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There’s Some Suite Music Bach in New York

October 22, 2010

  Through my travels around Europe over the years, there’s one bright memory that always jumps to the forefront of my mind.  My first time in Paris, about a decade ago, my sister and I had a day with nothing scheduled.  Faced with the intoxicating prospect of being agenda-less, we decided we’d pack a lunch and head into the bowels of the French capital for a day of sonic Metro adventure, having discovered that the world under our Paris feet was full of buskers – really good buskers – making use of the built-in crowds and stellar acoustics to woo us with their ready-made recitals. 

The way it worked (at least then) was that once you bought your ticket, you could travel as far and wide as you wanted, as long as you stayed within the Metro grid.  So we did just that.  We spent hours bouncing from one station to another to another.  At each stop we’d climb out, perk our ears, and head straight for any musical strains that broke through the din and echoes of the underground halls, staying as long as we wanted to listen to the station’s offerings.  That day was a smorgasbord of unforgettable melodies and harmonies and we feasted until we felt ready to explode. 

Dale Henderson gets what I’m talking about.  He’s a New York City cellist who has started Bach in the Subway, which is, in his words, “a musical activism project dedicated to bringing live classical music to those who would not otherwise hear it.”  What initially started out as a way to make some survival coin has evolved into one man’s stance against the demise of classical music by doing what he can to give people a chance to hear its raw beauty.  “I caught some fear from some other musicians that classical music is dying and in 100 years there will be no more classical music,” he explains.  “I can’t believe that’s true. I mean, it scares me to my soul if it were true.”

Refusing any donations so not to taint the listening experience, Henderson now spends parts of his days serenading the transient crowds of New York’s subway system.  He plays them the Bach Cello Suites because their “power and beauty unfailingly inspire great appreciation, joy and deep emotion in those who hear them” –  all with the goal of giving people enough of a pause in their busy days to let the music speak to them.

He’s just one man in a big city, but he’s one man making a difference.

Even Greg Sandow might find a glimmer of hope in that.  😉

For more about Dale Henderson on CNN click here.

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