Friday night a friend and I knew why we love NYC. We attended The Music of Gerry Mulligan at Julliard. The jazz pianist, Bill Charlap, was the conductor. In addition to leading the Julliard Jazz Orchestra, Charlap played several of his favorite Mulligan pieces. As if this
weren’t enough, he also gave succinct summaries of Mulligan’s musical development. Line for Lyons was a tribute to Mulligan’s pianoless quartet that played at the west coast club, The Haig. .Everyone who’s interested in jazz knows that Mulligan played the baritone saxophone. I had not realized what a fine composer he was. Thanks to Julliard, now I do. The audience in the Peter Sharp Theatre was a mix of family (“My grandson is the drummer,” a very proud grandfather told me.), fellow students who shouted encouragement whenever their musician pal was cited by Charlan and the rest of us jazz lovers.
It’s great fun being a two hour docent at Judson Memorial Church during Open House New York. People are in awe seeing the LaFarge stained glass windows. They soak up the Judson history and nod approvingly when told that Judson welcomes all, whether you believe in a religion or not is your business as is your sexual orientation. Some know about Judson’s rich theatrical and dance history. Because we don’t have pews, many are surprised it’s an active church. It is wonderful to stand in a church you know well and have other people, in their delight, remind you of how luck you are to be a member of such a special space.
On Sunday I was a docent for Open House (www.ohny.org). It focused on tours and talks about New York buildings and sites. My building was the Judson Memorial Church, built by Stanford White in 1890-92 and situated at the south end of Washington Square Park. Since taking photos was allowed, people clicked away at the John LaFarge stained glassed windows. My favorites are the boys in the back room or the balcony, Peter, Paul and John.The rosettes that decorate the arches were later repeated by White in his design of the Washington Square Arch.
On Tuesday, I watched politicians congratulating themselves as Mayor de Blasio announced that Blackstone is buying the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village apartment complex, built in the late 1940’s. Blackstone will pay over five billion dollars for 80 acres that house thirty thousand people in eleven thousand apartments. Wow!
At the Arsenal, the Garden and Forest Book Club discussed Andrea Wulf’s book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. Humboldt was an environmentalist, explorer, and naturalist. The list of his achievements is extraordinary and yet he’s forgotten. Wolf explains in her book that she want to re-ignite recognition of Humboldt. One of the fringe benefits of meeting at the Arsenal is getting off the subway at 57 Street and Fifth Avenue. MTA has done itself proud with murals of birds and other animals in the nearby Central Park Children’s Zoo.