Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Morningside Lights - A Fun Night in New York

Let's start with the pun: The event is called "Morningside Lights," and it truly is a festival of lights.

Why a pun? Because the event was organized at Columbia University, which is located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood in New York City.

With that out of the way (for our non-New York readers), let me tell you about this delightful evening last Saturday, September 29. The program was put together by the Arts Initiative at Columbia University and the University's Miller Theatre ("the leading presenter of new music in New York City"), working in collaboration with the Friends of Morningside Park.

Designed as a procession, the "happening" (I guess you might call it - if anyone uses that old-fashioned term today!) was inspired by the theme "The Imagined City." The idea was to explore concepts of urban planning and development in one of New York's most diverse neighborhoods, at the intersection of Harlem, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side. Obviously a great idea, especially when we think about how the neighborhood is now far different than that which Olmsted and Vaux (the designers of New York's Central Park) must have had in mind when they designed Morningside Park in 1873.

With leadership from artists from Professional Arts Workshop (PAW) - a New York-based partnership whose creations lead the city's annual Halloween Parade - participants were able to build large-scale illuminated structures during the week before the event.

We had a beautiful night for the procession, and although there were a few clouds, they did not dampen anyone's enthusiasm (as you can see from Andrew Berner's photos - go here to see them). The procession started at a little after 8.00 pm, allowing enough time for darkness to fall, and wound its way through Morningside Park and then up to the main part of the campus. I think the creativity of all the people involved is pretty evident from the different styles and types of lights they designed. It was great fun to join in the procession and walk along, sometimes beside the lights, sometimes behind them. Of course as the procession passed between Butler Library and Low Library, those of us with library connections couldn't resist taking photos of those buildings in the night light.

Quite an evening in New York's Upper West Side.