Anniversary Memorial Tribute for my mother: Annabelle Forsch Prager.
The setting sun draws sacred and spiritual attention; and so, represents a lure and a magnet for peace and soul celebration.
I share photographs from this evening’s sunset because today (January 25th) is the first anniversary of the death of my mother. She died on this day a year ago, seventeen days shy of her 99th birthday.
Mom was an artistic force. Born in 1922, she traveled to Provincetown as a 17-year-old girl to study with renowned painter Hans Hoffman, culminating her training at the Yale School of Art. As a freelance professional artist in New York City, she illustrated books and created games and calendars, designed a version of the Domino Sugar Girl, and eventually became an award-winning author of four acclaimed children’s books.
Her crowning achievement was creating and leading the InterSchool Orchestras of New York for the better part of five decades. Starting from an ensemble of twenty-five bewildered students in the gymnasium of a Manhattan church in 1972 (of which I was one), she shaped the ISO into a leading children’s organization which created musical opportunity for generations of students.
At a time when budget cuts had decimated music in the schools throughout this nation, Annabelle served as a champion of children, of music, and of music for children. Her passion and determination turned the ISO into an eight ensemble organization, including children aged 5 to 18. The ISO gave gala concerts at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls — and at public schools and neighborhood settlement houses — which included the smallest kids in beginning ensembles to the virtuosic players of the ISO Symphony. All participated without any obligation to pay. Mom felt blessed to have world famous guest artists — Kurt Masur, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stoltzman—donate their time to guide and perform with the ISO children.
At the Westport Library each year, she did research for the ISO gala programs and the musical booklets she authored. And, she made time to be sure to read her books to Westport’s children there, as well.
Annabelle was an advocate for fairness, for connection, and a veritable dynamo of nuanced, discerning, original and imaginative thinking.
She cared that the people she affected and influenced carry her legacy forward by making their own contributions.
I send these pictures to commemorate her death, and to honor her life.
On this anniversary and, indeed, throughout the day any day as an example and source of inspiration, I invite each of you who knew her — as well as those being here introduced — to take a moment to think about and honor Annabelle in your own unique and personal way.
Jonathan : )
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