in Checking In, Music, Travels

New York City and Carnegie Hall

Ligon Middle School performs at Carnegie Hall

Ligon Middle School performs at Carnegie Hall

Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks not just for me but for all of us. Hallie took three days off of school last week to travel with the Ligon Philharmonic Orchestra up to New York to play at Carnegie Hall. Kelly, Travis, and I along with Kelly’s parents joined her after taking the bus up.

We arrived Friday afternoon and had plenty of time to do some sightseeing. First we checked in at the Union Theological Seminary which was to be our hotel for the trip. Then we hit the subway to check out downtown.

Our first stop was the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d seen it from a distance of course but had never walked over it before. It was windy, cool, and very crowded, but it was nice to be able to say I’ve been across it.

While deciding what to do next, I decided I wasn’t feeling well and made my way back to the hotel (an adventure I will write about next). After a comfortable night back at Union, we were all ready to go to the show.

We met Hallie at the Park Central hotel, a half a block away from Carnegie. She and her fellow musicians were dressed formally and were all ecstatic. Hallie kept telling us “I’m all HYPER!!” She wasn’t the only one! All the kids were practically bouncing off the walls, ready to play. We got out of their hair and decided to scope out Carnegie in the meantime.

The concert hall was as beautiful as I’d always been told. It also sounded superb. There were dozens of ushers all seemingly bored, and several families were already seated in the audience. I snapped photos of the hall and lobby before the performance since I knew when the performance began I would produce my camera at my own peril. Some ushers were being very aggressive in enforcing their no-photographs policy.

I do not know what the fuss about no photography was about. The kids all paid big bucks to be there, the ticket prices were steep, and it’s not like the performers themselves had any issues with photography. No professional was filming the performance, either, so it’s not like photographers were cutting into their profits. Heck, at times there were more kids on stage than there were audience members. I figured if these kids had worked so hard and paid so much to play at Carnegie Hall I wanted their performance to be seen by more than the three dozen audience members.

After one usher reminded us for the umpteenth time not to take photographs, another one behind her mumbled “or at least don’t be so obvious about it and use a flash or something …” That was all I needed to use my knee as a tripod and film from the aisle!

The performance from Asheville’s Rock Creek Middle School was first. The school had a posse, with plenty of family and friends in the audience. Their performance was good, though it was punctuated twice when the orchestra had to stop and let union stagehands rearrange their chairs for them. It made me so miss the trade shows I attended in New York … or not.

After a short break Ligon took the stage and the school had brought a ringer! One of Mrs. Johnsen’s former students is an accomplished violinist who performed as the soloist on two pieces. She and the band were outstanding – so good that you could forget that these were middle school musicians.

Ligon did a half-dozen pieces before taking their bow. I snapped a bunch more photographs during the applause and then, gathering Hallie with us, we stepped out into the bright New York sunshine for the walk back to the hotel.

The rest of Saturday was spent exploring Central Park. We also made time to visit the Guggenheim, sample some wares from street vendors, explore Broadway, take a stroll on the Columbia University campus, and stop in a pizzeria for dinner.

After retiring relatively early for New York, we packed up our things, hopped on the bus, and stepped off in DC four hours later. That’s when we parted with Kelly’s parents and drove the rest of the way back to Raleigh.

It was a whirlwind trip but fun nonetheless. I’m so glad we all got to go!