Concert in the Park

The New York Philharmonic at Central Park, on Tuesday, July 15.

Lesson learned: When attending a free concert in Central Park, go directly after work to stake out a spot. In the past, I’ve done that as a matter of course, but the concert Tuesday snuck up on me, and I made a quick trip home to grab dinner and a blanket to spread on the ground. By the time I arrived at the park about forty-five minutes before the program began at 8, I could only find room about two-thirds of the way down the Great Lawn.

From there, I could barely hear the orchestra, particularly because at that distance most of my neighbors would best be described as picnickers rather than concert-goers. Not to be a snob, but I don’t understand their thinking. If you just want to eat and drink and talk and enjoy the outdoors, why attend a concert at all? Have a picnic some other night, and leave the concert-going for those of us interested in hearing the music!

I don’t mean to be bitter. I had a good time hanging out with a friend, and after we snaked forward, to a spot more to the side (and obscured by trees) but still closer to the stage, we could actually hear a little bit (the loud parts) of Beethoven’s fourth symphony and Sibelius’ Finlandia. But what I had really wanted to hear—what actually motivated me to make a last-minute trip to the park—was Lang Lang’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto, and that I missed entirely.

Oh well. I’ve learned a valuable lesson, and I’ll have other opportunities to hear Lang Lang. And the brilliant fireworks after the concert were a treat for us all, no matter where we sat. It wasn’t the evening I had hoped for, but it was fun even so.