My friend Kim texted me on Tuesday afternoon asking if I wanted to go to the opening gala of Carnegie Hall on Wednesday. Umm, yeah! Her mom had unfortunately come down with the flu, and she blessed me with her extra ticket.“Do you have a tux or a black suit?” she asked. “No, but how about black suit with blue pinstripes?” At first she said okay, but half an hour later she texted me saying I’d probably feel out of place without a tux. I’m glad she did, because she was right. So right before they closed on Tuesday, I ran down to Ted’s Formal Wear on Orchard to rent a tux. You’d never guess they rent tuxes, because most of the store is dedicated to rocker t-shirts, but I was able to get one off the rack without alteration for a good price. Too good in fact. Wednesday night I put it on and jumped into a cab to Carnegie Hall, and I look down and I realize the zipper is broken! Fortunately there was a Duane Reade down the block from the hall and I bought some safety pins to fix it up, but I never unbuttoned my jacket the whole night. Despite the wardrobe malfunction, it was fun to be in a tux. It’d been about ten years since I wore one at my friend Dave’s wedding. Here’s a photo of Luca, Kim, Matt, and I, all decked out.
The evening started off with a cocktail reception, and I went with martinis, despite the lack of martini glasses. Everyone was dressed to the nines, and it was quite a scene. Barbara Walters, who I would never have recognized, and Tony Bennett were there.
The concert began at 7 and featured the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The first half of the concert was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15, featuring the Chinese pianist Lang Lang. We had superb box seats with a perfect view of Lang Lang’s hands on the piano.
There’s no denying his technical brilliance, and I was mesmerized watching him play. At the end of the concerto and a round of applause, he came back for a solo encore. I don’t know what he played, but it was a very energetic piece that showcased his skills. His hands moved like lightning, whipping back and forth and over each other, and it was truly stunning to watch. He well deserved the standing ovation he got.
The second half of the concert was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92. Even without Lang Lang playing in the symphony, the music was again captivating. The Vienna Philharmonic was incredibly precise, the sound was clean, and Harnoncourt was a pleasure to watch himself. He’s a very dynamic presence, and every now and then he’d even jump up and down. It was one of the best classical concerts I’ve ever seen.
From there, we got on a shuttle bus to the gala dinner at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. Talk about stunning!
I thought the people at the reception looked good. There were even more at the dinner, and they looked even better in the lovely art deco ballroom. Henry Kissinger was there too. To me, he beats any actor or media celebrity. I was impressed.
Add in the live orchestra that played during the dinner, and it was an incredible conclusion to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Although the food was just okay :).
Kim, I’m forever in your debt!