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young violinist and composer William Harvey


As I sit at my desk typing, a cool spring breeze sails in through the windows of my apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Halfway across the world, in Tunis, a young man sets aside his Tunisian Ud as he unwinds on a beach and watches gentle waves caress a sandy shoreline. Young ladies across Moldova are preparing for another summer at Camp Ghiocel, where just last year they had been sweetly serenaded by a mysterious stranger. In the Philippines, melody fills the air as children play hide and seek under the protective canopy of a lush mango orchard. At an orphanage in Zimbabwe, little ones eagerly await the arrivals of their newest admirers, fans and friends.

And right this second, the very bond that ties all these young people together, is likely to be found twenty blocks south from my apartment in a five-by-five little room on the fourth floor of The Juilliard School. His name is William Harvey, and his tale is truly a remarkable one.

Harvey is no stranger to the international arena. He is a fiery, passionate violinist, who also enjoys a burgeoning career as a composer. His forty-three works have received a total of ninety-five performances, and, as a published writer, his essays have appeared in numerous local and national publications. Above all else, Harvey has recently garnered attention through his work with the non-profit organization, Music for the People, of which he is both the founder and the Executive Director.

Harvey met me in front of Lincoln Center last week for a lunch interview, and I barely recognized him from the photos posted on his website. Clad in khaki pants, a plaid shirt, and a windbreaker, Harvey seemed the epitome of a precocious high schooler. As we strolled through Central Park and he began relaying tales of his work with Music for the People, there surfaced a worldly knowledge and superior intellect that quickly betrayed his youthful façade.

Playing for the girls at Camp Ghiocel in Moldova
Playing for the girls at Camp Ghiocel in Moldova

'Music for the People's main objective is something that works in a variety of formats and settings. What we're trying to do here is cultural diplomacy, a cultural exchange, of sorts. We are a private initiative, which uses the neutral and universal platform that is music to enable us to share a different side of ourselves with people in other parts of the world. In return, we might learn just as much -- if not more -- from them.'

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Copyright © 13 April 2006 Amanda von Goetz, New York City, USA


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