For a quiet Midwesterner, Stan Spracker’s (‘06) arrival to his first Signature Program session was uncharacteristically dramatic. Having survived a car accident en route, Stan showed up late and shaken. And he was immediately welcomed by his concerned class -- save one.
“I was not one of those people checking in to see if he was ok,” jokes Josh Carin (‘06), Stan’s former classmate, and current best friend.
Good natured ribbing, and the occasional off-color joke, are a pillar of Josh and Stan’s decade-long relationship. But underneath their witty quips lives genuine love and respect, and a deep friendship that has shaped the lives and work of each.
As with many LGW Members, their relationship began during the Signature Program. But it didn’t deepen until the very end when Stan, President of the Levine School of Music, invited Josh, Founder and CEO of Geppetto Catering, to have coffee.
“He just seemed like someone I wanted to get to know a little better,” remembers Stan. “He really put himself out there during our program. He set a bar of being open and candid with classmates. And he was funny. He captured our attention.” Over coffee, Stan saw further some of the characteristics that continue to draw him to Josh today. “One of the things you quickly discover about Josh is his enormous heart.”
Josh was drawn to Levine’s work at THEARC -- a large center that pairs arts, social services, and education under one roof in a Southeast neighborhood where these are too often in short supply. And Stan was drawn to Josh’s clear business acumen, recognizing the value a private sector perspective would add to Levine. So, over coffee, Stan asked Josh to join his Board.
“Anyone who knows me knows how surprising this is,” says Josh. “I can’t sing. I can’t dance. But that was exactly what Stan was looking for.”
Within months, Stan’s instincts proved right when Josh proposed a revolutionary idea for Levine: What if the school created a business that places its instructors to perform at events? Soon thereafter, Levine Entertains was born, and with it a revenue generating enterprise for the school that connects talented faculty musicians with corporate and personal events -- from weddings to bar mitzvahs to funerals.
Today, Levine Entertains has raised more than $150,000 for scholarship support -- expanding access to Levine’s music education across the City. The balance of the revenue supports faculty, allowing them to showcase their talents as performers, a critical value add for these musicians, and Levine’s ability to keep them on staff.
“To be a working musician is a demanding life,” says Stan. “Musicians cobble together many different jobs, and they live to perform. If we can connect them to something they love, and provide them with a little extra income, we both win. Levine Entertains is also good for the school -- it helps us attract and retain some of the best music teachers in Washington.”
Josh also cites Stan for enhancing his professional capabilities and contributing to the continued growth and evolution of Geppetto Catering.
“Stan has taught me to slow down, to really reflect on things differently,” says Josh. “He is my compass.”
And in true Josh form, he doesn’t leave it at that.
“But, honestly, if you’d told me 10 years ago we’d be best friends, I would have said you were nuts.”