- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2001

The Levine School of Musics record-breaking fund-raiser Monday turned into a gathering of some of Washingtons artistic greats. Which is, no doubt, as it should be for a 25-year-old institution that is considered one of the countrys leading community music schools at work on four different locations in the Washington area.
Called "The Curtain Is Rising" to herald next years quarter-century celebration the gala made $200,000 and encompassed a warm salute to Martin Feinstein, former director of the Washington Opera and former executive director of the Kennedy Center, who turned 80 on Thursday.
The ebullient birthday boy, who began his professional career in New York City as right-hand man to the late, great impresario Sol Hurok, also had been a member of Levines advisory board. He now is senior consultant to the Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, scheduled to open in September.
His connections span countries and continents.
Unusual enough, the program even included a full-page ad from the local stagehands union with whom the honoree once sparred in high-tension, but ultimately successful, labor negotiations in his leadership roles.
Hence, the presence of opera star Roberta Peters ("He took me to audition at the Met in 1949 and came to my debut there in 1950") and Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser, a member of the opera board for one year in the mid-1980s, as well as the brief talking presence of Placido Domingo, Washington Operas artistic director. The famed tenor-conductor flew in from New York and then out again with just time enough to present Mr. Feinstein with a crystal obelisk representing the schools Paul Hume Award, given annually for people contributing to the musical life of Washington.
"I would not be standing here if you had not placed the Washington Opera on the proverbial map," Mr. Domingo said in praise of Mr. Feinsteins "business acumen and artistic imagination someone who has not only enriched the cultural life of D.C. but the entire country. You were father and mother to everything."
He recalled a time when Mr. Feinstein had to ask audiences indulgence for the tenors successive performances in "Tosca" because of illness and did it with great humor. "You are 80 and full of great plans. Its an honor to be at your side," Mr. Domingo concluded, followed by a bear hug and a standing ovation from the 350 assembled guests.
At a reception earlier, Mr. Feinstein recalled the first time he heard Mr. Domingo sing many years ago, when the honoree was working with Mr. Hurok. " was at New York City Opera, and I immediately inquired if he was under management. Unfortunately, he was." The two later became close friends.
Mr. Feinstein is taking the No. 80 in great stride. "My sister called and said, 'How do you feel? I said it feels no different from 79."
As if to prove his indifference to age, he and his wife, Marcia, are starting an antiques business, taking their wares to their first show this fall. "Weve been collecting like mad," he said.
"British Georgian," Mrs. Feinstein said. "Which corresponds with the Federal period of late 18th century."
Never a dull moment. And certainly not at Mondays low-key gathering at which Channel 4 news anchor Doreen Gentzler was emcee. Rockville High School ninth-grader Julie Pena, a piano student at Levine, played a Paraguayan harp to serenade entering guests, followed by Tiny Tots Violins from the schools Southeast Site.
Entertainment later was provided by alumna Julietta Curenton on flute and four of the schools advanced students: violinist Brendan Conway; pianist Pallavi Mahidhara; and a vocal duet by Amanda Sieber and Marisa White.

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