Piano in the Park

I find traveling through the boroughs en route to Manhattan to be a test of endurance. 

There’s always traffic, obviously since we’re a big city, so I avoid weekday travel into the city as much as possible. However, when that weekday is a holiday, well, then it’s a wonderful time to be there. For me, one of the little perks of being in the city, is discovering yards and gardens even smaller than my own. Much smaller…

Urban Garden

Some of the other perks are the general sights and sounds.


The chatter, the horns, the emergency sirens. It’s all part of the landscape. As are towering skyscrapers – skyscrappers so high they dwarf the trees.

Despite all this wonder and majesty, I normally find the city overwhelming. But yesterday, Labor Day, was quiet in comparison to the regular everyday hustle. And so, we enjoyed a blissful lunch in Bryant Park while the magnificent Frank Owen entertained us with his imcomparable piano playing.


Piano in the Park, as it is called, features top New York Pianists playing music from Scott Joplin (my absolute favorite), Eubie Blake, the Gershwins and more. 
Every weekday from noon until 1:45, anyone can sit under the umbrellas or trees and soak up the toe-tapping music and city atmosphere. That is precisely what we did yesterday and loved every minute of it.

Of course… this IS New York, and a tiny scuffle or run-in with the law is neither unexpected nor disruptive.

You see, despite the police presence, which grew slighty and steadily until this gentleman vacated the premises as requested, the show indeed went on.

In fact, it went on so wonderfully that during Frank’s phenomenal piano playing, a hand-written note was passed among the audience. The note stated that yesterday was Frank’s birthday and so, when he stood to thank us all for coming, we should all stand and sing, Happy Birthday. Say what you want about New Yorkers, but we are a pretty cool bunch, each of us poker-faced after reading the note and nonchalantly strolling to the next person with it in hand. And every one of us standing at the end and joining in to wish this accomplished musician a wonderfully happy birthday.

He said we made his day. I must correct him. He made ours. 

(Please excuse the camera shake – I took this video with a tiny digital camera)

9 Responses to Piano in the Park

  • I love Scott Joplin music. What a wonderful way to spend a day. I envy you all the opportunities you have and thank you for sharing them with us. Okay, my eyes are suddenly moist. A very precious memory.


  • Piano in the park? What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing all the great photos.

  • Thanks for sharing your lovely day in New York. One thing I love to see,too, is all the dogs out going for walks. I also enjoyed hearing about the audience’s birthday salute to Frank. That’s another example of the community feeling you can get in NYC.

  • I know what you mean about traffic. I hate driving to LA because of the congestion. Glad you had a nice day in the city. Piano in the Park sounds lovely.


  • That is so cool! And, I have to tell you . . . it’s been a few years ago but I took a humanities class. One of our assignments was that we had to pick a song and write a paper on it. It couldn’t be just any old song, it had to be something you could not hear on the radio. The instructor suggested we get recommendations from friends and family and my mother recommended Joplin. Someone else had recommended Muddy Waters. When I went to the record store, I was able to listen to the Muddy Waters CD and thought I’d found a song I was going to write the paper on. The Joplin music, however, was only on a cassette tape and so I had to buy it to listen to it – which I did. I unwrapped it as soon as I got to the car and stuck it in the tape player. The first song was the one you recorded and upon listening to it, I KNEW it would be the song I would write my paper on.

    I got a 98 on the paper. It would have been a 100 had I remembered to make note of who the artist was playing the music. I’m going to try to find a copy of that paper – I think you might get a kick out of it.

    Oh, and thanks so much for sharing all your experiences with us. I, for one, really enjoy the snapshot into your life you give us. 🙂

  • Linda,
    Scott Joplin is my favorite. I learned piano as a youngin’ but until I played some Joplin, I didn’t feel like I’d really learned anything. What a great collection of music he created. I’m so glad you’re enjoying our adventures. I love sharing them.

    Piano in the Park lasts all summer until mid-October with a different pianist each week. It’s a wonderful experience. Did you get to see the video of it at the end of the post. LOVE it. 🙂


  • Rhonda,
    Community feeling in NYC. It’s something many people believe does not exist here – or in other big cities. It’s truly a warm and happy feeling. And yes – the dogs. The best part is dog walkers with more than a half dozen dogs scrambling along with them. It’s such fun to see. While I might not like the ‘big city’ atmosphere all the time, I do LOVE it all the time… if that makes sense.

    Traffic, ugh. My parents used to live in one of the other boroughs and while they were only 40 miles away, often it would take 2 or more hours to get to see them. Traffic, roadwork, accidents. You never know for sure how long a trip will take.


  • Laura,

    What a great story! And yes, I would love to read your paper. How cool that you not only chose Scott Joplin, but you chose this particular piece. By any chance, was the pianist – whose name cost you the 100% (bummer) – Sammy Price? I have two albums of his – yes, vinyl! – and he is/was (?) fantastic.


  • I see a lot of good content on your blog. You have to spend a lot of time writing, It’s all very interesting.

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