Experience in New York

2007-02-18 / Angela’s archive / Angela Hewitt

On the afternoon of my début at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (a wonderful place to play), I finished my rehearsal at 4:15 p.m. feeling really good. I had a beautiful Fazioli to play, and things were going well. The concert wasn’t until 8 p.m., so I had ample time to return to my hotel near Carnegie Hall for my pre-concert routine of eating, dressing, doing my hair, make-up, ironing my dress—all of that stuff. Then everything started to go wrong. I went outside the Museum to get a taxi and stood there for 20 minutes waiting in sub-zero temperatures with a biting wind. There were absolutely no free cabs in sight, and anyway the traffic was completely blocked and not moving at all. I had agreed with another lady standing there that we would share, but she finally gave up and went back inside the museum as she was too cold to wait any longer. I didn’t know what to do, and by that time I was also completely frozen and couldn’t move my fingers. I walked down a street and ended up waiting another 15 minutes for a bus which at least took me across Central Park to 81st St. It was jammed packed, and I was lucky to get on. Then I got the subway to Colombus Circle, after which I still had a short walk. It took me an hour and a quarter to get back to my hotel, when it should have taken 15 minutes.. Then I had only an hour to get ready when usually I allow double that. It was such a rush. First I had to get into a very hot bath to “defrost”!! I threw some rice into the microwave and ate some chicken I had picked up walking home. Then at 6:45 I had got myself together, ready to return, but couldn’t find a taxi again (I had phoned some friends to see if they could drive me, but they weren’t taking their car). So I walked 5 blocks along the snowy sidewalks, dragging my suitcase, to get the subway at Lexington and 59th. Then the ticket machines weren’t working. I asked the staff what to do (they wouldn’t sell tickets at the counter). They said to walk up to 60th Street—I said “Look, I have a performance to give..!” They looked at me (with my hair done, and fancy earrings!) and one of them said “Let her pass”. So I ran onto the train, only to discover that it was going in the wrong direction! At 51st Street I then had to get out, go up to the street (all this time carrying my suitcase up the steps in the slush), cross over, finally buy a ticket, and go in the right direction up to 86th Street. Then I still had to walk more, finally getting a taxi for the last 3 blocks. It was just awful. And the streets were full of snow and dirty and really a mess (left over from a bad storm the day before—New York needs some Canadian snowploughs!). I arrived almost in tears (although warm because of walking). So that wasn’t really the best thing to happen before playing such an important concert. And then the freezing stage…. I’ve never been so cold in my life onstage. There was this terrible draught blowing cold air at me the whole time. The Museum staff said they’ve had engineers in to figure out why but so far they can’t discover the reason. And of course I had on that red dress that wasn’t the warmest, but normally I get very hot when playing. I was freezing until the very end of the concert, even with those millions of notes.