- Return from Brooklyn –
Hyo-shin Na – written for the Korea Times SF - 9/21/2012
I’m just back from four days in Brooklyn where my new piece for solo piano “Near and Dear” was played for the first time at Bargemusic, an old barge-turned-concert hall moored under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s usual for me to meet musicians I’ve never worked with previously at the premieres of my works, but this time the musician playing the concert happened to be my husband – so we took a trip together.
The day after the concert was a beautiful autumn day and, while walking the sunny streets, we visited the Brooklyn Historical Society. I stopped to look at an old photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and suddenly remembered the day, decades ago, when I was taking the entrance exam for the Manhattan School of Music. It was the second of two days of tests on a variety of subjects and there were instructions for a piece I was required to write overnight.
The instructions read: “Compose a piece based on impressions made by the 100-year-old Brooklyn Bridge on a poet, a photographer and a choreographer.” I’d arrived in New York City only four days previously, just in time to take the entrance exam, and had no idea that the bridge was 100 years old, much less where it was or what it looked like! But I hurried home to compose and, the next morning, back at school standing in front of the assembled professors, I spread out my carefully copied piece for them to examine – and, in the most elaborate, detailed manner possible, explained how the structure and appearance of the bridge was mirrored in my piece of music. When I’d finished, one of the professors asked “How long have you lived in New York City?” I answered “Five days”. “Have you seen the Brooklyn Bridge?” “No…”
Almost thirty years after that experience, in a concert hall at the foot of this famous Brooklyn Bridge, I met many listeners who told me how much they’d just enjoyed hearing a new piece of mine. I couldn’t repress a smile, remembering a young woman’s attempts to talk about a bridge she’d never even seen.