Monday, August 2, 2010

Music and Memory, part 12: First Chinese Presbyterian

Rodak has asked me to post my own pictures of New York on this blog. which I almost never do, since my photos are virtually all of my friends and family.  But as I was going on my rounds during last weekend's trip back, I got lost in Chinatown -- yes, this can happen, even if you've lived in the city your entire life -- and found myself walking past a place which was familiar to me, the First Chinese Presbyterian Church:

Which is hard by the Manhattan Bridge overpass:

What, you may wonder, was my connection with this place?  Well, the First Chinese Presbyterian Church was the site of my first orchestral gig, singing the soprano solos in the Vivaldi Gloria with a pick-up orchestra of conservatory students and a chorus of elderly Chinese ladies.  The alto soloist was a good friend of mine, who's gone on to an important career, though not an especially lucrative or renowned one.  We were conducted by a marvelously gifted South American lesbian, who had won a scholarship to the Tchaikovsky Institute in Moscow as a teen, but had switched her ticket at the last minute and gone AWOL from the conservatory, landing up in New York instead.  Upon disembarking at JFK, she fell in with the Moonies, and lived at their compound for a while, selling flowers on the street, but by the time I worked with her that was all in the distant past.  I have no idea what she's doing now.

I am not making any of this up, and I thought I would take a commemorative photo as I passed by.

1 comment:

Rodak said...

Thank you, Pentimento. I have been shamefully neglectful of your blog (and everyone else's) for a couple of weeks now. Just the quality of the light that comes through in your photos makes me pine for the City.
I once spent half a day with the Moonies, out of curiosity. I was unemployed at the time and had come down into Manhattan from the Bronx, following up on some kind of lead or another. It was a very hot day in the summer, and I was over-dressed because of my job-searching activities.
I was at 42nd St., on the steps of the Public Library, trying to get some relief from the sun in the shadow of the lions, when I was approached by a pair of young Korean women. They had spotted a loser in need of what they believed to be "help."
As I had nothing better to do, I went with them to a building in which a lecture (or sermon) was then conducted in the fundamentals of their church.
They phoned me, fruitlessly, a couple of times in the aftermath. I had given them my number with purely demonic intentions. But that one afternoon encompasses the whole of the story.
This was not exactly Chinese Presbyterians; but it's in the ballpark...