by Stephen Sorokoff, April 29, 2019
Last night at the historic University Club some of New York’s most esteemed citizens gathered to honor two of the most remarkable men in the music world: Pianists, Educators, and Humanitarians Melvin Stecher & Norman Horowitz. The Gala celebrated the 60 years of the Stecher Horowitz Foundation and its Founders and Executive Directors, Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz.
William S. Hearst, Chairman of the Board welcomed the guests after the cocktail reception and introduced the Gala Chairs, David Rosenbloom, Even Steen, and Gus Rosendale. Following, was a concert by Joyce B. Cowin First Prize winner of the 2018 New York International Piano Competition, pianist Youlan Ji, with The Memling Ensemble.
Gus Rosendale, NBC News Anchor and member of The Board of Directors introduced a film tracing the careers of Stecher & Horowitz. There are many Galas/Tributes in New York City but none more fitting than last night for Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz.
From William S Hearst, Chairman of the Board, “No tribute would be complete without referencing the sheer humanity of Stecher and Horowitz or Melvin and Norman, as so many of us know them. Margaret Carpenter, our Vice-Chair and I have known Melvin and Norman for a combined ninety years plus and the charm and satisfaction we receive from just knowing them is one of the delights of life. Their dedication to the cause of cultivating young artists is infectious, and it’s hard not to jump on their glory-bound bandwagon that is perpetually headed in pursuit of excellence, no matter what the endeavor. Our hats go off to you, dear Melvin and Norman and we raise a cup of “Auld Lang Syne” as we salute you on this most memorable occasion.”
In the words of Robert Sherman, writer, teacher, and radio personality, “Sixty years ago “The Sound of Music” was a smash hit on Broadway, but out on Long Island, Melvin and Norman quietly unveiled their own unique and equally durable musical sounds. Six decades is a huge span of time for any cultural operation to sustain itself, let alone to continually expand its focus. Yet just as Rodgers and Hammerstein so memorably brought a fresh burst of creativity to stage and screen, Stecher and Horowitz have innovated new pathways with the goal of finding and nurturing some of the great pianists of tomorrow.”
Following many years as one of America’s preeminent two-piano teams, Melvin and Norman re-channeled their efforts into the New York International Piano Competition, not just seeking out remarkable young talents, but continuing to mentor them and provide performing opportunities to spark their unfolding careers. Along the way, public awareness of their remarkable achievements has been expanded through the production of three documentary films, and establishment of a multi-city network of ongoing young artist concerts.
Most recently, Steinway and Sons issued a world premiere CD devoted to pieces by major American composers, commissioned for the competition by the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation. What lies ahead? Can’t say at the moment, but as Tony Bennett proclaimed sixty years ago (in a song by another celebrated musical team, Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh), I think it’s a good bet that “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
Article & Photos by Stephen Sorokoff