By Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer
Photo Credit: Sandra Shapiro
Cleveland Orchestra trombonists
Shachar Israel, left,
La Rosa provide 13-year-old
Rachel Waterbury with an earful
intermission of a recent
Severance Hall concert.
Nothing, apparently, stands in Rachel Waterbury's way when she puts
her mind to something -- neither braces nor illness nor other challenges that
most teenagers face.
Rachel, a 13-year-old trombone-playing seventh-grader at Kenston
Middle School in Chagrin Falls, is the brains behind "Bones for
Bones," a charity concert for a girls orphanage in Israel. She presented her performance, with a host of local music luminaries, this past sunday in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
The program's sassy title refers to the torrent of trombones that
will resound during the concert and to instruments Rachel hopes to collect for
Lev La Lev (Hebrew for "Heart to Heart"), the orphanage in Netanya,
The Bainbridge Township teen has studied trombone for nearly two
years with Massimo La Rosa, principal trombone of the Cleveland Orchestra, who
says Rachel is "a little girl with a big project." La Rosa is taking
part in last Sunday's concert, as did the rest of the orchestra's trombone section --
Shachar Israel, Richard Stout and Thomas Klaber.
These musicians shared the stage in works by Mahler, Purcell,
Rossini, Beethoven and friends with La Rosa's students from Cleveland Institute
of Music, trombonists Paul Ferguson, Jason Smith and Ed Zadrozny, violinist
Mari Sato and institute faculty pianist Sandra Shapiro -- Rachel's mother.
Shapiro's enterprising daughter hatched the idea to buy trombones
and raise money for orphaned and disadvantaged girls in Israel as a service
project for her bat mitzvah, which Rachel celebrated last month. She had plenty
of time to begin shaping the event last fall, when she was home recuperating
"I knew I wanted to do something that I was good at,"
says Rachel, smiling through braces that have adorned her teeth since last
summer. "I decided to do a concert. I came up with a name and asked
Massimo to help."
La Rosa was delighted when Rachel asked him to assist with the project.
"She's a lovely, lovely girl," says La Rosa, who played
in the orchestra at Venice's famed opera house, Teatro La Fenice, before coming
to Cleveland in 2007. "She has a lot of patience for music. In Italy, I
never had a girl student. It's not common for a girl to have a brass
instrument. Rachel's good. She makes so much improvement."
Rachel and La Rosa have had ample input on the project from
assistant principal trombone Israel, the newest member of the orchestra's
"bone" section, and La Rosa's friend Daniele Morandini, principal
trombone of the Israel Philharmonic.
Technology has been key to Rachel's managerial skills. She used
Google to find the orphanage in Israel. She's in frequent touch by e-mail with
Morandini, who plans to donate trombones to Lev La Lev. In addition, he'll take
his trombone colleagues in the Israel Philharmonic to Netanya, a resort city on
the Mediterranean, to perform for the girls.
Shapiro says she's been blown away by the generosity of the
seasoned trombonists who work with her daughter. Rachel takes weekly lessons
with Anthony Hopkins, a La Rosa master's student at the institute, and every
two months with La Rosa himself.
"Trombonists are very unpossessive, unlike piano
teachers," Shapiro says. "It seems like they don't mind if students
play for each of them. They've been so OK with going back and forth. Shachar
offered to hear [Rachel] when she needs another pair of ears."
Rachel, it turns out, doesn't have ears only for trombone, which
she plays in the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony. She's also a violist who
studies with Laura Shuster.
Photo Credit: Sandra Shapiro
Bainbridge Township trombonist
Rachel Waterbury, center,
by the trombone section of the
Cleveland Orchestra - from left,
Massimo La Rosa, Richard Stout,
Thomas Klaber, Shacher Israel.
"I usually practice trombone an hour or so after school,"
Rachel says. "Viola I do after dinner."
Music is just one of her accomplishments. Rachel's a soccer goalie
and award winner of the writing program Power of the Pen.
Still, trombone remains her first love.
"I love the sound," says Rachel, who'd like to study at
the Juilliard School in New York. "It's just really a fun instrument to
play. In band arrangements, it's pretty boring and it has limited repertoire.
But it's really beautiful."
And challenging, especially for a growing teenager.
"I can do all the positions," Rachel says of the
placement of the trombone slide for pitches. "Sometimes when it's a really
fast passage, I have to work to get from all the way out to all the way
Rachel and her mom plan on personally delivering the trombones and
money raised from Sunday's concert to the girls at Lev La Lev. It will be
Rachel's first trip to the country from which Shapiro's family hails.
"Ultimately, the most important thing is to get these girls
what they need long-term," says an extremely proud mom.