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Douglas Campbell

Breakfast with Harry

September 11, 2011 at 5:18 PM

My daughter Genise asked me to come to the restaurant she works at to meet one of her favorite regular customers. ”Dad can you please come for breakfast and meet with Harry??, he’s a retired musician from the Cleveland Orchestra and he wants to meet you and talk about your new invention…he reminds me so much of Grandpa Campbell”…..

Thanks to Genise, I was fortunate to meet Harry Barnoff for breakfast. He’s a 46 year retired member of the Cleveland Orchestra, a former WWII Army Orchestra member that played for our troops and former Presidents, and many other notable accomplishments. Over several cups of coffee, we shared our common interests in music, and as it turns out, he was the string teacher and mentor for Nathaniel Ayer’s, a young musical prodigy, troubled with depression, who was discovered in L.A. by Steve Lopez (L.A. Times columnist) homeless and playing an old Violin for pocket change.(that was missing half the strings!!)

Through Steve, Nathaniel began to share his story that began at a young age with lessons from Harry, then Ohio University School of Music, Julliard’s School of Music and eventually the streets of Los Angeles.

This inspired Lopez to contact Harry regarding his former student and write the true story that is featured in his best selling book “The Soloist” and in the 2009 movie with the same title that features Jamie Foxx (as Nathaniel Ayers) and Robert Downey Jr.(as Steve Lopez)

As Harry sat across from me, he told me the story of Nathaniel…it was hard not to break into tears.. This has been one of the most humbling, saddest, and inspiring days I can remember…I made a new friend through music..Thanks Gen!! I love you!


Google “The Soloist” and Harry Barnoff…it will brighten your day!


Harry Barnoff

From Amy Jean
Posted on September 12, 2011 at 10:43 PM

I saw the movie The Soloist with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. and it also brought me to tears! Just the way that Steve Lopez was so determined to help out Nathaniel and how he really cared about him and getting his story out  was touching. A very inspirational story that anyone who plays music or loves it should check out!

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on September 12, 2011 at 11:21 PM

I  read the book recently.  it was at our library and I avoided it for months because I avoid things that get too much publicity.  But this book lived up to its reputation.  Not only was Nathaniel's story compelling, but I really felt for the author who put so much of his time into Nathaniel, as well as for the author's wife who was such a good sport.  The personal angle for me was Gary Carr, who we've seen in concert a couple of times and really enjoyed.

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