How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

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November 20, 2007
By Posted in musical saw | 7 Comments »

There is a well-known joke in which the absent-minded maestro violinist Jascha Heifetz was racing up New York’s Seventh Avenue to a rehearsal, when a stranger stopped him. “Pardon me”, he said, “can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”. “Yes”, answered the maestro breathlessly, “Practice, practice, practice!”

Well, I have my own answer to this famous question:
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Via the subway!”
I have been playing the musical saw in the NYC subway for about 12 years. Last Sunday the subway brought me to Carnegie Hall, where I was a featured soloist in a concert titled ‘A Celebration of Life’.
Accompanied by pianist Margrit Zimmermann, prizewinner in the 1996 ‘International Johannes Brahms Piano Competition’ in Austria and the ‘Roma International Piano Competition’ 1997 in Italy, I performed solos by J.S. Bach and by Saint Saens.

Carnegie Hall concert
Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz, Margrit Zimmermann, Scott Munson on stage at Carnegie Hall

The centerpiece of the concert was a world premier of a composition by composer Scott R. Munson, ‘The Undeterred’ for piano (Dong Gyun Ham), musical saw (me) and baritone (Byung Woo Kim), a setting of a poem by the same name by Vivian Schulte.
The poet’s granddaughter, Peggy, said that when she turned around to look at the audience (in order to see their reaction to my playing), everybody’s expression was that of awe and astonishment.
In the audience were also people who have been following my career since my first performances on the musical saw.

Carnegie Hall concert
Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz, Scott Munson, Dong Gyun Ham, Byung Woo Kim back-stage at Carnegie Hall

Denis O’Connell, who has been the stage manager at Carnegie Hall for the past 31 years, said he has never seen the musical saw featured at Carnegie Hall before. My performance might be a Carnegie Hall first for this instrument as a featured soloist (as opposed to the musical saw just as a member of an orchestra).

Carnegie Hall

After the concert there was a nice reception, with waiters whizzing by carrying trays of orderves, and an open bar. Carnegie Hall is very fancy, with golden decorations on the walls and velvet curtains. I received a nice ovation of applause and many compliments afterwards. It was fun, but none-the-less – I am still looking forward to playing in the subway again, and again, and again!
If I hadn’t been playing in the subway I wouldn’t have become as proficient on the musical saw as I got to be. I know it is thanks to the encouragement and enthusiasm of people who see me performing in the subway that I am where I am today. I am now supposed to start getting ready for my concert with the Riverside Symphony Orchestra. But in between my fancy gigs you will always be able to find me playing in the NYC subway.

NYC subway entrance


7 Responses to How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

  1. Sera on November 21, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    A common misconception about busking musicians that I’ve gotten to see in action about 500 million times in Boston is that they are playing in order to gain exposure, that they prefer exposure to actually being able to make their living, and that once they are sufficiently exposed to start working gigs, they’ll stop busking forever.

    To have you so clearly state that between gigs you plan to keep busking for busking’s sake makes you a hero and I hope *everybody* is taking note.

  2. Shirl on November 21, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Love your new blog.

    The curious sides to life

    How wonderful

    Love Shirl

  3. Michael on November 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Hi there Natalia,

    Thank you for the nice comment! I LOVED reading your blog!!!!! Glad to hear that Carnegie hall had the pleasure of having you perform solo the other night. I do hope to have the pleasure of seeing you perform at some point. I’ll let you know when I plan on making it back east.

    All the best,


  4. John on November 21, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    I read your blog, Natalia. Carnegie Hall is cool, indeed. But I must say, it so brightens my day to think of you in the subway, committed and loving it. Your music is marvelous and you are marvelouser. – John

  5. Chris on November 21, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Bravo, Natalia! I’m glad you’re getting the recognition you deserve!


  6. Mr. Da'vid Saviour on November 23, 2007 at 7:29 am

    Glad 2C & Hear Yu Acheifing Your Goal(s) Natalia ::

    I Haven’t Been Booked @Carnegie In Years ::

    I AlWays Said I’d Get Booked aGain ::

    Yet Yu Went & RePreSented : I Share In Your eXperince :)

    Goddup & Give ThanX ::

  7. Nonosse on November 30, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    The complete answer is a combination of the two answers : Practice, practice, practice, then try the subway :o)
    Anyway, your way is not such a common way.

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