Local violin virtuoso spreads joy of music

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If a famous music teacher offered to turn a young student into a multimillion-dollar-earning star, many parents would leap at the opportunity.

But when Riverdale violinist Sheila Reinhold was 7, her mother and father declined to let an eager and well-known instructor mold their daughter into a bow-bearing ATM.

Ms. Reinhold, 60, went on to a career that has put her in the top tier of performers nationwide. Still, she is grateful that her parents allowed her to have a normal childhood and decide to become a professional musician on her own.

“They wanted to support the whole child and not just one talent. It’s very challenging,” she said in a recent interview at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR), where she will soon begin the sixth season of her successful quartet concert series, “Intimate Voices.”

Ms. Reinhold said while her parents were not musicians themselves, their wish for her to enjoy her freedom partly came from their own experiences of oppression. Both were Jewish Belgians who survived the Holocaust.

“My mother was in Auschwitz,” Ms. Reinhold said. “That’s a little bit connected to me and my parents’ wisdom of understanding things and not having me be adopted to become world-famous.”

Ms. Reinhold’s first teacher, Vladimir Graffman, was one of the most famous pianists of his own day. Although her parents declined his offer to turn her into a star by age 10, her casually cultivated gifts enabled her to make her debut as a soloist when she was just 9.

After playing in front of an orchestra at the 92nd Street Y at that tender age, she spent part of her teens studying with the world-famous violinist and conductor Jascha Heifetz. Ms. Reinhold said when she was in high school, she decided to devote herself to the violin. Since then, she has put on performances from challenging solos at the Lincoln Center to back-up melodies for Tony Bennett and other stars, all while remaining a dedicated teacher for students of her own.

The latest feather in her cap came from the Bronx Council on the Arts, which earlier this year gave her a Bronx Recognizes Its Own (or BRIO) award for her part in a rollicking Haydn quartet.

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