If you thought a fiddler on a roof was in a precarious position, imagine what happens when a middle-aged professor with a bad back takes up the cello.
Ari Goldman hasn’t played in twenty-five years, but he’s decided to give the cello one last chance. He’s not that good. But never mind. First he secures a seat in his eleven-year-old son’s youth orchestra, and then he’s ready for the big time: the Late Starters Orchestra of New York City—a bona fide amateur chamber orchestra for beginning or recently returning adult players.
We accompany Goldman to LSO rehearsals (their motto is “If you think you can play, you can”) and sit in on his son’s Suzuki lessons (where we find out that children do indeed learn differently from adults). As Goldman meditates on the mysteries of the cello itself, we wonder with him if he’ll be good enough to perform at his next birthday party. Coming to the rescue is the ghost of Goldman’s very first cello teacher, Mr. J, who continues to inspire and guide him—about music and more—through this enchanting midlife journey.
The Late Starters Orchestra reminds us that with a band of friends behind us, anything is possible.