Honoring Annabelle

Alert “06880 reader” — and talented photographer — Jonathan Prager writes:

The setting sun draws sacred and spiritual attention. It is a lure and magnet for peace and soul celebration.

I share these photos because Tuesday was the first anniversary of the death of my mother, Annabelle Forsch Prager. She was 17 days shy of her 99th birthday.

Mom was an artistic force. As a 17-year-old girl she traveled to Provincetown to study with renowned painter Hans Hoffman, and trained at the Yale School of Art. As a freelance professional artist in New York City she illustrated books, created games and calendars, designed a version of the Domino Sugar Girl, and eventually became an award-winning author of 4 children’s books.

Her crowning achievement was creating and leading the InterSchool Orchestras of New York for the better part of 5 decades. Starting from an ensemble of 25 bewildered students in the gymnasium of a Manhattan church in 1972 (of which I was one), she shaped the ISO into a leading children’s organization that offered musical opportunity to generations of students.

At a time when budget cuts decimated music in schools throughout the nation, Annabelle served as a champion of children, music, and music for children. Her passion and determination turned the ISO into an 8-ensemble network for children ages 5 to 18.

The ISO gave gala concerts at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls, and at public schools and neighborhood settlement houses. Included were the smallest kids in beginning ensembles, and virtuosic players of the ISO Symphony. All participated without any obligation to pay. Mom felt blessed to have world famous guest artists like Kurt Masur and Itzhak Perlman donate their time to guide and perform with the ISO children.

At the Westport Library each year, Annabelle did research for the ISO gala programs and musical booklets she authored. She made time to read her books to Westport’s children there, as well.

Mom was an advocate for fairness, for connection, and a veritable dynamo of nuanced, discerning, original and imaginative thinking.

She cared that the people she influenced and affected carry her legacy forward by making their own contributions.

On this anniversary, I invite each of you who knew her — as well as those who have just learned about her — to take a moment to think about and honor Annabelle in your own unique and personal way.

(Photographs/Jonathan Prager)

6 responses to “Honoring Annabelle

  1. So sorry Jonathan, she was an amazing person.

  2. Jonathan
    A lovely and lovingly expressed tribute to a remarkably caring woman. My condolences to you for the loss of such an impactful mother.
    Dr J

  3. Judy Auber Jahnel

    Jonathan that was a beautiful anniversary tribute and celebration of your mom! What a talented and artistic force. She left a sweet legacy in you! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Mary Lynn Halland

    May your memories of her be a blessing.

  5. Mariaolga Ellison

    Dan. Thanks for sharing the life of your Mom. A very accomplished Lady. Now I know where your artistic capabilities come from.

    • Thanks, but it’s not my mother. Check out the first line — it’s a tribute from Jonathan Prager. I agree — she was quite a woman!