Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pianos in the Parks

People don't move to New York for the scenery. People move to New York for the other people. Anywhere else in the country, my household income of upper middle class would afford me more than a one bedroom 4th floor walk-up. In Manhattan, I aspire to a place where I can blow-dry my hair without turning off the air conditioner and a dishwasher that doesn't need to be asked nicely.  I can't even dream of a laundry that doesn't require quarters. No, you move to New York City to be around the most interesting people per square foot.

This town is set up to encourage a devotion to your creative side by taunting us with neighbors who have given up the day job, the artist brass ring. This passion is being seen outdoors all summer with 60 pianos around the city.  One evening, I was walking through Central Park after dark and heard a swelling concerto. The experience of stumbling upon music in the city is common place but in the right moment it feels like unwrapping a present. 

Thursday, one of my friends invited me to an evening of show tunes in Lincoln Center. I don't think or myself as a huge fan of show tunes but it sounded like an unexpected way to spend an evening that my new found free time allows. This summer is full of yes.

My not being a fan of show tunes? Apparently that is a lie I told myself.  I not only knew most of the songs but also the lyrics. When I got home, I put on a cassette of Chess-- second only to Annie as musical soundtrack of my troubled youth--- that drove my dishwasher into the bedroom with mumbles about bleeding ears.

There were challenges with playing outside that I hadn't thought of before hand. The wind would pick up, making my role of page turning into page holding down.  We had a great time and drew a crowd ranging from preschool through retirement.

Someone asked play a short piece on the piano we were show tuning on so of course we turned it over. It turned out to be Eric Clark, an accomplished young pianist. Eric is trying out many of the pianos when he comes to the city from New Jersey a few times a week. He told us a bit about his findings, from pianos missing peddles to tilting heavily. The public has drastically different responses to his music. Some people, impatient for their toddlers to climb up to the bench and feel the keys, have nearly started fist fights while others have taken him out for dinner. This city expands  to fit all of us.

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