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Club Free Time Blog

A Good Dilemma


Gail Wein
February 01, 2017

I love New York. But, I hate New York. Our culturally rich city forces me to make difficult choices almost every day, with regard to which concert to attend. I readily admit that this is a very good dilemma to be in, and is trivial in the light of all the world's real problems. Still, I'm hoping for rapid advances in technology that will allow us to be in two places at once.

Until then, it's at least good to know what the options are, so you can make informed choices. Here are just a few coming up.

On February 2, you can go to 92nd Street Y to hear the fabulous Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer with his ensemble Kremerata Baltica; Juilliard offers a recital with its world class faculty including violinist Catherine Cho and pianist Robert McDonald, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents pianist Gilles Vonsattel in the intimate Rose Studio, rising stars of the Met Opera's Lindemann Young Artist program perform on the Park Avenue Armory's recital series, New York Philharmonic does an all-Tchaikovsky program with pianist Kirill Gerstein, and you can hear contemporary avant-garde gems by Beat Furrer at Miller Theatre on their composer portrait concert series.

February 26 is poses an equal if not greater dilemma. The Vienna Philharmonic performs Schubert's 'Great' Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall, the London Philharmonic plays works by Chopin and Mahler at Lincoln Center, the early music ensemble Ars Longa from Havana delivers Cuban music composed by the descendants of African slaves at Corpus Christi Church, emotional works by Bach, Mendelssohn and Schumann are at Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and members of the New York Philharmonic get together to perform chamber music by Schumann and Menotti at Merkin Concert Hall.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you want to go hear a concert any time this month (or anytime this year, for that matter), you're sure to have a good number to choose from on any given day.

There are some other major highlights to mention: the violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Yuja Wang form a dynamic duo on February 8 at Lincoln Center, the Guitar Marathon at 92Y is not to be missed - it goes all afternoon and evening on February 25, and two free string quartet concerts at Lincoln Center's Atrium: New Orford on February 9 and Catalyst on February 23.

On the shortest month of the year, we'll pack in as much live music as possible. Enjoy!


January: Focus! Goes Latin, Berlin does Bruckner and More


Gail Wein
December 28, 2016



In the dark and chilly days of January, there are some festivals to liven us up.

What better way than to start out with six free concerts? Juilliard's Focus! 2017 presents "Our Southern Neighbors: The Music of Latin America," with programs January 20 - 27. The New Juilliard Ensemble, Julliard Orchestra, chamber ensembles and soloists perform 20th and 21st century works by a compendium of composers from Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina Brazil and more. Most of the concerts are at Juilliard, the final one is at Alice Tully Hall. Free admission, tickets are required, available at Julliard's box office, website and at the door.

Staatskapelle Berlin comes to Carnegie Hall for an extended run January 19 - 29. Each of the nine concerts features a Bruckner Symphony and a concerto by Mozart. Daniel Barenboim conducts and is piano soloist in the Mozart concerti. This is a Big Deal. Tickets via Carnegie's box office and website.

Bundle up and trundle down to the Brooklyn waterfront for stunning views of Manhattan from a barge-turned-concert hall at the Bargemusic Here and Now Winter Festival, January 4, 5 and 6. The program features world premieres of works by some of New York's most beloved living composers, including David Del Tredici, David Leisner and Harold Meltzer. Good to know: the venue is indoors and is comfortably heated. Tickets at Bargemusic's website.

The Prototype Festival - a whirlwind of provocative opera and music-theatre - runs January 5 - 15. Six productions include the New York premieres of David Lang's Anatomy Theater and Missy Mazzoli's Breaking The Waves. Venues include HERE, BRIC and FIAF. Tickets available through Prototype's website.

Also running this month is New York City Opera's Candide by Leonard Bernstein. I thoroughly enjoyed NYCO's 2008 production, and I'm glad to know they have revived this fanciful work. Harold Prince directs. Performances on selected dates January 6 - 15 at Jazz at Lincoln Center; tickets at Jazz at Lincoln Center's box office and website.


'Tis always the season for live music.


Gail Wein
December 06, 2016

Some outstanding early music artists are in town in December: The Tallis Scholars perform A Renaissance Christmas program at Church of St. Mary the Virgin on December 10 (presented by Miller Theatre, tickets via Miller's website), the Waverly Consort weaves medieval traditions into The Christmas Story at the Cloisters on December 10 and 11 (tickets available via Met Museum website), and there are Byzantine Pop-Up concerts at the Met Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall on December 9 and 16 (free with museum admission).

Messiah by Georg Friedrich Handel is also early music (he was born in 1685, the same year as Bach). You can hardly toss a candy cane and not hit an outstanding performance of this holiday favorite. Naming just a few of the notable presentations of this masterpiece in New York: The New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert with the Concert Chorale of New York at David Geffen Hall on December 13-17; the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra perform at Trinity Church (Wall Street) on December 15 and 18, and at Alice Tully Hall on December 19 (tickets via Trinity Wall Street's website); and Kent Tritle conducts back-to-back performances of Messiah at Carnegie Hall: the Oratorio Society of New York on December 21 and Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra on December 22.

Speaking of holiday traditions, the Guggenheim museum gives its annual, colorful presentation of Prokofiev's beloved Peter and the Wolf. Ensemble Signal performs this classic for children narrated by Isaac Mizrahi on December 3, 4, 9, 10, 11.

For a festive alternative, check out Unsilent Night on December 18 (free). The music is by Phil Kline, and the event is equal parts procession and interactive concert. The audience gathers at Washington Square Park, and with boomboxes in hand (bring your own or borrow one from the composer), and then strolls across town, carrying the music to Tompkins Square Park. Information, instructions and downloadable audio is at Unsilent Night's website.


Complimentary Tickets

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Classical Music | Piano works by Schumann, Beethoven and more

Regular: $25; Member: $0.00

Classical Music | Orchestral works of Brahms and more

Regular: $30; Member: $0.00

Musical | Drama about the life of a classical musician

Regular: $23; Member: $0.00

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