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Harvey Cohen and Michael Tardif

Harvey Cohen and Michael TardifHarvey Cohen and Michael Tardif were so excited when Strathmore opened in February 2005 as the second home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. They were delighted to have "a great orchestra and world-class concert hall" so close to their home in Bethesda. Harvey and Michael quickly became BSO subscribers, and in 2010 they relocated right next to Strathmore. "Now we walk to concerts, and the music follows us home. We are very spoiled!"

Harvey, a hydrogeologist, studies piano; his husband Michael, an architect, studies voice. Both are passionate about music, especially live performance in a beautiful concert hall with state-of-the-art acoustics. "There is nothing like the experience of live performance," says Harvey. "There is nowhere else you can go to hear quiet, unamplified music." To which Michael adds, "For the price of a ticket, you have something that stays with you forever. I live for those performances that last a lifetime." Favorite BSO moments include Bernstein's MASS, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (anytime!) and Act 1 of Die Walküre during the 2011 Wagner centenary.

Harvey and Michael believe that everyone, especially children, should have the opportunity to hear and perform music. You learn to "listen carefully, absorb the music, soak it in." They know that musical training develops critical thinking and communication skills and note how well-spoken and poised young musicians are. Both agree that OrchLab, OrchKids and other BSO education and outreach programs are essential.

Harvey grew up in Queens, regularly attending musical and theatrical performances in New York City, both as a student and with his family. His mother was an amateur flutist with the Queens Symphony Orchestra, and he has played the piano and sung in choruses since childhood. Michael grew up in rural Maine, where opportunities to study music or experience live performance were more limited. He has special memories of listening to symphony and opera recordings with his family and enjoying live performances of touring chamber ensembles at his school.

"My life is so enriched by classical music," Harvey says. "I can't imagine a world without it. Exposure is so important!" Michael had no idea how difficult it is to become a world-class musician until he began studying voice. This experience has deepened his appreciation of what professional singers and musicians do, especially the mastery of both the technical demands and emotional expression that opera singers must achieve to sing and act simultaneously.

"Imagine hearing Mozart, Brahms or Beethoven live in their day," says Harvey. "It's still exciting to hear their music live. Now everything is accessible through technology, but no recording can come close to live performance. Part of hearing is feeling—it's a visceral connection." He delights in being surprised by unexpected musical interpretations, especially when performers take advantage of the acoustical differences between the Strathmore and Meyerhoff concert halls.

To give these experiences to future generations, Harvey and Michael have made a bequest to the BSO. "You can't take it with you, but you can give the amazing gift of music! Live performance is ephemeral. If you're not there in the moment, it's gone. You have to make it possible for other people to have that experience."

Your Musical Legacy

Please let us know if you have named the BSO in your estate plans—we would like to thank you! To learn more, please contact Office of Philanthropic Giving at 410-783-8087 or