Since June, the Dolphin Bookshop has been home to a weekly music series, Café Music. Every Friday from 7-9 p.m., free performances are presented for the local community in a relaxed environment. During the last seven months, the series has presented 30 performances in diverse styles, including jazz, classical, folk, rock, pop and musical theater.
However, Jan. 11 saw a first for the series: aits inaugural Young Musicians Showcase. The performers were all Port Washington students from elementary or middle school, ranging in age from 10-13.
At Friday's performance, series founder and coordinator Solomon Hoffman discussed the vision for the series. Not only does the series present music to the local community, it also gives area musicians opportunities to gain performance experience by playing at a local venue. Having grown up in Port Washington, Hoffman emphasized the value that this sort of performance could have, especially for student musicians.
“Playing at the Dolphin Bookshop was a really fun experience," said Zach Gitlin, a student at Salem Elementary School. "I would love to do it again and recommend it to any musician.”
His mother Melissa agreed.
“Having been able to see young, local musicians perform in an intimate venue like The Dolphin Bookshop was truly wonderful," she said. "Nights like these remind me of how special Port Washington is.”
Sixth grade violinist Lucas Romanski started off the evening with two short sonatas. For the first piece, he was accompanied on guitar by his former music teacher at Salem, John Akios. Romanski already displays a blend of technique and expression for such a young performer.
The second group was a clarinet sextet of 5th graders from Salem Elementary School. The group is taught by Salem music teacher Allison Friedman. Friedman also coordinated another group of advanced Salem students consisting of Zach Gitlin and Robbie Meade. Some of the students were also participating in the Nassau All-County Festival this past week, making for a music-filled weekend.
The other two performers both attend Weber Middle School. Tessa Weiner is an aspiring singer and guitarist and has a particular interest in country music. She charmed the audience with her confidence and humor. Christian Hill closed the evening, performing pieces by Schubert and Copland on the piano. Christian is already a busy young man, preparing for a solo piano recital at the Port Washington Public Library and performing in the leading role of Weber’s upcoming production of "Bye, Bye, Birdie"
Throughout the night the room was filled with excitement from both students and parents, as this was the first time many of the students were performing outside a school setting.
After the younger performers were finished, the remainder of the evening featured four musicians who have all grown up in Port Washington and are products of the same music programs that await young performers. They included violist Emily Waldman, who is studying music education at Temple, pianist Natasha Talukdar, a senior at Schreiber hoping to pursue music and biology, cellist Dahlia Hassan and pianist/composer Hoffman.
Friedman seemed proud of her students for their confidence and focus.
"It is wonderful that young musicians can have a chance to perform outside of the classroom and school setting," she said. "It really helps them to grow musically and as performers."
"It also helps them realize how exciting playing music can be," she added. "It was also wonderful for the younger musicians have the opportunity to watch the older, more experienced performers. It gives them something to aspire to. It was a wonderful night of music for all ages!"
With the success of the evening, the series is planning another Young Musicians Showcase in the spring, and will hope to include even more aspiring musicians in the community.