Rockville artist, 83, combines music and art in Strathmore sculpture
Former engineer's wood sculpture inspired by a Franz Schubert piano quintet
Murray Stein has two passions music and art.
While his affection for music extends throughout his life, his artistic work in wood turning can be traced to his time as a volunteer at the Rockville Senior Center more than a decade ago; where the discovery of a woodshop led to his second life as an award-winning artist.
Combining the two was a recent accomplishment.
"I am always listening to music, especially in the studio, and thinking how great it would be to combine these passions of mine," he said. "Then, when the opportunity came, I couldn't pass it up."
The opportunity came in an offer by Eliot Pfanstiehl, president and chief executive of the Strathmore Hall Foundation Inc., to include one of Stein's pieces in the Strathmore Music Center in 2007.
"I've seen his work, and told him once that we'd love to have something of his, then one day, out-of-the-blue he just shows up with a small version of this sculpture and says this is what I was thinking,'" Pfanstiehl said. "I had no idea he could put something together like this."
On Tuesday, the nonprofit performance arts group formally accepted his wood sculpture "Schubert's Trout Quintet," making it the third piece of art featured in the building.
The sculpture is a combination of the five instruments featured in Franz Schubert's famous piano quintet; the viola, violin, cello, double bass, and piano along with a dichroic glass fish inlayed near the top.
Stein said he considers the piece a "labor of love" to the art community and designed it to inspire others.
It was constructed almost entirely through wood turning an art of carving natural materials on a rotating platform at the Rockville Senior Center over the past two summers by Stein, 83, who learned the technique while volunteering.
"I was there to help rebuild some wheelchairs that had broken," he said. "After that, I started volunteering; until I discovered the woodshop."
Stein, a retired engineer, said he volunteered at the center and throughout Montgomery County, visiting schools and libraries with his "making music with household utensils" classes as well as with the Rockville Seniors Inc. Board, an advocacy group for people older than 55.