I never would have anticipated that my Dover bound collection of Grieg’s Complete Lyric pieces for piano, would contain a tender morsel that hearkened back to a Spring Dance Concert presented at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. The school, known as FAME, immortalized by a long running TV series, and big screen feature, was my daily commute–I embarked on train No. 1 from W. 225th Street in the Bronx to the W. 50th Street station, landing 4 blocks north of “P.A.”
In those days, my journey was weighed down by a backpack and violin case. The extra baggage dated back to my string/piano audition. On “fiddle,” I played Mozart’s G Major violin concerto, No. 3, K.216, then sauntered over to an old tarnished Steinway grand, where I eked out Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique, Op. 13, first movement.
Without a doubt, the string shortage, was my shoo-in for admission, and it catapulted me into a first chair position in the Second violin section–that is, until I gave up the violin, in deference to my hankerings for the piano.
Before long, unpracticed, I was pushed back a few rows, behind the more polished players, though still remaining part of the orchestra that performed at the yearly Concerto Concert (Music Department) and for the Spring Dance presentation.
One particular Dance event was musically riveting. It infused Grieg’s Lyric pieces (the orchestra version–from Peer Gynt). The opener was “Shepherd Boy” from Op. 54, that resonated from the pit under Julius Grossman’s baton. The music was dark, harmonically rich, with chromaticism permeating through lush swirls of sound. Then bursts of staccato pulsations interrupted lyrically poetic outpourings.
Dancers responded, with accelerated movements, taking cues from the ebb and flow of phrases.
So having recently encountered “Shepherd Boy” within my Dover collection of Grieg’s treasures, I instantly rekindled memories of a high school that no longer sits on W. 46th St.
After a destructive fire that wreaked irrevocable damage, and with the school’s eventual relocation to the Lincoln Center area as LaGuardia High. (a fusion of P.A. and the Music and Art H.S.), there remained only a plaque in memory of the “original.”
Nevertheless, the journey down memory lane inspired by Grieg’s “Shepherd Boy” is memorialized in my tutorial that embraces early learning phase practicing infused with patience, love, and self-acceptance.
First, the orchestral version: