For the four people standing on the balcony of Central Park ‘s Loeb Boathouse, December 22, 2013 was not simply three days before Christmas. Nor was it just the start of a long and glorious New School winter break. It was the setting of a popup marriage proposal.
Robin Stangroom had contacted The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in early October for their help in devising a memorable proposal to his then-girlfriend as they visited New York for the holiday season. A Londoner, Stangroom hoped to hire a few of the school’s talented jazz musicians to stage an impromptu performance as he bent down on one knee.
Michael Stephenson, who is in his senior year at Jazz and plays the saxophone, was more than willing to lead the musical accompaniment to the proposal. It was his second such performance. “I always get a bit nervous at the moment it happens,” he said of playing during a proposal. “I’m obviously hoping for a ‘yes!’ but just try and concentrate on not making any mistakes of my own.”
Stephenson enlisted the help of fellow New Schooler Moki Kawaguchi to play the piano as he sang the lyrics to Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You,” the couples’ favorite song. Everything went off without a hitch. On a cue from a Boathouse employee, the music began and the “yes!” was secured with out too much hoopla. As Stephenson remembers it, “We went in, we played, and we walked out like nothing happened. “She [Stangroom’s fiancé] was definitely emotional. I don’t know if she cried. That happens sometimes, you know.”
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