New York, NY (Central Park) (Aug.2008)
Dear Readers,

Welcome back and thank you for visiting my journal. I am writing from New York City where I just had the opportunity to do a most unique and memorable concert last night. NY's Central Park has always been one of my favorite places in the world, so to get to give a solo concert there was pretty unreal.

In the center of Central Park there is a large, classically architected concert stage called the Naumburg Bandshell. If you've ever walked through Central Park's Mall (near the Bethesda Fountain), it's impossible to miss and quite a sight. They put on a series of four concerts there each summer organized by the heir of the bandshell. The organizer attended a concert of mine in NYC last year and then invited me to his series, and I've quite been looking forward to this ever since.

The setting is truly unlike any other I've ever performed in -- you're basically looking out over Central Park throughout the concert. The concert was at 7:30 pm and, from the stage, you can see the sun setting with people biking and rollerblading in the distance. Needless to say, quite an inspiring setting to perform in!

Despite a forecast for rain, the skies cleared and there was a terrific turnout. Probably around 2,000 people showed up (though it seemed like much more the way audiences are spread out in outdoor concerts). The seating area was full with the audience overflowing into the surrounding park benches and standing along the back. The first half of the concert consisted of the orchestra performing two works alone, and then the second half was my own solo feature with orchestra. I did four solo works (Ibert Concertino, Demersseman Fantaisie, and two Astor Piazzolla tangos which I just arranged). It was my first time performing these two tangos with orchestra, so I had been anticipating it. I had spent the past few months writing out the scores and orchestra parts, and to my surprise, they were a huge hit! Definitely something I'll be programming in the future. About mid-way through my portion it was already quite dark in the park, so you could only hear the audience --- but they couldn't possibly have been more receptive or enjoyable to perform for.

I suppose one of the things I enjoyed most about this concert was the informality of it all. It consisted mostly of people just passing by and stopping to hear some music in the park. No tickets, completely casual.

Central Park to me has always been like this other-worldly oasis. Few places are as crammed and excitingly hectic as Manhattan, and then suddenly one block over there is this unique tranquility and peacefulness, and from where you can always see the skyscrappers of Manhattan awaiting. The contrast always seems to amaze me...

The only down side - the trip was a rather short one. I arrived the day before the concert and now, the day after, I'm in a cab on my way to LaGuardia airport. I hope you enjoy the photos and sorry there wasn't time for more. I'll be back here in a couple months, so hopefully there will be more time then. Thanks to everyone for reading and until next time.

Yours truly,
Ashu
New York City
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Audience at the concert
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Central Park's "Mall"
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Bethesda Fountain in the Park
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Morning of the concert
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Strawberry Fields
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Orchestra rehearsing alone My saxophones Rehearsing some more
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Hot air rides over Central Park Walking through Central Park Orchestra opening the concert
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View of the audience Conductor's intro On stage
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Midtown Manhattan My hotel room Walking down 5th Ave.
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Inside the taxicab Cab's backseat self-pay Leaving Manhattan
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Outside Madison Square Garden Up close Steinway Hall
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The pianos Stars & Stripes Empire State Building
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....closer The New York Times Times Square
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Walking down Broadway Times Square M&M store Ferry to Staten Island
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Looking down Wall St. New York Stock Exchange Giant flag outside it
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