Bankers Become Heroes for Lesser Known Parks at David Bowie BashBy
City Parks Foundation benefit supports sports, music programs
Bowie’s old bandmates play ‘Golden Years’ for Barse, Reinert
With decades of weather and concert data to work with, Christopher Mann of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ offered to write an algorithm to predict attendance at SummerStage, a slate of free events in New York green spaces run by City Parks Foundation.
His wife, Heather Lubov, the nonprofit’s executive director, said no. The performances take place rain or shine. Only thunder can mess with SummerStage, and in any case, humans run the show, from the curators who book the acts to the toe-tapping New Yorkers who attend them.
And when thunderstorms entered the forecast the morning of City Park’s annual benefit on Monday, it wasn’t an algo that found a way to relocate the whole shebang from Central Park to Terminal 5 in a matter of hours.
John Moore and Mark Shulman of Bowery Presents, the producer of City Park Foundation’s benefit concerts, offered the venue. A lot of hands moved -- and set up again -- the tables, the decor and equipment for the band to perform a full David Bowie tribute concert with musicians who played with the rock icon.
City Park Foundation’s supporters chipped in too, gamely adjusting from the benefit’s usual leafy scenery and June light to Terminal 5’s nightclub setting. Paolo Pellegrini, dancing throughout the concert, fit in particularly well. And the guests’ sense of purpose was undimmed.
Our parks are "the glue of the community when so much else can fall apart," said Michael Reinert, a partner at Fox Rothschild and lifelong New Yorker who was honored. "Our parks are here to provide a level of relief from the otherwise overwhelming feeling you can get from the day to day urban world."
Reinert then told of a Father’s Day outing to see the panorama at the Queens Museum that had given him perspective on this gala gathering.
Examining the 3D model of New York made him realize "how much of the city I’ve never seen, that I don’t know," he said. There are "splotches of green in all five boroughs."
Clove Lakes Park, in Staten Island; St. Mary’s Park, in the Bronx; Coffey Park in Brooklyn. The people who live near green spaces like these are the ones City Parks Foundation truly serves. While the SummerStage concerts take place in Central Park and 15 other green spaces, the foundation’s programs reach 425,000 people each year from more than 350 parks, rec centers and public schools.
"Virtually every single one of us has the ability and the means to get out of the city, to leave the hustle and bustle," Reinert said. "But so many of our neighbors do not."
City Parks Foundation’s sports programs offer free instruction in tennis, golf, soccer and track, said Sumitomo Mitsui’s Eric Planey. John Troubh, who said his Troubh Partners has had a so-so start to the year, added that the foundation has recently extended the hours of kids’ activities to help working parents.
David Barse, one of the gala’s chairmen, said things are going well so far at Outvest Capital, the firm he set up last year with Alec Ellison. Its name refers to its aim to avoid, or “outvest,” companies being disrupted by technology. The longtime CEO of Third Avenue Management departed that firm at the end of 2015.
The evening ended with a full set of Bowie’s hits, including "Changes" and "Heroes." Many of the performers were part of a tribute tour in January and February. The band included Earl Slick, who played guitar on the 70s classics Young Americans and Station to Station, bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, guitarist Mark Plati, and the Blackstar album’s saxophonist and flutist, Donny McCaslin. Raul Midon, Jonatha Brooke and Bernard Fowler were among those who took Bowie’s vocal turns on the mic as Ziggy or the Thin White Duke.