By Jacqueline Rosenblatt
April 19, 2019
We recently received this letter from a past performing member and we are delighted to share it with you today.
An episode occurred in my life that brought my attention to the existence of an organization called the Friday Morning Music Club. It was summer 1965, and the Rosenblatt family (four children and their parents) was packing to move from a rental into a new home in Silver Spring, MD. We had recently returned to the USA from Liberia and Greece, where Mr. Rosenblatt had been building radio stations for Voice of America. We had been scheduled to go back to Greece, but political disturbances there prevented any return.
One day, amidst mountains of packing boxes, the telephone rang. It was my old friend Helen May. She and I were both graduates of the University of Michigan and fraternity sisters of the national music honors society Sigma Alpha Iota. Helen had a proposition for me. Todd Duncan, Dean at the Music School at Howard University, had just listened to a young lady from Georgia who had a “most remarkable voice.” He insisted that she must be introduced to the Washington DC music society and surrounding areas by way of a recital. Would I be available to work with and prep this person—named Jessye Norman—for the upcoming concert?
I tried to explain that we would be moving right during the timeframe when I should be practicing with Miss Norman for the performance.
I finally said “I’ll have a solution and a decision as soon as I hear her sing!”
When Miss Norman arrived at my house for our session, I led her on a narrow path through the stacks of moving boxes to the piano. We started with pieces by Handel. Around the fourth bar, I could not believe what I was listening to, and I had to stop. “I’m changing my moving date, and we shall work together to present the gift that you have been blessed with.”
After our concert, the Washington Post music critic Paul Hume said about Miss Norman’s voice, “a voice like this comes by one in a hundred years.”
Jessye Norman and the Rosenblatt family became one big family and have remained so to this date. Jessye adopted us and we adopted her, and we still share and exchange joyful events and birthday wishes.
Helen encouraged me to become an FMMC member, telling me how dedicated this organization is to music. After I joined I met and made friends with Gertrude Block, Charlotte Shear, Mary Kay Traver, Pauline Futranski, Anne Schein, Jean Robbins, and Vivian Scott Ramsey— the female Horowitz. Hearing of their accomplishments and listening to many 11 AM FMMC concerts definitely inspired me. Gertrude Block, who lived close to our home in Silver Spring, had a pretty good idea of the challenges I had at home. She advised the following: “As soon as all four children are in school full time, I will introduce you to Alexander Lipsky. He will teach you new repertoire and become your mentor, and then you will have the great pleasure of sharing your music on stage at FMMC performances.”
The guidance and TLC that the FMMC volunteers offered me aided this performer to achieve happy, memorable experiences. How much I learned because of grand opportunities to play around the DC area, including at nursing homes! I not only loved playing to a very appreciative audience, but afterwards, talking to the elders and hearing their stories was a rewarding experience. The wonderful volunteers at the Club would check out the condition of, in my case, the piano to be used before every performance, no matter how small.
I shall also retain in my memory the FMMC “music village.” Over my many years at FMMC, I was able to observe how the village grew into amazing communities of musical opportunities.
I saw us engage in so many performances in chamber groups, orchestras, competitions, student membership, singing in choruses, and the list goes on. I was thrilled to participate when I could as performer or audience.
Those who volunteered demonstrated tremendous acts of kindness combined with their own love of music. The Friday Morning Music Club still remains strong in my memory, with great joy and appreciation, inspiring me during my exciting life with music always….