Tuesday, July 15, 2008

NY Phil in Prospect Park

Monday night, I went to Prospect Park to watch the New York Philharmonic for free. It was fantastic! Susan, Patrick, and I rode our bikes there, first of all. Of course, this once again proved to me that New York City is the most bicyclist-unfriendly city in existence. There are barely any bike lanes anywhere. You're taking your life into your hands every time you want to go for even a short ride. I was, however, pleased to discover that Prospect Park, my second favorite park in New York (after the Brooklyn Bridge Park), is completely car-free! I just never realized before, but then Patrick told me such was the case. I'll have to go riding there more often now.

Anyways, the three of us brought blankets and picnic food, and met up with some other people who'd done the same and had already staked out a good seating area behind the center speaker. We couldn't see the stage very well from there, but we could hear it really well, which I think is more the point. The place was packed, too, so we may have had trouble hearing the music elsewhere, with all the chit-chat going on throughout the crowd.

I didn't pick up a program, so I don't know the names of the music the Phil played, but before starting, they did offer audience members the opportunity to text in (as in on a cell phone) their choice for the encore song (Do I detect an attempt to engage the young'uns here?). The choices were a theme from "Carmen" and an apparently less well-known French song (in honor of Bastille Day!). Unsurprisingly, the audience chose the "Carmen" song.

The performance was absolutely magical. Possessing little knowledge of classical music, I can't really critique the performance much (though it sounded just lovely to me). I can, however, describe the atmosphere. First of all, the sunset was brilliant. It was partly cloudy, which made for some really nice sky formations. The clouds maintained a dusky blue shade, and as the sun set, a bright pink and orange slowly overtook their undersides until the sun completely set. There's too much light pollution in NYC to ever see stars, but the moon was close to full and brighter than I'm used to seeing around here. Then once it was dark, fireflies came out! As I understand it, fireflies tend to prefer long grass and foliage, so it was a real treat to see so many of them mingling among the crowd. The temperature was also perfect: It was just cool enough to get away with long pants (which means no mosquito bites!), and not terribly humid. Now imagine all this with the NY Philharmonic playing in the backdrop. At one point, I said, "I feel like we're in a poem."

And then...

FIREWORKS!! YAY!!! These were really good ones, too (though they seemed unusually low to the ground...). The best was the very end, when firework after firework after firework just kept coming. These weren't the giant, loud, round ones. They were smaller clusters that fanned out when they exploded in the air; and it went on for what seemed like even longer than a usual finale. What a fantastically perfect end to the night. Yay summer! There's so much free stuff to do! Go here for a schedule of other Prospect Park activities (I especially recommend catching indie-rock band Deerhoof this Friday night).

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