ESTHER: A STORYBOOK PRODIGY

October 21, 2006 — Ten years past.

That day helped change lives for many, in a very good way:

Esther Muradov was a delicate, 13 year-old young lady when we met her ten years ago today at our private home. With her mother on piano, she lifted her violin and played the first long note of a Vieuxtemps Concerto. Hair rose on my arms.  Suzanne and I, and friends, sat stunned as this child mastered the music as though in a concert hall.  When she finished, I lifted my jaw off the floor as a zillions questions flowed through my brain.

“How much do you practice?”

“About four hours a day.”

“Who’s your favorite violinist?” I asked

“Jascha Heifetz,” she responded.  

“But he died long before you were born.”

“I know,” she replied. “But he was the greatest of the 20th century.”

She was right.

“What are your ambitions, Esther?”

“Well, I’d like to go to Europe and compete internationally against other violinists. Maybe, someday I can play in Carnegie Hall.”

Her Russian-born mother, Pervin Muradov, answered for her, “Too expensive.  Besides that, her violin no good. Other kids will have much better instruments.”

“Perhaps we can do something,” I said.  

The next day, my wife and I began planning a special recital as a fund raiser for Esther, hopefully to give her a chance to compete in Europe. Three months later, we filled the small double-wide mobile building at the Unitarian Fellowship with 100-plus people willing to pay $50 a seat to hear and see this phenom. I had also loaned her my 225 year-old Italian-made violin to use for practice and recital.

She performed several impressive pieces, some quite difficult. The audience was amazed, with standing ovations. They were also enamored by her personality, so sincere, so articulate, so dedicated to music. The money came in, and Esther was on her way to Ibla, Italy, for international competition.

Here’s a  five-minute video of her playing one of the numbers, “Caprice Basque” by Sarasate, during that fund raiser. Watch and listen, she is quite amazing.

Among her awards for doing so well in Ibla, was an opportunity to play a recital in Carnegie Hall, which Suzanne and I proudly attended. There was my violin up there on the stage in Carnegie Hall playing a Lalo Concerto.  My mother would have been so proud.

There’s more to the story.  The recital in that Unitarian double-wide led to a four-year high-school scholarship the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. From there, she became a wonder student in Columbia University in New York from which she graduated with honors in 2016.

Goodness cascaded as the story doesn’t stop there. Esther would be indirectly responsible for helping many other young prodigies like herself attain their goals and ambitions in art and music. A group of local friends got together wondering how many other “Esthers” are out there, prodigies lacking the means to attain their musical dreams. Thus, we formed a non-profit group called, “The Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard.” Operating solely on tax-deductible contributions, and some fund-raising performances, the group provides incentives, opportunities and in some cases, partial scholarships for gifted prodigies who need instruments, instruction or schooling.

In the years hence, the foundation has promoted scores of shows and competitions, awarding numerous scholarship grants allowing brilliant youngsters to pursue their dreams. One young concert pianist who received such assistance, spontaneously took the microphone on stage and emotionally announced to the crowd, “I now have a full ride, 4-year scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music,” said 17 year-old Sonya Belaya. “If it were not for the Creative Arts Foundation, it would never have been possible.” 

There are many such examples.

Since 2007, over 300 dedicated youngsters have directly benefited from the services of this non-profit group, some in a very big way. The annual awards competition “Brevard’s Got Music Talent” has featured nearly 100 young musicians and vocalists, eight of whom have won first prize of $1,000. Including special grants and awards, the foundation has doled out nearly $66,000 to youngsters in need thanks to a little girl who didn’t know she was destined to become the poster child for an organization that helped so many.

Thanks to her loving parents who are very talented as well, 23 year-old Esther Muradov of today has her sights set on becoming a medical doctor. But she will always have music that will remain a major part of her life along with the wonderful memories of high achievement. She can also bask in the satisfaction that she paved the way for many young prodigies to have been given golden opportunities that might not existed if not for her.

Here’s another Youtube of Esther performing part of the Brahms Concerto during an audition…

It can’t get better than that.

(The Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, Inc., is a non-profit group of volunteers whose primary focus is to provide support and opportunities to young prodigies who have demonstrated talent and determination to excel. All contributions are tax deductible. For more information, visit www.CAFOB.org…or contact yours truly.