Roy Nathanson’s 5pm Porch Concert Ensemble: World of Fire
Late March 2020, in a shuttered New York City due to Covid, saxophonist Roy Nathanson took a cue from Italians who sang to the world from their balconies, and he marched out onto his own second-story Brooklyn porch to play “Amazing Grace.” He committed to playing one healing song each day, at precisely 5pm. Roy’s musician neighbors heard the call and joined him on the Flatbush sidewalk to improvise and share the music together.
After an impressive 82 consecutive days of 5pm concerts with an expanding local audience, the musicians turned to creating a learning program for local youth, whose summer camp was cancelled and were unable to do much of anything during the lockdown. Making music together under the supervision of professional musicians revealed a remarkable balm for the Covid blues.
This 23-minute film documents the culminating performance of the 5pm Porch Concert Ensemble and their students. “World of Fire” is a pandemic-aware procession that visits a suite of diverse musical and cultural styles on the porches, driveways, yards, and sidewalks of Marlborough Road. It is one neighborhood’s heartfelt response to a city, a country, and a world that is now so full of Fire.