Summertime, and the living is easy at 6:00 in Central Park. Trees and statues provide shade, and anyway, it’s a bit cooler today. POHC-ers arrive by twos and threes, congregating in their brightly colored tops, new members making the acquaintance of old ones. No lay-lee-la-lo-loo today. Instead, off to the side, Renee and Leslie go over the guitar chords that will accompany us. Rene travels light tonight—no piano.
At 6:30 we arrange ourselves on the steps of the concrete pedestal at the base of the fountain and statue. Nearby is the portable billboard with our name and logo. We open with “Down By the Riverside,” and people stop to listen and take photos. Next is “Guantanamera.” One man sings along with the Spanish, and when it’s over, tells us he’s from Cuba.
Singing in the park is different from singing indoors, where people come specifically to hear us. Our audience tonight happens upon us as they walk by, mostly adults, a few children. There is a look of delight, and they stop for one or two songs before continuing on their way.
Our program is light, in keeping with the ambiance: “This Little Light,” “Lonesome Road” (Gail on solo), “ Michael,” “Give Us Hope” (this turned into a clap-along), “Siyahamba” (Rene told the new members to just hang in there), “Rocka My Soul,” and “Let There Be Peace” (Deb on solo).
Rene says that’s the end of set-one. Take a break before set-two. He also says he lost his pick. A member of the audience who was holding a guitar case gives Rene a pick. Some choir members talk with family or friends who are in the audience. The rest sip water and chat, cocktail-party style.
We reassemble for set-two. Same songs as set-one, minus a few. Same transient, appreciative audience. We also compete with a drummer, the sound of the fountain, a siren. In the space between the choir and where the audience congregates, two cyclists go around and around the statue, passing in front of us numerous times. There’s also a woman with a dog. A man shouts something we can’t make out, but it appears to be unrelated to us. Rene keeps conducting, and when the song is over, says, “ “What was that about?” We conclude set-two with “Let There Be Peace” and take a bow to applause. By now it’s twilight.
All in all, a perfect opener to our fall season, and a good get-your-feet-wet concert for the newbies. We leave knowing we brought smiles to many people’s faces, and that even in this informal setting, our message of peace came through.
It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn’t take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you’ll join us at a future concert