'Moment of joy': live music in an empty New York storefront

Roselle Chen
·2-min read

By Roselle Chen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Live music from a violin and bass wafts from a New York City street corner, drawing passersby on a cold February day.

With an empty storefront as a stage, musicians are working their magic again, amplified by sound systems outdoors, in the city whose concert halls have been silenced by the pandemic.

"It's refreshing," passerby Richie Clarke said. "Just being out here and hearing it, it reminds me of the magic of New York that you know is always there, but this is sort of like, lighting it up again."

That "moment of joy in their day" is what Kate Sheeran, executive director of Kaufman Music Center, hopes to bring audiences through its pop-up concert series called Musical Storefronts.

Over 100 chamber musicians to Broadway stars will perform 60 shows through mid-March, funded through the Alphadyne Foundation, which employs artists whose live gigs have been canceled due to the pandemic. To ensure social distancing, shows at the Upper West Side neighborhood storefront are announced only on the same day.

"One of the things that's the best about music is that it helps us build community and have communal experiences, and it's why, among the reasons we've been missing it so much," Sheeran said.

"I think we've been starved for this kind of art and this kind of connection, and it's beautiful to see it here every day."

Live music can help bystanders "reflect" and give them "a break in the day," said Jessie Montgomery, who plays violin in classical music duo Big Dog Little Dog.

"It sucks you right into the present, no matter where you are, and that's what I'm hoping to do for people when they're walking by," added Eleonore Oppenheim, the bassist in the duo.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker)