“Soundwalk” debuts in Central Park

Laren Reesman, Staff writer

Central Park just got an upgrade, to the delight of walkers and picnickers living in New York.

An app called “Soundwalk” allows the beautiful music of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to flourish throughout the park, and anyone with the app can listen as they waltz their way through the various pieces dependent on what “cell” of the park you are in.

Accompanying the orchestra are two other New York groups—the Young People’s Chorus and the jazz band Poole and the Gang.

There is a mixture of old and new compositions, from Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” to “New York, New York.”

Then the trucks pull up. Well, more of a Bandwagon. It traverses the city at all hours of the day, searching for the perfect spot to set up a pop-up concert.

The orchestra managed to add an element of mystery to a locked down city by announcing what pieces and musicians will play each week, but not disclosing a location. The pickup simply appears on a curbside one day and invites anyone in the area to watch and listen.

The New York Philharmonic Orchestra created an atmosphere that not only keeps its presence relevant during this time but might even lend to a revival of the classical music genre.

The resources needed to start a program like “Soundwalk” are expensive and time-consuming. Smaller communities such as Erie could not garner the support for such a project, even with the help of local music groups and universities.

Limitations on social gatherings and visitations to certain locations would also be an obstacle, as Erie does not have a public space as large as Central Park.

The performing arts faculty at Mercyhurst University is “well overextended” trying to provide necessary opportunities for their students according to Jonathan Moser, the director of the Civic Orchestra at Mercyhurst.

The orchestra, which combines community members and Mercyhurst student musicians, was canceled for the fall semester. Mr. Moser noted how eager Erie musicians are to restart rehearsals and concerts in the spring.

Even if the music department does not generate physical audiences this fall, several opportunities exist to “attend” concerts and recitals.

On Sept. 27, Mercyhurst had its first ever livestream recital. Subsequent livestreams will follow including small ensembles, the Civic Orchestra (strings only) and the Faculty Recital Series on Oct. 7 and 21 and Nov. 11.

The pandemic affected music and performance more than other arts. Moser works as the Erie Junior Philharmonic artistic director, the Erie Philharmonic principal second violin, the Presque Isle ProMusica music director, the Philadelphia International Music Festival Orchestra program director and instrument repairman, and says “every single one of these has almost entirely disappeared.”

With the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual budget of $87 million, they fly solo in the face of preserving musical and performing arts culture, especially classical music. However, they don’t hope to achieve this goal without dedicated students, teachers, and audiences. Give the livestreams a listen and enjoy