Facebook Twitter

SUBWAY VIOLINIST THROWS FANS A CONCERT AT LINCOLN CENTER

SHARE SUBWAY VIOLINIST THROWS FANS A CONCERT AT LINCOLN CENTER

The place was highbrow, a concert hall at Lincoln Center, but the crowd was more used to seeing violinist James Graseck underground.

Graseck has been entertaining commuters in subways for more than 20 years and used some of the coins tossed his way to throw a concert Thursday night for his straphanger fans."Elaine, from the World Trade Center stop! Good to see you," Graseck said, hugging one commuter after the classical performance at Alice Tully Hall. He waved to another, saying, "Bob, I'll see you at the Long Island Railroad, OK?"

The hall was sold out by 1,096 people who paid $16 each. They clapped, hummed along and even shouted "Ole!" as Graseck played a program of Bach, Paganini and Schubert.

"I don't like classical music. I just like Jimmy," said Joe Abrams, a transit policeman who knows Graseck from Penn Station and brought his wife to the concert.

Graseck, 36, saved $5,000 to rent the hall, partly from money he earned in subways. "It is a dream come true in a way," he said before his performance.

Graseck grinned throughout the show and at one juncture pointed to a group seated near the stage. "From the Flushing (Queens) line, right?" he asked.

He ended with a dozen encores, classical excerpts running just three to five minutes each - about the time one has to wait for a train. "I learned these playing you-know-where," Graseck told the audience.

He is a classically trained violinist who studied at Juilliard.

Graseck's initial mass transit performance came in 1968 on a Long Island Railroad car headed for Brentwood, Graseck said. He made $10 in five minutes, and a star was born.

"At first I did it just for the money," he confessed. "But the applause, the smiles, made me feel as though I was reaching the hearts of people. It's very spontaneous, very communicative."

These days, a subway performer can make about $100 a day, said Graseck. His favorite platform is at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue.