On Saturday we head down through Park Morskie Oko to the pond with the fountain for part of the summer promenades. Each week there is an hour of music: each week a different style: each week free. And this one, klezmer music, is the second last one of the season. How do we miss these things right on our doorstep?
The stage is set. A red curtain twisted around poles amongst the trees. Loudspeakers at the ready. A sprinkling of collapsible chairs. The players standing around talking. Debate about whether they were packing up or waiting to perform. Rugs spread on the ground with toys for kids: giant building blocks, noodles, a crawling tube. A pair of minute portable soccer goals and a volley ball net. A face painter with brushes laid out. A tiny audience.
At five to eleven there is an announcement. I can’t say I understand it but I know what it means, and I must have plucked out the word for five at least.
The music begins: violin, accordion, clarinet, tambourine and double bass. It’s foot-tapping music, human voice music, and the instruments do things I haven’t heard them do before. For most of the hour I have an unimpeded view, but slowly more people arrive and I lose the visuals that are so important to my pleasure in music.
So my eye passes over the audience. Mainly older people and young families. Kids engage in a robust exchange of noodle blows. A hyperactive dad juggles with cones and plastic skittles and balances a noodle on his foot. A mum squats beside a toddler collecting pebbles, moving to the music. A man sits on the rug nonchalantly with a toy tortoise perched on his shoulder. The woman in front of me, probably in her eighties, jigs rhythmically on her chair.
The music continues, rising to a frenzy, falling to gentleness. A passing dog objects to a passing cyclist and adds his frenzy of yaps.
And then the performance ends. We insist on two encores, one of which is, of course, If I were a rich man. As she leaves, the old woman and her companion smile widely at us and say “Do widzenia.”
That was Saturday. On Sunday at 12 we join a couple of thousand other people at the base of Chopin’s statue for Chopin in the park, another free musical offering of Warsaw summer.