The real estate industry’s very own Piano Man helped the charity, Education Through Music, raise over $500,000 during a gala fundraiser at Cipriani 42nd Street on Wednesday night.
Cassidy Turley executive vice chairman Richard Bernstein was lauded at the gala for his passionate advocacy on behalf of the charity, which partners with inner-city schools to provide over 14,000 New York students with music as a core subject, and to create school communities that value the arts.
A star-studded room of supporters included The Good Wife actress Christine Baranski, Glenn Close, Nicole Miller, Grace Hightower DeNiro, Muffi e Potter Aston and Somers Farkas.
Bernstein – who famously moved a piano into his corner office when he worked at Trammel Crow Company – performed a duet with Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell and accompanied over 100 ETM musicians and singers during the gala.
He told the packed hall – that included supporters from his colleagues at Cassidy Turley, W&M, The Durst Organization, SL Green, Coty, Random House, Benchmark, Vornado, Equity Office, Gensler, The Phillips Group, Empire Office and Ted Moudis Associates – that he was humbled by the honor.
Like any successful man, he credited his wife for helping him pen an effective speech for the occasion. “She told me ‘Don’t bore them with platitudes, just help them realize how one person can have an impact on changing things for the better’.”
Bernstein views his 7:00 a.m. piano-playing ritual as a variation on the morning workout. “Playing the piano sets me up for the day. It’s like an exercise workout. Classical music provides a tremendous release and gives you a strong sense of focus.
“And, let’s face it, once you’re over 50, it’s a lot easier to rip through a Beethoven sonata than a five mile run.”
He said his support for ETM was borne from the knowledge that a commitment to the study of music could ignite a passion for learning and drive to succeed in any field, a message that was illustrated in the comments of some of the many young students who performed during the gala.
“When I grow up I want to be a singer … and the Governor of New York,” said one young star.