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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Ronnie Segev, Classical Pianist and Artistic Director of Ten O'Clock Classics

Ronnie Segev is a classical pianist and the Artistic Director of Ten O'Clock Classics (TOC), a performing arts group that works to bring classical music and the arts to a broader audience. Born to Israeli parents, Ronnie Sergev grew up in Houston, TX where he attended the High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), the same high school that Beyonce attended. In 1997 Segev was accepted to study at the Juilliard School, where he founded the Student Council and became its first President. Despite its 100 year history, students at Juilliard were generally too focused on their art to form a student government. With the support of the Joseph Polisi, the President of Juilliard, Segev successfully implemented changes to Juilliard, including improvements the liberal arts curriculum, and increased student privileges.

In 2000, Segev founded the Ten O'Clock Classics with the financial support of David Picket, real estate developer and President of the Gotham Organization. Ten O'Clock Classics was founded because Segev felt that Classical and Jazz Music, which he considers to be an incredibly relevant art form, was an integral enough part of the culture at large. Picket and Segev garnered additional financial support and put together a board which today funds many of the group's activities. Although the group performs regularly on the most prestigious concert stages, such as Carnegie Hall, TOC's unique appeal stems from their presentations in non-traditional venues such as legendary disco club Studio 54 and Crunch Fitness.Through these outreach concerts, Segev was working to change the perception of classical music as "old people's music." Instead, he created musical formats which were vibrant, exciting, and unexpected. Segev's TOC has enjoyed the support of A-List Celebrities like Billy Joel, who recently auctioned off a Steinway piano to support the group, and Jazz Legend Wynton Marsalis.

TOC's efforts include an education program that brings music lessons and instruments to talented underprivileged children in NYC. He believes initiatives like this program are crucial in keeping the arts alive in an age where many public schools are forced to cut or eliminate arts programs like music education altogether. TOC was most recently recognized by the NY Times, the Daily News and countless of other new outlets for their efforts to continue their program in spite of economic hardships.

In addition to his career as a pianist and Director of Ten O'Clock Classics, Segev has started and maintained several businesses, including Park Avenue Pianos, for which he is the President of the company, and a new venture called Condo Team Buy, designed to help consumers and everyday investors profit from the distressed real estate market in Florida. Condo Team Buy is set to launch in June 2009.

Peachy Deegan interviewed Ronnie Sergev for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is your first musical memory?
Ronnie Sergev: My older brother playing the small upright piano we had in our home.

What is it about classical music that makes it universally appealing?
Classical Music, through its thoughtful form and powerful rhythms, melodies, and when performed with passion and vigor, can be spellbinding for just about anyone.

Did you know Beyonce in high school?
Yes, I did the piano accompaniment for her a bit while she was in the opera program.

What inspired you to start the student council at Juilliard?
I wanted the students (who were generally too focused on their artistic craft to deal with the administration) to have a voice in the institution and the ability to make changes.

What is on the horizon for Ten O'Clock Classics?
We hope to continue to expand our reach to more schools.

How do you balance your Real Estate and Music careers?
It's difficult to balance music and my business side, but my wonderful colleague Tovah Rose is a great asset, and I can confidently ask her to share in the work's burdens.

What is your opinion on the Florida Real Estate Market? What are the best areas to buy in now?
South Beach and Sunny Isles

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Carnegie Hall

What is your favorite shop?
Whole Foods

What is your favorite drink?
A White Russian

What is your favorite restaurant?
Sushi Damo

What is your favorite NYC book?
Carnegie Hall, The First One Hundred Years

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
Walk in Central Park

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underrated are the people of NY and overrated is the "Sex and The City" Lifestyle..

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
That I host regular music salons at my home:

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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