Sunday, May 25, 2008

New York-Pen Festival-Day 2-Grand Central Station

Years ago, when I was a teenager thinking of becoming a nun, I used to take the train from the small town of Suffern (where I went to an all girls’ Catholic boarding school) to New York City in order to see my spiritual director. When the train arrived at Grand Central Terminal, I transferred to the subway to head downtown.

It had been 50 years since I last visited the station and during that time has been slated for demolition, saved by a Supreme Court decision, and transformed into an architectural wonder by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). On May 2nd, I decided to take a memory walk back to the station and was stunned at its new beauty. I gaped at the ceiling, lusted through its food markets, gawked at the travelers bustling through it. But best of all, I arrived at the tail end of the Music Under New York auditions. Not that I was glad to have missed most of it but rather than I was glad I hadn't missed all of it.

Music Under New York is “one of the many visual and performing arts programs administered by the MTA. subway riders in New York City are treated to sound provided by all types of musicians and performers sound . . .More than 100 performers and ensembles participate in over 150 weekly performances in approximately 25 locations throughout the transit system.”

I inched my way into a mix of several long tables of audition judges, rolling cameras and newscasters, and people like me lured by the sound emanating from a second story balcony. A sister act was rolling to a close and a Scottish bagpipe player, complete with tartan kilt and hat, waited in the wings. What I wouldn't have done for a camera (imagine touring New York on my own and forgetting my camera?). And he was good! Could get that bagpipe to hymn tunes of sorrow and of joy. Nothing like a good highland dance tune to get the blood up. Next to perform were an ensemble of Chinese musicians playing historic instruments, a brass group served up some real smooth jazz, and a blues, bluegrass, folk five-some fiddled and stumped up a storm. Please forgive the lack of specifics as I didn’t have a note pad and had only my cell phone with me (not exactly the best cameras . . . hence the less than wonderful photo). I returned the next day to take photos with my digital camera . . . and though the terminal was still impressive the performers were not there to add their timbre to city architecture. (Play on words deliberate).


Jo said...

Wish I'd seen it, sounds great.

Diana Raabe said...

Grand Central Station is one of those places you just have to see. What a great day!