The New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks are a NYC institution and always draws a huge crowd. This year I met my friend Jack and rtb in Central Park for the first of this summer’s concerts. Concerts in the Parks is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. The weather reports for the week had said that Wednesday would be only non-rainy day all week, so it seemed like the perfect day for listening to the Philharmonic. But a very sunny day turned cloudy and then drizzly by the time the orchestra started playing. It wasn’t a hard rain but the combination of the wind and the rain was wreaking havoc on the expensive instruments and the orchestra had to take a break until the rain passed over.
Conductor Alan Gilbert was very apologetic about the “moisture activity” and the fact certain pieces had to be cut from the program. We missed George Gershwin’s Lullaby for String Orchestra and Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, Suite for Orchestra. I was very disappointed. I also missed Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra because I was standing on a very long bathroom line. I did get to hear the encore, “New York, New York” with Joshua Bell on violin. The opening song’s music from On the Town was also written by Bernstein.
You need to get to the park early to get a spot and even though we were there at 6:00pm for an 8:00pm show we were still pretty far back. At that point you can only hear the orchestra through speakers and you’re surrounded by people drinking and enjoying the evening with loud conversation. It’s not the best way to listen to the Philharmonic but it’s a wonderful way to spend the evening with good friends.
The focus for that evening’s concerts was American music and the other pieces we did get to hear were:
Samuel Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal, Op. 5; Richard Rodger’s The Carousel Waltz; Leroy Anderson’s Fiddle-Faddle; and John Philip Sousa’s The Washington Post.
rtb and I were swaying back and forth for The Carousel Waltz and pretend marching while sitting for The Washington Post. Fiddle-Faddle had a circus-y theme going through it.
The evening ends with brilliant fireworks. Some of the fireworks didn’t make it above the trees but enough did so that there were a lot of thrilled oohs and aahs.
By Carene Lydia Lopez