B.P.C. Beat

BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Covering Battery Park City

Valentine Workshop:

The B.P.C. Parks Conservancy’s conference room was jammed on Saturday as 120 people transformed construction paper, doilies, colored beads and dried flowers into tokens of their affection.

“I love my mom because she is the best in the world,” a girl wrote in red Magic Marker on pink paper. “I know you’re always there for me.”

“It’s Valentine’s Day and everything’s red,” another girl wrote — the start of a verse about the “redness” of it all, ending with “red, red everything, red except me” — then she changed to blue ink to write, “I’m blue because I didn’t get a valentine from you.”

The Conservancy’s Valentine Workshop started in 1999. Its founder, Abby Ehrlich, director of Parks Programming for the Conservancy, noted that there had been a different theme each year.

“One year the theme was the “Book of Love,” said Ehrlich. “We made small valentine books with guest book artists from a small press in Tribeca. Another year we had a Valentine Tea. We drank tea and sewed sachets with tea, herbs and dried flowers.”

This year the theme was “Green Valentines,” all of which were made with recycled materials.

“Many people followed our suggestion and brought in their own photographs and small mementos – ticket stubs, match book covers — to include in their ‘Tiny Treasures,’ the project’s sub-theme,” said Ehrlich.

Battery Park City resident Jeff Mihok and his daughter Lola sucked on red, heart-shaped lollipops as they made a valentine for someone whose name they refused to disclose so as not to ruin the surprise.

George Calderaro, who also lives in B.P.C., made valentines for the people who had sent him Christmas cards. “I didn’t get around to sending cards at Christmas or New Year’s,” he said, “so I’m sending valentines now to make up for it.”

There were valentines for best friends, valentines for moms and dads and a valentine made by Miani Jean-Charles for her student teacher, Ms. Greenberg, who had recently completed her student teaching at the young girl’s school. “I miss her so much,” said Jean-Charles.

Jean-Charles attended the workshop with a group from St. Catherine of Genoa Church on West 153rd Street.

Carnegie Hall Recital:

On February 5, the elegant, ivory-and-gold jewel box at Carnegie Hall known as Weill Recital Hall played host to 28 young musicians from the Tri-state area who had earned Certificates of Excellence from The Royal Conservatory, a music accreditation program based in Toronto, Canada. Each performed a short piece and received an award. Among the certificate recipients was B.P.C.‘s own Sarah Yoon, 11, who scored the top mark in New York State for her Grade 7 piano examination.

This was the third time that Yoon had played at Weill Recital Hall, and her fourth award from The Royal Conservatory. Nevertheless, she said she felt nervous at first and then “focused more on the music.”

Yoon and her twin sister, Stephanie, have been taking piano lessons since they were five years old. The girls said that it had been their mother’s idea that they take piano lessons. “Music should be a part of everybody’s lives and piano is a great way to learn music,” said Michelle Yoon. “It’s a basic necessity. I studied music for a few years when I was growing up and then I gave up. Later, I blamed my parents.”

There will be no giving up for the twins. “When it’s close to the exam, the girls practice two hours a day,” said Michelle, “but before that, it’s like an hour — hopefully three times a week.”

Judy Woo, who has been the girls’ only piano teacher, said that this year both Sarah and Stephanie have been playing Bach inventions, plus sonatinas, modern pieces and technical studies.

Woo explained that The Royal Conservatory exam system was originally British “and many of the colonies had used the same system, so a lot of the parents and grandparents of the kids who played today had gone through the system.” Woo, who grew up in Vancouver, Canada, went through The Royal Conservatory system herself. “When I started teaching here in New York, I couldn’t find teaching materials that I liked,” she said, “so I brought these books over from Canada. Soon after, they started the system here.”

To earn a certificate, said Woo, “students are marked on three contrasting pieces from different periods, two studies, technique, ear training and sight reading. The whole idea is that you become a well-rounded musician, playing from different eras and being able to read music.” The students are also tested on theory.

Both girls are students at the Anderson School, a public school for gifted and talented students on West 77th Street. Asked if she wanted to be a professional musician when she was older, Sarah said she wasn’t yet sure.

“I’m only 11!”

Poetry Classes:

Poets House in B.P.C. is offering poetry-writing classes for experienced poets as well as for beginners. A series of two-day master classes over the next few months are for writers who are not new to poetry writing. Applications are required so that the teacher can choose the best writers for the class. The next master class will be on March 5 and 6 with Kevin Young, author of seven volumes of poetry and editor of “The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing.” Applications for this class are due by February 11. The fee for the class is $375. To apply, send three poems accompanied by a cover sheet with your name, address, e-mail address and phone number to ATTN: Classes, Poets House, 10 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282 or send an e-mail to classes@poetshouse.org. No names or addresses should appear on the poems themselves.

In addition to the Master Classes, Poets House is offering six-week Open Enrollment classes for which there is no application. There are three upcoming sessions. A workshop with Priscilla Becker focuses on in-class writing (February 22-March 29); Christopher Schmidt teaches “Writing Between the Lines” (February 23-March 30) and Jill Magi teaches “Text, Image, Theme & Between” (February 24-March 31). Open Enrollment classes cost $295. For more information or to enroll call (212) 431-7920 or go to www.poetshouse.org.

To comment on B.P.C. Beat or to suggest story ideas, e-mail TereseLoeb@mac.com