Documentary: A Dream Fulfilled
Fifty years of classical music through the eyes of someone who lived it.
Since Herbert Light first took his seat and raised his fiddle at the Academy of Music in 1960, America has seen the assassination of a president, several wars, the proliferation of the home computer and the internet, the rise/fall/rise/etc. of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, and the invention of the iPhone and Facebook.
Through these monumental shifts in our culture and our world, Herbie, as he is known to his colleagues, has played the violin. He’s played for five Music Directors and hundreds of guest conductors, in venues from New York to L.A. to Beijing to Moscow to Tel Aviv to London.
Most people have several jobs in their lifetimes, and live in different cities, pursue different dreams. Herb was by his own admission lucky enough to achieve his dream in 1960 at the age of 24 – and today, at the age of 79, is still living it.
A Dream Fulfilled will tell Herb’s story, and through it explore how classical music has changed in America in the last half-century.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE…
What’s the point?
I get a lot of politely skeptical reactions when I talk about this documentary. Perfectly justified, of course – I mean, really…who’s going to want to see a documentary about an old violinist?
But this project is more than that. Yes, it’s extremely important to me personally: I want to pay tribute to my father, and just telling him how wonderful he is won’t cut it for me. This is the best way I can think of to express my admiration of his career and my gratitude for the life I have.
So it’s through his eyes that we’ll take the journey, but the point – and the larger aim of this piece – is to celebrate music and the arts and a life lived therein.
There’s so much pessimism and anger in the world these days (in case you hadn’t noticed) and music has always been the thing that brings me hope and joy when around me is nothing but petty hatred and anger. And unlike all the people in the news today, who are focused on belittling and winning and getting what they want, my father has devoted his life to creating something beautiful and pure. He’s been a part of an institution that has brought real joy to hundreds of thousands of people – and would be bringing that joy to many more if we could somehow cut through the noise.
So even though it sounds lofty, it’s really quite simple: I want to celebrate music as an essential part of our lives, as the one thing that has the power to create a shared experience across borders and ideology. Through the stories my father has about the Philadelphia Orchestra, through visits backstage with him and his colleagues, I want to reveal what goes on behind the scenes at an institution like this – one whose sole purpose is to spread that joy and create that shared experience. And who better to guide us on this trip than a man who’s spent 55 years in the middle of it?
AN UPDATE – Friday, Oct 14th, 2016
This was just sent to all backers of this project:
Please accept my sincere apologies for the radio silence over the last several months. As many of you know, a lot has happened over that time.
For those that don’t, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma this past July/August, and I had to start chemotherapy (which I’ve been doing for two months, and will be continuing for the next 4 months, every two weeks). The prognosis is very good, so there’s no reason to think I won’t be fine eventually, but the chemo has definitely diminished my ability to work.
It also has, as I’m sure you can imagine, thrown a bit of a wrench into the plans for this documentary. I had several interviews lined up this summer and made plans to do some filming in Saratoga while the Orchestra was there, but obviously those had to be scrapped, and I haven’t yet rescheduled because I just wasn’t sure what to expect with treatment.
And, of course, many of you have seen that the Orchestra went on a brief strike, following which my father declared his retirement effective this season – so these are important new elements of the story that I’d like to address and figure out how to incorporate.
The good news is, I do have some interviews under my belt, including a trip to Texas for a wonderful conversation with Anshel Brusilow, who was concertmaster when my Dad entered in 1960. I don’t want this work to go to waste, and I want to reassure everyone that I’m still committed to working on this and finishing it.
Because of my illness, however, I really don’t know what the time horizon will be. I will most definitely be unable to finish anything by the original deadline next Spring, and I’m hesitant to set another deadline because each week of chemotherapy has been different so far, and I’ve been forced to keep my schedule loose. I am hopeful that I can still get more interviews done over the winter while in treatment and then focus on post production during the first half of next year, but I really cannot promise that at this time.
So despite my commitment to finishing it no matter how long it takes, I realize that this is a Kickstarter project that cannot be completed as promised, and I understand that this might be disappointing for you who have so generously donated. With that in mind, I’d like to offer to return donations in full to anyone who requests it. I do not want anyone to think I’m sitting on your donation and taking your generosity for granted, and I would completely understand if anyone wants theirs returned.
But no matter what you decide, I’d like to say another sincere thank you to everyone, and pledge to continue trying to create something that celebrates music and a life lived playing it. Classical music has gotten me through many a dark mood over the last few months, and I’m more motivated than ever to give thanks by celebrating my father’s life and career on film.
Please reach out to me directly to let me know if you’d like a refund, and I will process it as soon as I can.
And for those of you who are interested, I’ve been posting updates on my treatment on my website: http://www.jonathanlight.com/category/not-a-cancer-blog/
Thank you all again,