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NINETY YEAR OLD VIOLINIST TO RETURN TO HIS FORMER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 77 YEARS

Repercussion Theatre

Ninety year old violinist to return to his former
Elementary school for the first time in 77 years

MONTREAL, FEBRUARY  3, 2010 Accomplished 90 year old violinist Joseph Greenstone will return to his former elementary school, Bancroft (4563 St. Urbain Street)  in the Plateau, on Fri. Feb. 5 (11 a.m.) to talk to students and play some music.
Mr. Greenstone, who turns 91 in May, was a 10-year-old pupil at Bancroft when he spotted a notice on the bulletin board advertising music instruction. His parents’ positive response, his teacher’s support and his talent ultimately paved the way for his successful career as a professional violinist. The Greenstones were people of modest means and had five children to support. Nevertheless, they consented to the 50-cent fee and purchased a violin for $5 at a pawn shop on Craig Street (now St. Antoine). It didn’t take long for teacher Harry Norris, a former British opera conductor, to recognize Mr. Greenstone’s inherent talent. “The teacher informed my father, who also loved violin and always accompanied me to class, that he would give me private lessons at no extra cost,”  Mr. Greenstone says, “but eventually we couldn’t afford to pay anything, so Mr. Norris taught me without pay.”

After returning from service in World War II, Mr. Greenstone performed for a limited time in what he considers a precursor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. “In those days, they didn’t pay musicians enough to make it a full-time job, so during the day I worked for my brother (William) in the textile business.”

The Montreal native’s latest performance took place in the fall when he led the dinner and dance music for the 27th consecutive year at the prestigious Austrian Ball. Although the violin is his favourite instrument, he also enjoys playing the viola. As for relaxation, he adores listening to Mozart and Chopin on the piano. A versatile musician, Mr. Greenstone excels in every genre outside of the very latest hard rock, heavy metal and hip-hop. Moreover, he plays hundreds of classical, popular, operatic, ethnic, folk, show tunes and other pieces by heart. He has performed with the most renowned opera and ballet companies, symphonies, ice shows, stage productions, bands and accompanied world-famous stars at major events in posh hotels, dinner clubs, the United Nations, National Arts Centre, Museum of Fine Arts, celebrity weddings and city halls. During his career, Mr. Greenstone served as concertmaster for four Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Societies and after 45 consecutive years, he was inaugurated as a life Member of the Montreal West Operatic Society.

 

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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213
E-mail: mcohen@emsb.qc.ca