Twenty Years and 10 Minutes to Get to Carnegie Hall

by Karen Amster-Young

“Everywhere in the world, music enhances a hall, with one exception: Carnegie Hall enhances  the music.”Isaac Stern

I don’t know why it took me so long.  About twenty years and ten minutes to be exact.  Twenty years to make plans to go and then a 10-minute cab ride and there I was, standing outside of Carnegie Hall.   I couldn’t believe how easy it was and, as is often the case lately, wondered why it took me so long to get to… (go ahead…fill in the blank).  That’s why it was on my “52” list:  take time for classical music and see a concert at Carnegie Hall. I have always been drawn to classical music:  it silences my over-active brain and calms my nerves when I hear it, usually by accident (movie background music, in a store, randomly found on a radio dial).

I went with my husband and some friends.   I was skeptical at first, wondering if my mood would be in the right place or whether I would be better off at a mediocre Jennifer Aniston movie or eating small plates of something somewhere. That’s the problem with buying tickets in advance:  you never know how you will feel that day.  The upside of buying tickets in advance? You rarely cancel and “push” yourself to stick to a plan instead of wavering or doing the usual, often routine things.

Carnegie Hall is an incredible place. Despite being a New Yorker for over two decades now, for some reason I just haven’t gotten there since I was a kid —  for a field trip I think. Upon entering you feel transported to a different time and place, a time of elegance and grandeur.  And if you ever forget why you love New York City (or are trying to figure out if you ever did), it will remind you that there is a world beyond the Second Avenue subway construction, school drop off and pick-up and long lines at Starbucks.

The program for the night was the St. Louis Symphony orchestra, playing a number of programs with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 as the highlight. But that’s not really the point.  It was more about being there, experiencing Carnegie Hall and listening to music other than Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber on Satellite Radio with my daughter on the way to school.

Our seats, perched high above and to the side of the orchestra were incredible.  My friends had purchased the tickets as a gift (long story there) and we were in prime box seats sitting on decadently comfortable chairs that reminded me of plush bar stools (yes, I will admit: bar stools are familiar to me so I was immediately at home).  What I loved about the seats though was seeing the conductor – the incredible David Robertson — from the side and almost the front — instead of staring at the back of a moving tuxedo.  You couldn’t help but feel his passion for the music.  His amazing gray hair flew back and forth in tandem with the music as he expertly guided the orchestra through the program.  Being that I often think about weird things I wondered if you can be hairless or bald and be as effective a conductor.  In my opinion, Robertson would not have had the same impact if it wasn’t for his wavy, gray hair effortlessly following every wave of his baton.

I loved the entire experience. I loved the elegant intermission complete with coffee or champagne. I loved the intimate environment filled with an eclectic crowd of people. I loved that I didn’t look at my BlackBerry for almost two hours which certainly would have been looked upon with disdain had I tried.  I loved the romance of it all, the detail and the architecture of Carnegie Hall and just the newness of it all.  I loved that my blog this year forced me to do this (with some tickets from my neighbors thank you very much).

I thought about the Lady Gaga concert I went to last year with my daughter and her friends (don’t ask). I thought about what I listen to on my iPod — everything from Elton John to Beyonce — and then I thought about the upcoming Stevie Nicks-Rod Stewart concert I was going to next month.  Where does or will classical music come into my life?  I don’t know.  It certainly doesn’t replace the other stuff. It’s just a totally different thing;  like moods that vary for food, fashion and even friends.  I just know I have to find a way to fit the classical music, New York City- experience into my schedule. And for that, I am grateful to be on this often challenging, difficult, irritating and fun journey.  A great poet, Berthold Auerbach once said that “music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.  He is totally right.  I’m just going to try to avoid Bieber in the morning. Unless, of course, that’s what my daughter really needs to prep for the challenges of 4th Grade.  I guess that’s really important too.

Here are this week’s “Getting Unstuck” Sticky Notes:

  • Remember, sometimes a 10-minute cab ride can change everything — in a good way.
  • If you listen to Bach, try the Beatles. If you listen to Beyonce, try Bach.
  • Look closely at other people’s passion for food, music, and life — it’s contagious.
  • Make a plan, stick to it and go no matter what your mood.

commentLeave a Comment (3)  

categoryPosted: 03/17/11 11:34 PM

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Minaz March 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Creative blog! Something different! I love the getting unstuck sticky notes section at the end of the posts! will be subscribing for the email updates!
Found you on Mommy Bloggers @ LinkedIN.


Julia Farrell March 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Loved this post. You really should check out the Family Concerts for your daughter. Prices are great, concerts about 1 hour long and aimed at kids. Great into to classical music.
keep experimenting with new things


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