Music For Life: The Story of New Horizons

Music for Life: The Story of New Horizons

Marian found respite during a time of trouble. George found his life partner. Marjorie found something she’d thought she’d lost forever. They all found more than they bargained for when they joined the New Horizons Music Program, a program for senior musicians whose skills range from novice to seasoned. Marian, George, Marjorie and others share how they found a new connection to music and so much more in the hour-long documentary, Music for Life: The Story of New Horizons.

The New Horizons program defies the notion that “retirement means sitting on your sofa all day, watching television, and waiting to die.” That’s how Dr. Roy Ernst, professor emeritus at Eastman School of Music and New Horizons founder, puts it. His philosophy, as he explains in the documentary, is that anyone can learn to play music at a personal level that will bring a sense of accomplishment. That feeling of accomplishment and being part of something is a basic human need. Like band member David, who took up the trombone at age 82, says “If you don’t have something to occupy your time and your mind, you degenerate health wise."

“When you play a great piece of music you’re in the presence of something far greater than yourself,” explains RPO Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. And that’s exactly what New Horizons members experience. Whether they have rekindled, or found for the first time, their passion for music and performing – they are part of something bigger than themselves. Along the way, they have discovered new abilities, formed life-long friendships, and proved to us all that life is a journey, not a race.

What started as a 30-member band in Rochester, New York more than 20 years ago has grown to a program that includes 10,000 musicians in 215 New Horizons bands across the United States, as well as in Canada, Ireland, Australia, and several other countries. 

Music for Life: The Story of New Horizons aired on WXXI-TV (Rochester, NY) on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 8 p.m. a on WXXI-TV

Check out bonus material and extended interviews by clicking here.


This documentary was funded in part by Eastman School of Music, New Horizons, and the Waldron Rise Foundation.

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