It rained for most of Wednesday evening, but that didn't stop a group of friends from the orchestra from playing on a Manhattan street for a marriage proposal. Michael, one of my friends in the 2nd violin section, enlisted some of us to play Pachelbel's canon outside their apartment as a surprise for his girlfriend Fiona on their anniversary. He gave us the music last week and we planned a quick rehearsal on Monday night and organized flowers and candles. He didn't have a viola part for me, so I played the bass line instead, and the violinists played their parts as the canon. We worked out the musical details at Monday's rehearsal, so the only questions were where we'd stand and how we'd handle the threat of rain.
When we got to 82nd St. last night at 8:45, the rain had stopped. We considered setting up right in front of their building, but there was no shelter there. Instead, we went with the original plan, which was to set up across the street from their apartment building under some scaffolding. We laid out flowers and set up clusters of votive candles. About five minutes before we expected them to walk by, the skies opened up with a downpour. It only lasted a few minutes, but we were glad we'd chosen the shelter of the scaffolding. Then a police car went by, so we all tried to look casual. At 9:15, our lookout flashed a light at us from down the street to let us know Michael and Fiona were coming. We started playing as they came up the street. At first, they crossed the street to get away from us (she thought we were there for someone else) but Michael pulled her back to our side. They came up to us, we stopped playing, he got down on one knee and proposed, and she said yes. It was a successful performance.
Here's a photo of the ensemble, plus some friends and the happy couple.
Congratulations, Michael and Fiona!