Nov 21 2013
I love classical music and often whistle the tunes, especially when I’m happy. Last Saturday afternoon was one of those days.
The weather was warm and overcast as I walked up Nine Mile Run from Duck Hollow to Frick Park. I was hoping to find a fox sparrow — no luck — but was pleased to see a beautiful male American kestrel and a flock of 40 robins. I found only three song sparrows on my way north.
When I reached the hillside grassland on my way back I remembered the Adagio from Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and started whistling the piano solo.
Suddenly song sparrows came out of the underbrush. They flew through the weeds making little “bep” calls. I stopped walking and continued whistling. The sparrows kept coming, flying into the weed tufts. “Bep bep bep.”
I was making good progress through the piano solo though a little squeaky on the high notes because the piano has a wide range and I do not. Pretty soon seven song sparrows were perched on a sapling in front of me, five more on the weeds nearby and several more flying in to join them. This was in an area where I’d seen no sparrows on my way north.
At their peak I counted 15. The sparrows insisted on perching in front of me. All of them made warning calls. They seemed to be saying “Shut up!”
Perhaps they’d heard this good performance of the second movement and knew I was murdering the solo that begins at 1:20 in the video below.
I thought I did pretty well with a complex piece but I drove the sparrows wild!
(photo of a song sparrow by Bobby Greene.
music by Derek Han, Piano, Israel Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Gunzenhauser. Adagio from Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 40, Felix Mendelssohn)