Comments: Roberta Guaspari arrived in New York City on a hot summer day in 1980, with two little boys, a busted marriage, and a packing crate full of violins. She had no idea what she would do to earn a living or remake her life. She ended up in East Harlem and began teaching music in a public school during the city's rockiest era: living conditions and budget cuts threatened to put her and her violin kids out of business.
Over the years, Guaspari's passionate dedication to her students provided the impetus for what became the landmark East Harlem Violin Program. Against tremendous odds, more than one thousand public school kids (including her own) have raised their bows and their hopes in Guaspari's classes, discovering the power of music to enrich and unite a community.
In 1999, Roberta Guaspari's incredible story was adapted by Mirimax Films. The film featured Aidan Quinn, Gloria Estefan, and Angela Bassett, with Meryl Streep in the role of Ms. Guaspari.
Ms. Guaspari's violin program gained national renown when she and her students performed at Carnegie Hall with Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, and Mark O'Conner.
Roberta Guaspari was the keynote speaker at the National Gallery for America's Young Inventors Induction Ceremony in 2000. This picture (left) of Roberta is with inductees at the event.