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STAND BACK!

“STAND BACK!” the young man in a black uniform shouted at me.

Our first #celloeverywhere photos didn’t show any interaction with people. Of course, this is New York, and it’s not really surprising to anyone that there’s some guy playing an instrument on the street. Even a sleek and shiny carbon fiber cello.

But I really wanted to play for people.

We headed up to Central Park, and at Columbus Circle we noticed these counter-terrorism guys.

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They looked like they could use some Bach. Why not?

So I walked up and got a little too close and the guy on the right was quite assertive with me. “Stand back!” he shouted at me.

“No problem,” I was quick to reply as I very quickly moved away. “Can I play some music for you guys?”

“Sure.”

“Can I sit over here? I really do not want to invade your personal space.”

That was alright. As was taking photos. So I played the first three movements of the Bach G Major suite for them.

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They didn’t look over at me, but pretty clearly they had other things to be looking at or for. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t even a smile (I found one later in one of the other photos).

When I was done, the guy who had yelled at me asked Mr. Photographer if they could get a copy of the pictures. They did like it! So we gave him a flyer with the Twitter and Instagram hashtag, Facebook address, etc. (If you’ve found this, guys, thanks–it was fun to play for you. And thanks for doing your jobs.)

A man who was trying to sell people tour packages had been listening, too, walking over and smiling. (Another job I’m glad someone else is doing.) “What was that?” he asked. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major, I told him. I assumed he’d say he’d heard Yo-Yo Ma’s recording. Nope. “Sounded kind of like Vivaldi to me,” he said. We gave him a flyer.

“Sounded kind of like Vivaldi to me,” he said. We gave him a flyer.

This couple had listened for quite a while. They came over to thank me and we took a photo together. He’s visiting from Europe, she lives in D.C. “That was so beautiful,” they said. “It made our day.”

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Later on, the counter-terrorism guys were putting their gear into an SUV. There was banter going on, just like any group of people getting off work. It was clear how wonderfully ordinary and human they are. Fearsome and a bit (or a lot) afraid, doing their jobs and then blowing off a bit of steam. I almost asked if I could get a photo with them. But one was still holding his big gun, and I’d already gotten too close once.