I was on a walking tour when we came upon the Bethesda Terrace.
I love this area of Central Park because it is where most artists congregate. As a former singer, I can appreciate the perfection of the acoustics of the lower passageway, so often sought out by singers and musicians who have been retained by the city to play there.
The beautiful ceilings carved to depict wildlife and seasonal motifs, give off a golden glow on the sunniest of days and beautiful shadows in movement on days that might not be so bright.
But my favorite is the music. Sometimes it’s instrumental, sometimes it’s the sound of classical opera. On this particular day it was the sound of jazz, performed by a younger group of musicians. I loved the way the sound of their instruments echoed out to the lake, and how some of them closed their eyes when they sang or played their instrument, embracing their song and not the attention it may bring.
This city is full of so much talent. So many artists working hard on their dreams. In an age where it seems anyone with the right connections and limited skills can lock in a fast ticket to fame, in a city that often feels like it’s losing its sense of identity and brave, unique creativity, there still are those out there really working for it, really giving it all they have. Not relying so much on who they know, but what they’ve got to offer the world.
I long for these things in my city and in life. I long to see more artists and creatives with true stories to tell, overcoming creative hardships from which they grow to fill the world with their sounds and images and voices. I yearn for less pseudo success stories and social media celebrity hacks and more authenticity in art.
Standing there, listening to this group was as if everything I longed for was right in front of me. And instead of letting the moment flee, I chose to capture it, to remind myself that behind all the noise and distractions, there are still real people, doing the real work that it takes to make those dreams come true.
Here’s to their making it, for the sake of us all.
“City of Music” – New York City, 2014