, conducted. Another member of the family, Jonathan’s youngest son Nathan, played stand-up bass. He’s the bassist closest to the camera when it pans to the right, about two thirds of the way through the piece.
The reason for my posting all this is to honor the memory of a man who had an enormous positive influence on the music education of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young people. Sadly, he passed away this afternoon after suffering a massive stroke. He leaves his wife, cellist Maureen May, and four musically accomplished children, along with other family and a powerful legacy of music education.
Jonathan embodied an attitude toward music that is sadly lacking in our public education in the United States, and gave his orchestras the opportunity to travel to other countries to perform and to learn. He knew — none better — that music is, truly, a universal language and he was its wonderful ambassador.
His energy and enthusiasm, his dedication to young people, his vision and leadership, and his personal warmth will be sorely missed.
Music lovers may want to sample some of the other Florida Young Artists Orchestra videos available on YouTube. Click here for a list.
* Those of you who are of my generation will recognize the significance of this post’s title immediately. But for those of you who were born within the last quarter century, here’s a little explanation. Back in 1971 or thereabouts, Don McLean released a song with that title. The last two lines of the first verse were,
“But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.”
You can find the complete lyrics here