A quartet of musicians casually gathered at a long, wood-slat bench placed at the base of a park monument. Although a warm June in the city, the shadow from the huge equestrian sculpture’s granite base provided the performers some cool shade.
The quartet consisted of a violinist, two cellists and a bassoon player. They dressed alike: White long sleeve shirts, white gingham pants, white socks and white canvas shoes, contrasted by black four-in-hand bowties. Their appearance was neat and uniform considered customary for classical musicians.
The violinist placed his foot next to his open violin case on the bench. He fussed with some grass and leaves stuck to his shoe. Seated about two feet away, cello out and bow rosined, the next musician sat, legs surrounding his instrument, preparing to tune it’s strings. About six feet further down the long bench sat the other cellist, slowly drawing his horse hair bow across his instrument’s wire strings, sounding long, sorrowful notes. Then sitting very close to him was the bassoonist, fumbling with wetting and shaping his double reed. He tried repeatedly to bring the long cylindrical instrument to life but only succeeded in honking like a barnyard goose, much to his frustration.
There they were, getting ready, positioning their feet, straightening their ties, brushing their shoes, turning pegs and tuning strings while the bassoonist honked sporadically performing his warm-up exercises.
“What shall we play today?” asked the first cellist.
“What ever everybody else wants to play, I don’t mind.” replied the violinist now rosining his bow.
“Well, I think we should start with Brahms today.” offered the first cellist.
HONK! “Damn.” cursed the bassoonist.
“Really. Can’t you get those reeds working?”
“Well, now after thinking about it, I think we should begin with a little Mozart. He’s so fitting for June” re-suggested the first cellist.
The second cellist continued bowing sorrowful pitches on his instrument, ignoring the suggestions of the first cellist. With head bent to the neck of his cello, directing his comment to the cement walk surrounding the monument, the second cellist spoke.
“No, I think Schubert better befits the month of June.”
“Oh really?” asked the first cellist with a slight tone of distain.
A flock of sparrows barnstormed the equestrian statue overhead. A passing senior couple holding hands momentarily lingered near a landscaped bed of tulips in hopes of maybe hearing a private concert.
The first cellist shifted his feet, putting his right foot forward and drawing his left one back, then pulled at the crotch of his gingham trousers behind his cello.
“Maybe, but on second thought, I don’t think we should play either Brahms or Schubert now. I think for the park at this time of day in front of this monument we should play Mendelssohn. That’s what I think we should start with.” He ended his suggestion by bouncing his bow staccato against his cello’s strings. The violinist tugged at the ironed crease in his pants.
“I think Mendelssohn is fine, I really don’t mind, whatever anyone else feels like playing is perfectly fine with me.”
HONK! “Damn it.” cursed the bassoonist.
“Really could you stop that embarrassing honking, really.” exclaimed the first cellist.
The second cellist bent his head closer to the scroll of his instrument and scratched his head against the top right key peg.
“You’re thinking about this all the wrong way you know. I think the first expression should be a Saint-Saens or Taneyev, that’s what I think.”
The senior couple shrugged and continued their leisurely after lunch stroll, only to be replaced by a group of strutting pigeons bobbing un-rhythmically in search of errant bread crumbs or sod grubs.
“Whoosh, such high-brow tastes. Don’t you have any consideration for the common public that just wants to hear some serene music? I think I’ll stick with my original suggestion, Brahms.” concluded the first cellist.
“Whatever everyone else wants to play.” said the violinist in support.
“If you can’t adjust that hollow log to play with some modicum of sonority, I’m afraid I can’t contribute my part.” complained the first cellist.
“In that case,” said the second cellist, “maybe we should begin with a trio, a Sibelius perchance?”
“If that’s what everyone wants.” stated the violinist adjusting his necktie.
“I don’t know how I’ve put up with you gaggle of prima-donnas this long.” huffed the first cellist.
“That’s it. I’m leaving. I’m tired of working with amateurs.”
With that declaration, the first cellist packed up his instrument, pulled off his tie and threw it on the ground before leaving the group.
“I’m sorry fellas, this reed is shot. It was the last one I had too, damn it. The music store is only twenty blocks away, I could purchase a new one and be back here in about an hour or so.” said the bassoonist apologetically.
“No, it’s alright, I guess we could just do a few impromptu duets. Some Dvorak perhaps?” The remaining cellist asked the violinist.
“Well,” began the violinist flipping his comb-over hair bang with his bow, “do you happen to know any Welsh Mining songs?”
A choir of squirrels chattered in harmony as the sun lowered a curtain on the musicians as they packed up their instruments and headed back to their homes.