Oppor-tune-ities Keep Her in Business

Gannett Suburban Newspapers

Carrie Feiner thrives on opportunity. And when an opportunity doesn’t come her way, she creates one – like her music entertainment business, Carrie Feiner Enterprises.

But while Feiner may book her musicians for the usual occasions, she find some unlikely spots as well – supermarkets, condominium developments, even bus stops.

"What I find exciting," she says, "is trying to convince people to have concerts in places that nobody ever had concerts before." And while the various settings Feiner finds may be far from glamorous, they provide the one vital ingredient for musicians -- an audience.

Once, for example, she convinced a real estate company in New York City to hold a series of 30 concerts in front of its office building. What was the hook? It was the middle of the winter, and the musicians performed in the snow. "(The musicians) loved it… They needed a few more breaks that normal to keep warm. But they really enjoyed it after they finished playing when they could tell people, ‘You won’t believe where I just played,’ " Feiner says.

Feiner, of Hartsdale, graduated from Juilliard School of Music with a master’s degree in 1981. She wanted to play piano publicly for a living but quickly discovered the supply of talented musicians is greater than the demand. Feiner’s brother, Paul, a Westchester County legislator, suggested she go into business. She decided to organize a company and convince businesses that they needed her service. "You know, basically a lot of people just aren’t that into having music, and you just have to sell it," she says.

Sell she did. From a desk at home, with one card file and a telephone, Feiner spent every day drumming up business. The responses were usually negative. Those who were interested wanted more than a piano soloist. From there, she started to put together groups of musicians she know from Juilliard. In 1984, Feiner’s efforts paid off.

A real estate concern that handled a building in Manhattan agreed to give Feiner a chance. "Actually, at the time, they had already been holding concerts there with Queens College," says Feiner, "but I convinced the real estate agent that I could do a better job."

Now Carrie Feiner Enterprises presents more than 400 events each year in Manhattan, Westchester, even Japan. Feiner has the names of 300 to 400 musicians at her fingertips. She also plays on occasion.

One performance she will always remember was playing piano for New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch at Gracie Mansion a couple of years ago. It took more than five years of letter writing and red-tape wrangling to arrange. "I was really excited because I ended up playing not only for the mayor, but for his guests, too, which included Jacqueline Kennedy (Onassis) and Gloria Steinem," Feiner says.

Now that Feiner has played at Gracie Mansion, she’s hoping to find even more opportunities – "perhaps a personal date to play at the White House."

If the opportunity doesn’t present itself, she’ll find a way to make it happen.