The late Noel Pointer believed that “learning to play a string instrument is a transformative experience that advances children’s lives,” and to keep his dream alive, the Noel Pointer Foundation, under the leadership of his wife, CEO and Director Chinita J. Pointer, presented their first ever Giving Tuesday concert at the Restoration Plaza on Dec. 1.
Noel Pointer was a world renowned, Grammy-nominated jazz violinist, composer and literacy advocate who at the age of 13 made his solo debut performing Vivaldi with the Symphony of the New World Orchestra. He also played with the Chicago Chambers Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra and by age 19 was working with orchestras at the Apollo, the Westchester Music Fair, Radio City Music Hall and many more.
The NPF serves children in New York City public schools, from age 3 and a half years to high school, and currently uses the five boroughs as the catchment area but expects to expand to New Jersey and Connecticut. Chinita Pointer says, “The vision is to provide string for city schools, keeping Noel’s legacy alive, especially in Bedford-Stuyvesant, because there is very little music education in city schools.”
She also stated that the program started with 18 students, 10 on violin and eight on chello, and after five months of instructions, children were ready for auditions. “Some have gone on to Julliard and Manhattan Music School, all because of the teachers, and I owe it all to them,” she said.
The filled-to-capacity community room was graced with the presence of local school principals, parents, grandparents and friends, all glowing with the pride evoked by their loved ones’ achievements.
The young performers, dressed in their formal black attire, graciously strolled into the room with string instruments in hand and heads held high. It was a parade of youthful Black pride, rivaled only by a peacock’s strut. They were magnificent.
The Prelude Orchestra featured classics from Ashman and Menken, the love theme from “St. Elmo’s Fire,” Foster and Tchaikovsky. After mesmerizing the audience with perfectly poised and effortless renditions, the soloist took charge with renditions from C.M. von Weber, A. Dvorak and even a Mozart Minuet from “Divertimoento in D Major.” There was also an orchestra and Phantazia String Players session.
NPF celebrated its 20th anniversary in June 2015 and runs a String-in-Residence program in Bed-Stuy. They have been featured on WPIX 11, Channel 5, the Christian Cultural Center holiday specials and much more. The discipline and self-esteem instilled in the program has manifested in students going to Yale and HBCUs such as Howard University. NPF boasts of its small class sizes, world-class mentors such as Yo Yo Ma, jazz violinist Regina Carter and Pharrell Williams. The core study program includes in-school string, Saturday String and Summer String.
This string orchestra concert gave a glimpse of the untapped talent within the African-centered communities, wastefully lying dormant and waiting to erupt with unforgivable, unstoppable forces of genius, if just given the resources.