(Original broadcast, March, 2015) - The Philadelphia Orchestra has over 100 musicians, and as many stories - often inspiring and surprising. WRTI’s Susan Lewis profiles Bob Cafaro, a cellist in the Orchestra since 1985, whose artistry is matched by his determination to live fully, both onstage and off.
Susan Lewis: Fit and with a ready smile, Bob Cafaro looks barely old enough to have played under every music director since Ricardo Muti. Nor is there a clue that in 1999, Cafaro was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after suffering severe numbness, loss of vision, and more.
Bob Cafaro: I had over 50 lesions in my brain. I was unable to move my hands, I was legally blind...and I was told I’d be on permanent disability.
SL: Cafaro began researching stories of people who had beat the odds in different circumstances - from music and athletics, to traumatic events. He developed his own treatment, including meditation and changes in diet and exercise. Six weeks later, he went back to the Orchestra.
BC: They were great here. They enlarged the part for me, I sat by myself. I will forever be grateful for the way I was treated by the musicians, the staff…
SL: His lesions disappeared, and his abilities came back, along with his spirit and a continuing appreciation for his Orchestra and its heritage.
BC: To me, Muti was the ultimate in charisma, and Sawallisch came in and he was the pinnacle of musical artistry. And then Eschenbach...what a magician as a people person...and if you look at Yannick, you have the combination of all those characters in one package.
SL: Cafaro also teaches, plays recitals and chamber music, does solo work and volunteer activities, and has written a book on his successful fight against MS.