Interview with Allamae Graham

Mrs. Allamae Graham, a very youthful 94, epitomizes the concept of “paying it forward”.  Having begun playing the violin when she was around 8 years old, Allamae played in many different orchestras, musical trios and quartets (but never solos, she points out), all in the Los Angeles area, where she grew up.  She was in the LA All-City School Orchestra, the Pasadena Civic Orchestra, and the Huntington Park Orchestra, among others.   Once, she played with the Pasadena Civic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, under the direction of John Phillip Sousa!

For many years, Allamae used the same violin that she had used since she first started playing.  She says that it did not have a very good tone, maybe (or at least partly) because she had varnished it at one point.  She was playing with the Huntington Park Orchestra in the late 1940s when an older gentleman approached her.  He thought she was a very good violin player but with a very bad violin, and offered to give her a violin that he had, a violin that came from Germany.  She accepted the offer, and that was the violin that Allamae used from then on until she “retired” from playing about 10 years ago.

Thinking about what to do with her violin now that she no longer played it, Allamae felt that she didn’t want to sell it; as it had been given to her, so she wanted to give it to someone who would play it—to “pay it forward” just as the man who gave her the violin had done.  She happened to see an article in the paper about SOKM’s used instrument drive, asking for donations of used instruments for children in the PVSD-YAA music programs to use.  This suited Allamae’s desire for her violin to go on being used, so she donated it.  Not only that, but as the instrument and bow were in need of new strings and other refurbishments, she also gave a generous monetary donation to help pay for the refurbishment.

“Music is something you have all your life,” says Allamae.  She is happy that there is music instruction available for Camarillo children, and that her donation will enable children to participate in that instruction who otherwise may not have been able to afford or obtain an instrument.

Thank you, Allamae; SOKM is proud to be associated with people like you!

Watch the interview with Alamae Graham


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