The Underground Concert

eastwind journals – June 4, 2021

By Bernie V. Lopez,

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(This story was inspired by an anonymous Internet article.)

Ivan, a Croatian cellist with long hair and shabby clothes, drags a cumbersome cello to a busy New York City subway station and starts playing. People rush in and out ignoring him.

He plays at the same station every day, ignored all the time. One day, Vladi, a 12-year-old boy and his mother, watch him from across the other side of the track. Vladi waves a hand. Ivan waves back.

Vladi runs to Ivan at the other side of the track without his mother. He listens in silence, as Ivan plays on. The cello ‘weeps’ in a haunting love song. The cello being a powerful instrument, can fill the cavernous subway station from end to end, even without any microphone.

VLADI – (After the tune ended.) Wow. Nocturne, by Borodin.

IVAN – (Surprised.) Hey, you know the tune.

VLADI – My mom is a music teacher. She plays classical everyday at home until it’s oozing out of my ears.

IVAN – Do you know Meditation from Thais.

VLADI – By Massenet. Love it. I see myself in the beach, walking alone at sunset.

Ivan plays Massenet. The cello groans and moans. Vladi starts to weep. For one hour, the cellist does a solo concert for the boy.

VLADI – Ooops. I gotta go. Mom’s waiting. See you tomorrow.

Next day, Vladi brings a portable chair. Everyday, Ivan plays for him for an hour. A few times, an old man or a young girl would linger for a few seconds. So Vladi has an idea. He brings a hat the next day and starts getting coins from passengers, who are polite enough to give even though they do not listen. Before he leaves, he opens the cello case, and pours about two kilos of coins in. Every day, that is this ritual of hat and cello case.

VLADI – I told Mom I want cello lessons. Will you teach me?

IVAN – How can I say no?

VLADI – (Coming the next day with his own cello.) I’m ready for the lessons.

IVAN – (Inspecting Vladi’s cello.) Hey, this is pretty good, the expensive kind.

VLADI – Mom is filthy rich. She wants me to play in a symphony someday.

So, right there in the subway, he has his lessons. For the next few months, he is learning fast. Regular passengers still ignore the impromptu music school, but they drop a coin when Vladi waves at them.

IVAN – (Handing Vladi a brand new bow.) I brought you a gift. Your bow is no good, a cheap kind that is not worthy of your first-class cello. Try this one out.

VLADI – (Trying it out.) Wow. Makes a lot of difference. This must be expensive.

IVAN – I gathered all the coins we had to buy it.

VLADI – I’ll pay you back. As I said, Mom is rich.

IVAN – Nah, no need. I am rich too. (They both laugh.)

VLADI – (With his Mom the next day.) Mom, meet Ivan.

MOM – (Utterly shocked.) Hey, I know you. You’re that famous cellist. What’s your name?

IVAN – Rovodov, Mom. You’re son learns so fast. He is now ready to play in public.

MOM – Vladi, you have the best cellist in the whole of Europe as your personal teacher.

IVAN – (Handing her two concert tickets). I have something for you, Mom.

MOM – Tickets for your solo concert. Wow. Front row seats. Full symphony orchestra backup. Wow.

VLADI – Very expensive seats, Mom. Thanks, prof. (He offers a give-me-five.)

And so, this shabby cellist with long hair, ignored by busy subway people, playing his cello that moans and weeps, gets a standing ovation in a jam-packed hall. For his finale, he calls Vladi from the audience.

VLADI – Mom, I’m scared.

MOM – Go, you idiot.

Mom drags a resisting Vladi towards the stage with a roar of applause. They play Borodin’s Nocturne flawlessly together. Ivan signals when it is Vladi’s turn for the solo. Another standing ovation. Vladi tells the audience Ivan is teaching him in a subway station. Next day, they are mobbed in the subway. The huge crowd comes for the music, not the train. It is an underground concert that the police is forced to later ban.

VLADI – I know why you play in the subway. You can’t keep your music to yourself, or you go crazy.

IVAN – Right. Our talents are meant for others. We have to share them. The Lord gets angry if you keep it to yourself.

Vladi becomes the youngest music teacher in school, and the youngest member of the Zagreb Symphony Orchestra.

MORE INSPIRING ARTICLES – click ‘HOME’ (top right of page) or go to

AUTHOR’S BOOK  – Wings and Wanderlust – Discovering your Inner Self. At age 26, the author hitchhiked 25,000 kilometers in Europe and North Africa for three straight years. In this book of his wild adventures, he learned deep insights that changed him totally, which he wants to share with readers. It also a guidebook on how to plan your own adventure.

Order a hard-copy paperback or a soft-copy e-book (kindle) –

FOR THOSE WHO NEED HEALING, spiritual or physical (depression, anxiety, loneliness, terminal cancer, covid, diabetes, etc.) – say a healing prayer with (Note. If election ad appears, do not click it, wait for it to disappear).

1) Sr. Raquel Reodica, RVM, noted cancer-healer for the Lord – (download free e-book of her healing stories /

2) Father Fernando

Author’s Credentials. Blogger – ex-Columnist (Inquirer) – Healing Ministry – ex-Professor (Ateneo University) – Documentary Producer-Director (freelance, ex-ABS-CBN, ex-TVS Tokyo) – ex-Broadcaster (Radio Veritas) – Facebook “Bernie V. Lopez Eastwind” / Pages “Eastwind Journeys and Journals” and “Mary Queen of Peace”.


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