Three men standing and smiling together
Desi Alston (middle) at the 2017 Temple University Chairman's Dinner with Richard Englert (left) and Patrick J. O'Connor (right)

The Edgar Ortenberg Bowed String Instrument Scholarship Fund honors the life and legacy of renowned violinist and former Temple faculty member, Edgar Ortenberg.  

For generations of violinists, Edgar Ortenberg was an icon. To Desimont “Desi” Alston, BYR ’74, he was so much more.

Today, Alston is an acclaimed violinist at the National Symphony Orchestra, the same company he joined nearly 50 years ago at the impressive age of 21 years old. His introduction to Ortenberg, a former member of the famed Budapest String Quartet and renowned musician in his own right, came at just nine years old as a student at the Philadelphia Settlement Music School.  

After famously poaching Alston from another teacher, Ortenberg, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 96 years old, served as Alston’s violin instructor throughout his youth and adolescence. At 70 years old, Ortenberg followed his rising talent to Temple without hesitation, says Alston, joining the Boyer College of Music and Dance as head of its string department, remaining until his retirement in 1988.

As a musician and a role model, Ortenberg’s influence was unmatched. Now, Alston is honoring his mentor’s legacy with a meaningful gift that will support Temple’s next generation of musical leaders.  

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