Years ago, as I was falling asleep rather early one night, I became vaguely awareof the music playing.I arose anddiscovered the beautiful sound of Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Swan” streaming through my second-floor Bleecker Street window. Expecting a passing car’s radio, I looked out and saw instead, on the southeast corner of Bleecker and Charles Streets, a man playing a cello.
Over the following years, I saw Peter Lewyregularly on West Village corners entertaining crowds of passers-by – locals and tourists alike. We know each other’s first namesand often call out from across the street or as I drive by, “Hi Peter!” “Hi Armanda!” He knows the local dogs’ and kids’ names too. Many stop to listen or offer a request.
I asked Peter why he does this and simply put, he replied, “I love doing it. I teach and play professionally, but I love the contact and the variety of who walks by.” He has been serenading us for more than 15 years in various neighborhoods. Most recently, he has been playingin Washington Square under the arch – “the acoustics are amazing, there’s no other place like that in the City,” says Peter. “In the summers, I like to play in Italy, in the centers of the old cities. Often, cars are not permitted and there too and the acoustics are wonderful.”
When he’s not playing in the West Village, Peter is principal cellist of the Bronx Symphony and Regina Opera Orchestras, in addition to beinga member of different chamber music groups. He has also just released a second CD, “Some Other Way” presenting his own compositions; he both plays and sings. “I’m very proud of this CD and people seem to take to it,” he says. His first CD, “Now and Then,” features the music of Bach and his compositions, all instrumental.
“I’m happy with my life,” says Peter. Having achieved a comfortable level of success, he likes to make his own music on a small and personal level. “To actually meet the people who hear my music, at that immediate moment, to talk with them as I play and have that personal contact –that is so rare,” he says, “and so gratifying.”
Peter is also a runner, having run the New York Marathon these past three years and will again this year.
Since first hearing his music, I listen for him in the neighborhood and on the rare occasion that I retire early, sometimes fall asleep to Peter Lewy playing under my window.
Armanda Squadrilli is SVP and senior broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman residential real estate. She is a 20-year resident of the West Village, and writes on a variety of topics, including dogs, her 350 Bleecker resident community, the West Village, and motorcycling. She is usually accompanied by “Friday,” her smiling, three-legged, Australian Cattle Dog.