Several years ago on a trip to New York I was on the Subway and got off at 66th Street near Lincoln Center. Upon walking closer to the exit I could hear this lovely mellow music being played. The sound of the instrument was low in pitch and moving with an expression of such emotion. Alright I seem to be getting carried away but I really want you to imagine being there. When I turned the corner I could see a young man playing a beautiful cello and his cello case open and people had placed tips inside for this budding musician. This is not an uncommon sight in New York City rather one of the many I have had the opportunity to enjoy. Street players are many in number and in all different venues from subways to parks to street corners, the sounds of saxophones, trombones, flutes, and cellos create such a festivity in the air. It’s fascinating how so many people who are in a hurry, chatting on cell phones or talking with friends, will stop and listen for a minute and many will leave a tip for the performance. It’s a moment in time to enjoy the soul of the artist as he performs his passion. I’m not trying to imply he or she is not motivated to earn a tip but I look at the unique personality and vulnerability of that person. Hearing the cello player in the subway inspired me to pursue taking cello lessons. I was fortunate to find a teacher in Vero Beach Florida who had been a member of the World Orchestra. He was now retired and giving lessons in his home. After taking lessons for six months and really appreciating the beauty and sound of this great instrument,I had another magical NYC moment. I was shopping with my Daughter at the Food Emporium across from Lincoln Center when Yo Yo Ma came into the store. I quickly walked down to where he was standing and waited a minute to approach him.I actually grabbed a box of cereal off a shelf and then proceeded to stand behind him in line at the checkout. I was so excited and my heart was pounding and then very nonchalantly said excuse me are you the famed Cellist? He humbly replied, “no, I’m just a cellist,” and smiled. We then spoke for a few minutes and I asked him if I could have his autograph and he picked up a blank white piece of paper by the cash register and he wrote Dear Denise, To my fellow cellist. Warmest wishes, Yo Yo Ma! As he handed it to me he gave me a big hug and I was thrilled beyond words. To have met such a wonderful humble man, that was so happy to chat and make me feel special as a “fellow musician,” was truly an honor!
I have so many music memories, but I’d like to leave you with this funny story. Walking in Central Park one morning, I saw a women playing a harp. I walked over and listened and noticed she was selling CDs. I asked her how much they were and when she told me I thought I would stop back and get one after having coffee. As I turned I also realized she might move on, so I said to her, “I’d like to purchase your CD but only have a ten dollar bill and I am on my way to get a coffee.” She said that’s ok keep a dollar out for coffee and I’ll accept nine dollars. Before I realized what came out of my mouth, I said, “where can you get coffee for a dollar!.” I actually couldn’t believe I said that and yet it came out LOL. She laughingly remarked ok take two and leave me eight! I happily gave her my ten dollar bill and she handed me back two dollars and I walked away with my new CD and yet another great lesson. I realized she was in a better place than I that day. Not only would she have played for free, even without an audience, but upon seeing my enjoyment, she was willing to give back to me so I could enjoy it many times to come. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org This will always be one of my special memories and I’m posting her email address so you can check her out on the net and see her short video on you tube.
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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