On a recent warm and sunny Wednesday evening, a friend and I rode the subway to Bryant Park in Manhattan to see what “Accordions Around the World” was all about. For those that are not familiar with this small but lovely urban oasis, Bryant Park is situated in the middle of noisy, crowded Midtown Manhattan. It is improbably close to Times Square- that tourist mecca being only a five minute walk away. The park is charming nevertheless and in the warmer months buzzes with activity to entertain, motivate and re-energize New Yorkers.
On this evening, we observed men playing chess, an outdoor reading corner, cafe tables of coffee sippers and happy hour revellers. Amidst all of this, we the found musicians, accordions in hand, modestly entertaining whomever passed by from their folding chairs. They played accordions of varying sizes, shapes, colors and national origins. The music ranged from the expected fare, vaguely French or Bavarian, to classic tango (played on an accordion, not a bandoneon, although there was to be a bandoneon in the park later in the evening), to early 20th Century popular tunes and ragtime, Colombian folk music and wistful Balkan tunes. At one station, a violinist joined in to great effect.
My friend and I were not disappointed as we wound our way around the perimeter of the park, on a sort of Easter-egg hunt for accordionists. We easily wafted from one continent to another on the air of the music, enjoying this free entertainment under the shade of lovely green trees, in the heart of Manhattan.
Here are some images and sounds from Accordians Around the World on July 1st. For more on this program that takes place on Wednesdays in July and August, see:
The roster of accordionists on this particular day was:
Rob Curto – Brazilian Bluegrass
Jenny Luna – Balkan + Turkish
Erica Mancini – American Roots + Standards
Seaninho do Acordeon – Brazilian Forró
Uri Sharlin – World
Papa Bavarian – German Oktoberfest
Brooke Watkins – French Musette
Sadys Rodrigo Espitia – Colombian Cumbia + Vallenato
David Hodges – Bandoneon: Argentine Tango
Fabio Turchetti – Italian Folk