Remembering Ed Koch

Remembering Ed Koch

My family returned to live in New York in 1973 after some years away. The politicians were among the looming figures. Abe Beame. Bella Abzug. Mario Cuomo. Ed Koch. Some years later, Ed Koch was elected mayor of New York. I was in my first year as a member of the All City Chorus. On a freezing cold January day, our large group was arrayed on the steps of City Hall, with our maestro, John Motley and Ed Koch in front of us.

There were other times singing for the Mayor. On one hot summer day, a call went out to get to City Hall where Jimmy Carter was going to sign legislation to help the South Bronx. Ed Koch was there to greet the President, and we provided the music. There were nights in midtown hotel ballrooms where we were brought in as musical ambassadors for every visiting dignitary.

Above all others, the night that I’ll always remember was a particular evening at Gracie Mansion. The Concert Choir, a group of about 50 of us, were asked to perform on an evening when the U.N. diplomats were gathered on the lawn. Andrew Jackson was the U.S. Ambassador and the choir members were eager to meet him. Ed Koch gave us a tour of the mansion, and talked about every piece of art, where it came from and its significance, spending time with a bunch of high school kids instead of his guests. He was most gracious.

New York in the Koch years had its share of challenges and problems. Education did not get short-changed. The quality of the education was first rate and the investment in the arts opened doors and hearts. Singing with the All City Chorus and Concert Choir has had a life-long impact on me. I’ll forever be grateful to our director, John Motley, and to Ed Koch who promoted us, a bunch of high school kids from the city, as his musical ambassadors.

– Daniel Senie