Pianist performing Bach for 5+ hours a day for 37 days
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Inside a 5,000-square-foot, otherwise empty, white-walled space at 56th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, a piano plays itself all night long. But for five hours every afternoon into the evening from the beginning of November through Dec. 7, the 32-year-old classical pianist Evan Shinners takes over for the digital player piano and performs the works of J.S. Bach for any who wish to stop, sit and listen.
"It's a bad idea," Shinners said.
Shinners spoke of the physical impact playing before an audience from noon to 5:30 p.m. every day for 37 days in a row exacts on his body.
"I'm terribly sore," he said. "I'm fatigued."
Shinners received a grant from the Music Academy of the West for this popup he calls The Bach Store, inspired by his habit of practicing his craft by windows to establish a community.
"I thought if I could do that on a broader scale," he said.
Unlike a concert hall full of paying, ticket-holding patrons of music, Shinners' popup allows him to play before anyone who stumbles in through the space's open door from the street outside.
"Well, I had one guy almost break through the glass he was pounding so hard on it," he said.
Fox 5, perhaps foolishly, followed up on that anecdote by asking Shinners if disruptions like that one distracted him from his playing.
"Does it distract me?" Shinners responded. "I chased him with a bullhorn."
But in addition to the disrespectful and unappreciative, Shinners has also encountered some others more familiar with Bach than even he — a professional pianist who's dedicated his working life to the German composer's works.
"I had one person ask me to play 'The Messiah' and then, on the other hand, I had one person who asked me about the source tradition of The English Suites, which demonstrated such an expertise," Shinners said.
After Shinners finishes his five hours of recital, at around 6:15 p.m. guest musicians play concerts (of mostly Bach) in his place. When they finish, the piano plays itself (again Bach) for Internet viewers to enjoy until Shinners resumes playing (Bach) at noon the following day.
"It's not good for the arms," he said. "I don't know if it's good for the soul or the mind either."
And yet — after allowing his arms, soul and mind a long rest after this popup finishes — Shinners hopes to raise the funds to do it again.
"I mean, this is like every musician's dream, right?" He said. "To be able to play for five hours a day and have people tell you how much they appreciate it."