Despite sockets of heavy rain around the city last night, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic took the stage at the Great Lawn in Central Park for the annual Concerts in the Park series. This is, quite possibly, my favorite summer event in NYC. I hear rainwater is pretty bad for wood instruments and picnics, and it understandably deterred some of my friends from joining the music. Regardless, a few of us hopefuls still ventured out – armed with trash bags to protect our blankets and bums from the wet grass.
I like to think our picnic fare matched the intensity of the impressive music lineup for the evening. Instead of opting for the gourmet picnic option on the Philharmonic website (choice of filet mignon, salmon or chicken!), my group perfectly executed the potluck picnic: strawberries, hummus, pita chips, pretzel chips, salsa, tortilla chips, salad, appetizer roll-ups, artisan bread and pesto, etc. Pair these delicacies with Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Gershwin and we had ourselves an evening!
For the first time since I’ve been going to the Concerts in the Park series, I could actually see the conductor on the stage and was sitting on the Great Lawn itself instead of under some side tree due to the thinned crowds from the shady weather. This crowd was the most attentive I have ever seen, which may be because we could all actually hear the dazzling Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and zealous pianist Lang Lang. In case you are unfamiliar with his work, Lang Lang seriously knows how to rock out. Take a look at his rendition of Rhapsody in Blue (my favorite) below.
In addition to Gershwin, the SSO also played Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture,Rossini’s Largo al factotum della citta from The Barber of Seville, Gounod’s “Je veux vivre” from Roméo et Juliette, Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” from Don Giovannii and Guang Zhou’s Go and See the World. This was quite the set list and, unfortunately, it took the stage hands about 50 minutes to change orchestras to prepare for the New York Philharmonic’s set. My group was losing steam and decided to leave after Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene because us working folk need our beauty sleep. That turned out to be an excellent call because as I arrived home it was lightly raining and the fireworks had been cancelled (the real travesty!).
Though it seems I’ve been neglecting the Summer Bucket List, I am now re-focused, moved into our a new apartment, and prepared to hammer out a few of these items in the near future. After last night, cross of number 18! If you’re interested in seeing the Concerts in the Parks with the philharmonic, there is another show tonight in Central Park, though the weather is looking bleak, and one tomorrow in Queens and Friday in Brooklyn.