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Never too old: Late Starters Orchestra

Ari Goldman, rightOLDER PEOPLE’S minds are too often cluttered by informational overload or professional demands to invest energy in reviving old passions. But some longings, like playing the cello again, refuse to cease and desist.

Ari Goldman’s The Late Starters Orchestra is a serious, whimsical and realistic chronicle of the Columbia University professor and former New York Times’ journalist’s return to the cello at age 60.

A speaker at Sunday’s JAAMM Fest, Goldman is already back in New York preparing a class at Columbia, where he heads the Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual life.

“I had a nice experience at the festival yesterday,” he says. “A lot people were really skeptical: ‘Can you really pick up an instrument at this stage in your life?’ I said absolutely  and gave them a lot of examples.

“I joined the Late Starters Orchestra in New York, but it’s part of a national network of orchestras for people over 50 called New Horizons.”

Although Denver doesn’t have an orchestra for late bloomers, there is one in Colorado Springs.

“We’re living longer,” Goldman says of opportunities to actualize once impossible dreams. “We have more free time, especially now that the kids are out of the house. We should pursue our dreams.

“For some, that’s playing an instrument. For other people it might be learning a new language, planting a garden, cooking — even riding a motorcycle. This book is about capturing and recapturing your passion.”

Goldman and his wife Shira, who have been married for 31 years, are the parents of three adult children.

“I was determined that one of my children would love the cello,” he says, “and Judah, our youngest, took to it.”

Judah, a main character in the book, was only six when he began studying the cello. He’s now a sophomore in college and plays seven instruments, including the cello.

“He’s a music major and is a very, very good musician,” Goldman says proudly.

The author, now 65, is quick to admit that he’s “not very good at the cello because I started late. If you start early, you can do all sorts of miraculous things, but if you come to it late, there’s only so much you can do.”

The rest of this article is available in the November 14, 2014 IJN print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at or subscribe to our online e-Edition.

Andrea Jacobs

IJN Senior Writer |

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