Book Review – The Late Starters Orchestra

late starters orchestraThe Late Starters Orchestra by Ari L. Goldman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I usually enjoy reading books about music or musician, so, even though I didn’t know what to expect with this one, I had a feeling that I would find it quite enjoyable. What I didn’t expect, to be honest, was enjoying it as much as I did. I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to read this by Early Reviewers at LibraryThing.

Ari Goldman has written some other books, but this is the first one of his I have read, so I have nothing previously read to base this on. He writes in a style that is easy to read, but there is a depth to his writing that makes it worthwhile reading, with lots given to think about and reflect upon.

The book is primarily about Goldman’s decision to take up playing the cello again after a number of years of neglect. As he approaches his 60th birthday he decides that as part of his celebration he wants to be able to give a performance on the cello. There is some regret that he abandoned his cello playing for so long, but he shows some determination in getting back to it again.

I would have probably found the story of his re-acquaintance with the cello enjoyable enough, but he enriched the story by sharing his life journey as well. He tells the story about his life growing up as a Jew and how music had always been part of his life, going from how this initially involved regular singing in the synagogue to having to learn to play an instrument when his voice broke and he no longer sung as angelically as he had previously.

Goldman shares a lot of what and who inspired him over the years, especially one cello teacher who taught him a lot of what he knew, not just about cello playing, but also life in general. He also shares some of the struggles of balancing his career and family with his love of music. Of the three, it was music that mainly took the back seat as his career and family came to the forefront. He also shares the stories of some of the people who have come into his life as he has undertaken his journey of musical rediscovery.

At times the book was moving. Sometimes it was funny. Often it was both. I could identify with some of what he wrote, having been around music of some sort for most of my life. I grew up in a church where learning music was encouraged from an early age. I had my first musical instrument placed in my hands before my seventh birthday. Over the years playing music has moved in and out of my life. One of my regrets has not always having taken it as seriously as I could have, plus my aversion to regular practice probably didn’t help. Although my journey hasn’t been the same as Goldman’s, I found myself identifying with some of the things he shred, perhaps especially some of the regrets.

Although I enjoyed this book partly because of my enjoyment of music, I think that those without a musical background would also enjoy it. It’s inspirational and moving in the way it touches on life in general, in relationships, in the part religion plays in one’s life, and in the way we are shaped by those who teach us, among many other things. Above all else, Goldman inspires the reader to see that one is never too old to deal with some of the regrets of the past, not necessarily returning there, but picking up something long neglected and continuing with it once more. Too many people live with regrets instead of actually realising that sometimes they can be dealt with and overcome.

I’d heartily recommend this book as one worth reading, especially if you enjoy musical biographies, but it is also worth picking up if you are looking for something inspirational to read.

(Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from LibraryThing, but this in no way influenced my opinion or review)

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