If you want to encourage your children in their piano studies, hosting a concert of world-class youth musicians in your backyard isn’t a bad idea.
It helps if you have a backyard like that of Gary Fuhrman, chief executive officer and chairman of GF Capital Management & Advisors LLC, and his wife, Dorian. It overlooks Hook Pond in East Hampton, New York, and features a tennis court, jungle gym and plenty of lawn.
The Fuhrmans hosted the annual benefit for the Perlman Music Program, founded by violinist Itzhak Perlman and his wife, Toby, to train highly talented musicians. The program operates a Summer Music School for 11-to-18-year-olds in a camp setting on Shelter Island.
“We just love the people involved,” said Dorian Fuhrman, who is 8 1/2 months pregnant.
The concert Saturday night took place under a tent pitched between the tennis court and the jungle gym. The Fuhrmans’ two boys sat in the front row, wearing blue-striped dress shirts and white pants. Almost 200 guests joined them, including: William Hoh of Soros Fund Management LLC and his wife, Wandy Hoh, co-founder of the children’s electronic books company MeeGenius!; Andrew Nussbaum, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and his wife, Darcy Miller, weddings editorial director at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; broadcast journalist Lynn Sherr; art dealer Barbara Gladstone; architect Annabelle Selldorf; author and tireless advocate for imprisoned writers Barbara Goldsmith; filmmaker Peter Rosen, who has a film on violinist Jascha Heifetz coming out Oct. 22 in New York; and painter Cornelia Foss.
The Perlman Music Program string orchestra played Bartok and Brahms, with the students changing chairs during breaks because they had no set places.
“There’s no hierarchy here, no room for showing off,” said Itzhak Perlman during the cocktail hour. “What we appreciate is that everybody does their best.”
Developing the musicians’ social skills is an important part of the program. In addition to studying viola, violin, piano, bass and cello, the students play capture the flag and charades and make bonfires. There is no color war.
“They play this heartbreaking music and then they say, ’I’m gonna stick a marshmallow in your ear,’” said Sidney Stark, the wife of the program’s president, Morgan Stark. “The kids are a huge family. They don’t come that way, and within weeks they become that way.”
Morgan Stark, who by day is chairman of the asset-management business and head of macro investments at Cowen & Co., is leading a $3 million capital campaign to upgrade the Shelter Island campus. So far $1.9 million has been raised.
On Aug. 24, construction begins on a new building with sound-proofed practice rooms, air conditioning and heat. The idea is to use the campus for recitals and retreats beyond the summer months. The benefit raised $100,000.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)