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Mohammed and Mozart

(Sharing a story I got from a musician friend of mine who lives in NYC)

It was Monday night, and we had just arrived at Penn Station on the Acela from a gig in Boston. The venue was sold out, the crowd was enthusiastic, and it could not have gone better.

But even so, a 24-hour NYC/Boston turnaround is exhausting. So we were even happier that Mohammed, our Uber driver, arrived early at Penn Station, and went out of his way to be accommodating and friendly. He was very excited to show us the pictures of his children and we were delighted to share in his joy.

We remarked that babies and children benefited from music, and this idea excited Mohammed greatly; he asked for musical suggestions. The first composer who came to mind was Mozart, as numerous studies have indicated that something in his music fires kids' synapses, or something good like that.

Mohammed, who we guess was with either Pakistani or Bangladeshi, had never heard of Mozart. As we pulled onto the FDR on the way to Harlem, he handed us his phone, pleading with us to find Mozart on YouTube with an energy that bordered on desperation -- and soon, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was blasting on his speakers.

At first, there was silence as the familiar (to us) music filled the car. After a couple of minutes Mohammed spoke, his voice now softer and less agitated. "I have been quiet not because I don't like it. I am silent because this music has changed me. You have changed my life this night. I feel peace, I feel relief. I can never thank you enough for this beautiful gift."

Mohammed's joy was unbounded. He had never heard anything like it in his life and was profoundly moved and exultant at the discovery of something so beautiful and new, and he couldn't wait to share it with his wife and children. "I hug you forever for this gift," he said as we got out of his Tesla.

And us? We both had tears running down our cheeks. We got a chance to share something precious to us that represents the best of what humans can do, and it turned out to be just what Mohammed needed. And not only Mohammed, but his wife and children, will now have something that no one can ever take away. And we two, New York cabaret performers who settled here long ago from remote American small towns, were able to give the gift of Mozart to another New Yorker who came here from far away to pursue his own dream. All of us went home grateful and changed that night.

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