Norwalk music education department has established a partnership with Ken Kuo whose business, Rental Instrument LLC, has a location at 547 Main Ave. in Norwalk, opposite the DMV.
Kuo presented Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Dr. Manuel J. Rivera with a giant check for $100,000 on Sunday representing a ten-year gift toward rental instruments and instrument repairs in the public school music program.
Sunday's event was more than the presentation of the giant check though.
Mayor Moccia and Schools Superintendent Rivera each spoke of the importance music played in their early years and expressed their gratitude on behalf of so many children who otherwise would not have an opportunity to learn an instrument.
"Music bridges economic gaps, bridges social gaps, bridges the normal barriers that divide countries and groups. Music brings people together," Moccia said, adding that he played the accordion before going into the air force. "Whether I played badly or well, I always enjoyed it and it gave a sense of gratification."
Norwalk schools superintendent Rivera talked about what this gift will mean to the music program.
"In our schools, in some of the closets and spaces in our buildings, are instruments that can't be used because they're broken, missing a part, missing a piece.... With this unique contribution of $100,000 over a ten year period, we'll be able to get more of those instrument fixed and into the classes, so that there will be access to more of our young people music."
"I know how important music is because both of my children who attended Norwalk Public Schools – played in the band, they played in the orchestra – I've always considered music a key essential component of our educational program."
Rivera explained that when he was younger he did not have the opportunity to learn an instrument, "because in fourth grade we couldn't afford a clarinet, $7.00 a month, and I vowed I'd never let that happen to my children. And this gift is going to allow us to make instruments available to families where the need exists."
Kuo, who is founder and president of Rental Instruments LLC, which has locations in Westport, Greenwich and Norwalk played a beautiful rendition of the national anthem on the cello to kick off the event.
Attending the event was Kuo's lifelong friend Neer Zeevi, who drove from New London with his wife and toddler.
"Besides being a wonderful teacher and wonderful musician, he is generous and the most loyal guy in the world. To his family and the community," said Zeevi, who first met Kuo when the pair were 12-year olds studying cello under the same teacher.
Kuo reflected on a moment a school parent showed him music stands at Marvin School in Norwalk that were duct taped together and shared by not two, but four students.
"When you ask, you shall receive," Kuo said of that parent's suggestion that he help the music students in Norwalk.
Rental Instrument LLC offers band and orchestral instruments to musicians throughout Fairfield County, including violins, violas, cellos and bass as well as woodwind and brass instruments, including flutes, clarinets, saxophones, baritones, trumpets and trombones.
Kuo is an award-winning cellist. He is the founder and president of the Connecticut School of Music, located in Westport and Greenwich.
He also is the creator of the Connecticut Musical Artists Foundation, a nonprofit organization which assists students with musical and financial needs.
Kuo has taught at Yale University, Taiwan National Teachers College, Thames Valley Music School in Connecticut College, Ithaca Violoncello Institute, University Antonio Nanino in Colombia and the New England Music Camp. He is also the Director of Classical Music Service, a chamber music management agency.