A Little Liszt, Some Rach and a Chorus of MTA Buses

WQXR Stages Participatory Performance at the New York Public Library

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 04:24 PM

Jeff Spurgeon and Naomi Lewin perform with Jing Li, as part of the Pop-Up Pianos project Jeff Spurgeon and Naomi Lewin perform with Jing Li (Brian Wise/WQXR)

For the second year in a row, WQXR jumped into the June 21st "Make Music New York" festival with both feet. Actually, with many more feet than that -- Jeff Spurgeon and I both sang, accompanied by Jing Li, who's a member of the WQXR music team, and we brought along an audio/video crew of three to capture it for you to enjoy on our Web site.

Well over a hundred fans of WQXR showed up at noon next to the New York Public Library's northern lion, Fortitude, to enjoy an hour of music with bus obligato (the "Sing for Hope" piano installed there competes with the M-1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines). WQXR listeners performed Beethoven, Broadway, jazz, and Rachmaninoff.

The "Battle of the Dmitris" included WQXR's own Dmitriy Krasny (he brought the Rachmaninoff), and a former Russian opera coach who gave an impassioned explanation of a Chopin etude. A 13-year-old kid named Koji Shiromoto knocked everyone's socks off with his performance of Liszt's Dance of the Goblins -- he was so good, we had him play it twice.

See you next year!

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Comments [17]

Henry from NYC

Any chance of seeing videos of some of the other performers?

Jun. 24 2011 04:10 PM
yichihara from NJ

Jeff and Naomi,
Thanks to the video, I enjoyed your humorous performance w/ LOL! and goose pump.

Whose idea was it??? I wish I could have been there, but was confined in a conference just 10 blocks away from the park the whole day.

Classical music should go outside more often, need exposure, being heard. Well, more classical music artists and students are on underground (i.e. subway stations) from singing to violin to cello to ... and from kids to adults.

Remember? Joshua Bell did public performance at Union Station in Washington D.C. a couple of years ago. WQXR, How about video taping and interviewing those underground classical music performers here and there in the City? It must be interesting!

Jun. 24 2011 02:26 AM
Frank Feldman


Jun. 23 2011 11:17 PM
D Tremper from Maplewood, NJ

How I tried to get there! Got to my train station in time to sit for quite awhile only to find out that the train was "indefinitely delayed" due to transformer problems. I waited for another while, hearing the same message repeatedly till I couldn't stand it any more, then tried the bike to the car to the bus to the PATH to the short hike to the library. I got there shortly after one to hear someone playing the piano on the Bryant Park Terr, and was told you folks had left. Seeing the shot posted makes me wonder if I was in the wrong place anyway. Double AARGH! I was so looking forward to seeing you guys. However, thanks to QXR for any opportunities alloted listeners to meet'n' greet, as well as posting video. It makes the station come more alive to both the hosts and the listeners. But I sure am jealous of those of you who got to hear the singing first hand!

Jun. 23 2011 06:22 PM
GCL from Astoria Queens

I actually did get a chance to speak with Jeff Spurgeon, and we spent an interesting time discussing the station. Also two particular works, one being the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, and the other being the Variations on a Theme of Paganini. You Naomi did indeed name it correctly. It seems Annie did not, but many years earlier.

You do realize that the lions do prefer classical music?

Jun. 23 2011 04:54 PM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

Me-owch! Almost as bad as barking Jingle Bells.

Don't quit your day jobs....oh wait....these are your day jobs!

Jun. 23 2011 04:08 PM

Diana --

I'm sorry that I didn't get to talk to you, too. Thanks for stopping by! The "Duetto buffo di due gatti" (Comic Duet for Two Cats) is attributed to Gioachino Rossini, but it's probably not really his. According to Wikipedia, it's "a compilation written in 1825 that draws principally on his 1816 opera, Otello. The compiler was likely the English composer Robert Lucas de Pearsall, who for this purpose used the pseudonym G. Berthold."

Jun. 23 2011 03:16 PM
Benita from Cary, NC

I've have heard this before and it was delightful again. YES the lions were even smiling. Thank you for putting sunshine on our faces! An ardent listener, even in Cary, NC.

Jun. 23 2011 03:11 PM
Diana B. from Cortlandt Manor NY

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff but was unable to stay to hear in person the " Meow" duet with Naomi Lewin. But thanks to the internet and WQXR I have been able to enjoy it now. Who is the composer of this amusing piece?

Jun. 23 2011 01:12 PM
Cynthia from NJ

It was too painful to watch.

Jun. 23 2011 11:56 AM
C. Larson from Manhattan

Sorry guys, but not my cup of tea. There are other "songs" available that are quite humerous, which perhaps you could have chosen. But maybe next time you'll do better with the "woof woof" duet.

Jun. 23 2011 10:06 AM
Andrea from Astoria, NY

Much fun for all. Even the lions were smiling.
Thank you Naomi and Jeff for a most professional performance!

Jun. 23 2011 01:39 AM
Wayne from Heart of the Midwest

At midday on the NYPL steps - had Jeff and Naomi put a hat on the sidewalk, I would have dropped $10 in it.

At 3 a.m. on my backyard fence, I would have aimed a beer bottle at them!

Thanks, folks, for your untiring efforts to enhance the dignity and decorum of WQXR!

Jun. 22 2011 11:23 PM
GeneO from NYC

Your performance was very different that I had imagined. Clearly you were able to have fun and indulge yourselves along with selecting this most unique piece.

It would have been nice to have short clips of the others that sat at the piano and performed.

Nonetheless, kudos to both of you for getting up in front of everyone and giving it your all.

Jun. 22 2011 10:29 PM
Martine Mallary from NYC

I knew Jeff Spurgeon and Naomi Lewin were multi-talented -- but I was AMAZED at their musical theater gifts, when they sang the "Meow" duet in such perfect synchronicity ("en plein air," at that! I didn't see any microphones). I would NEVER have assigned such a difficult piece to 2 radio personalities -- but they handled it BEAUTIFULLY! Thank you for posting the video.
Bravo from a big WQXR fan,

Jun. 22 2011 10:24 PM
linda from NYC

Brava/Bravo. Looks like you were having
fun too. Sorry I missed you live.

Jun. 22 2011 09:42 PM
reed kantor from deerfield beach, fla.

wish they had events like that down here in south florida!! we have one all classical music station here now.

Jun. 22 2011 07:28 PM

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