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New York Daily Photo: Free Lunch
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Monday, 25 February 2008

Free Lunch

We all know very well the aphorisms, There's No Free Lunch or You Get What You Pay For. The real subtext is, of course, that better always costs more and anything of value at least costs something. Which is not always true. I shop at B&H Photo, e.g., where one gets the best pricing, good service, a knowledgeable staff and a great return policy. Of course, there is also the popular adage: The Best Things in Life are Free. Much of this comes down to one's definition of value, better, best, things, payment and even free, but I digress...
Some of the real secrets of a city are the things that are free for two reasons: 1) Since people believe that the best costs more and the worthwhile costs something, the free is often dismissed or overlooked. 2) There's no money in marketing, promoting or brokering the free. So free, quality activities can slip in under the radar.
Like concerts at music conservatories in NYC.
We have some of the best music schools in the world here in Manhattan - Juilliard School, Manhattan School, Mannes School and they all offer free concerts - hundreds of them per year in nice theaters and recital rooms. And although they are performed by those who are "only students", these are TOP students and many will soon be performing at a theater near you for money.
The photo is of the Manhattan School of Music, founded in 1917, at 122nd St and Claremont Avenue, on the very upper westside in Morningside Heights near Columbia University.
If you want a taste of the inner workings of conservatory life, I would suggest you attend a Master Class. These are free and are also scheduled. In a master class, a student works on a piece of music with an instructor (frequently a well known performer) in front of an audience of peers. Often, the public is allowed. Their playing is critiqued, suggestions and demonstrations are made and the piece replayed by the student. I once saw Yo-Yo Ma give a master class in Cello (wonderful) and Josef Gingold give one in violin. Gingold was considered one of the greatest violin teachers in history - it was an honor and amazing to see him work with a student. It was quite a free lunch.


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