Once again rtb and I, along with violaleeblue this year, met on the Great Lawn in Central Park to watch the New York Philharmonic play for free. rtb brought a blanket, we each brought food and drink and we sat down in the oppressive heat and humidity to get some culture. We got a nice spot on the grass and by the time the music started all the spots around us were filled. Around us were groups of friends with elaborate set-ups – tables full of cheeses and fruit, meats and pizzas, and bottles and bottles of wine – and everyone was enjoying the last of the daylight. This year we were much further back than usual and by the time it was dark and the orchestra started the people around us were in too good a mood. I’m guessing that being far from the stage makes some less concerned about insulting the orchestra with their talking.
The Philharmonic started with Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104. Carter Brey played cello and Alan Gilbert was conducting. I love watching Gilbert because he’s so expressive. The piece had so many quiet parts that it was very hard to hear, so what we mostly got in the back was the big finish.
After intermission, we heard Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. This was a more familiar and intense piece but even then the audience in the back only got quiet for the really loud parts. I especially liked how some phrases echoed phrases played earlier and reached back and brought you forward again.
As soon as the music finished, the fireworks started. We took the long way out of the park and walked downtown about 30 blocks. Passing by the lake we could smell the fireworks (that’s where they set them off). Right after we passed the lake some more fireworks were set off so we got to see short second show.
Usually the Philharmonic plays two nights in Central Park and one night in each of the other boroughs. This year they only played one night – which I’ll take over the years that they didn’t perform in the parks at all.
This is a wonderful gift to NYC.
By Carene Lydia Lopez