Author Ari Goldman

Ari L. Goldman is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he directs the Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual Life. He teaches a variety of courses, including the popular Covering Religion seminar that has taken students on study tours of Israel, Ireland, Italy, India and Russia.

Goldman  is the author of four books, including the best-selling The Search for God at Harvard. His newest book, The Late Starters Orchestra, was published by Algonquin in June 2014. Publisher’s Weekly selected it as one of the top 10 music books of the spring season. “With grace, humor, and elegance, Goldman generously invites readers into his tale,” Publishers Weekly wrote. “Through it all, Goldman uncovers the soul of a musician that makes him one with his cello and the music.”


The Washington Post called the new book “an anthem for the amateur,” and added: “If more people took up an instrument with Goldman’s level of commitment, our classical music culture would surely improve.”

From the Book Jacket

In a cluttered room in an abandoned coat factory in lower Manhattan, a group of musicians comes together each week to make music. Some are old, some are young, all have come late to music or come back to it after a long absence. This is the Late Starters Orchestra – the bona fide amateur string orchestra where Ari Goldman pursues his lifelong dream of playing the cello.
Goldman hadn’t seriously picked up his cello in twenty-five years, but the Late Starters (its motto, If you think you can play, you can) seemed just right for this music lover whose busy life had always gotten in the way of its pursuit.
In the Late Starters Orchestra, Goldman takes us along to LSO rehearsals and lets us sit in on his son’s Suzuki lessons, where we find out that children do indeed learn differently from adults. He explores history’s greatest cellists and also attempts to understand what motivates his fellow late starters, amateurs all, whose quest is for joy, not greatness. And when Goldman commits to playing for his upcoming birthday party we wonder with him whether he’ll be good enough to perform in public. To the rescue comes the ghost of Goldman’s first cello teacher, the wise and eccentric Mr. J, who continues to inspire and guide him – about music and more – through this well-tuned journey.

The Late Starters Orchestra was published by Algonquin Books in June 2014. You can order your copy now on Amazon, Indiebound, Powell’s Books and Barnes & Noble. 

Watch a trailer about the Late Starters Orchestra:

The Late Starters Orchestra – Book Trailer from Jen Dev on Vimeo.