free things to do in New York City

August 2017

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Free Events, Free Things to Do in New York City!  Read More
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Club Free Time Blog

Dog Days and Starry Nights

Gail Wein
August 01, 2017

Though it's the 'dog days' of August, there is plenty of music to keep us all out of the doldrums.

Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center brings some stellar talent to its stages: the Cliburn-award winning Italian pianist Beatrice Rana appears with the MM Festival Orchestra on August 4 and 5, the violinist Joshua Bell and the cellist Steven Isserlis are featured in the Brahms "Double Concerto" on August 8 and 9 (the two will also give a late-night chamber recital on August 9), and the handsome musicians from Denmark, the Danish String Quartet, perform an early evening show at Alice Tully Hall and a late night recital at Kaplan Penthouse on August 10. And, violin phenom Gil Shaham performs the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the festival orchestra on August 18 and 19.

Your ticket for each orchestra performance also gives you entry to a pre-concert recital at 6:30 pm. This is a great opportunity to hear Beatrice Rana play a solo Bach partita (August 4 and 5), and Gil Shaham perform Prokofiev with his wife, the excellent violinist Adele Anthony (August 18 and 19).

Across town, the tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs in two of the intimate spaces at the Park Avenue Armory on August 9 and 11. The program begins with a recital of lieder and art songs, with the pianist Myra Huang at the Board of Officers Room. Then the performers and audience move to the Veterans Room, where Brownlee performs jazz standards and American spirituals with the jazz pianist Jason Moran.

In Greenwich Village, Le Poisson Rouge brings cellist Sophia Bacelar and pianist/composer Dan Tepfer to the stage on August 13. The program features a re-imagined version of a Bach Cello Suite with improvisations by Tepfer, plus tangos by Astor Piazzolla. On August 28, the fiery pianist Taka Kigawa presents his annual late-summer program at LPR, this time featuring Olivier Messiaen’s monumental masterpiece, “Catalogue d’oiseaux”.

Speaking of Piazzolla, you can explore the tango master's complicated personal relationships and far-reaching musical legacy in a program of words and music at Joe's Pub on August 5 and 6 in "That's Not Tango". 
Stay tuned: In September, a host of early season performances and festivals roll in, followed by the official season openings at Carnegie Hall and New York Philharmonic.

Festive Festivals

by Gail Wein
July 03, 2017

July in New York City brings a confluence of several major performing arts festivals: Mostly Mozart, the Lincoln Center Festival and International Keyboard Institute, as well as an abundance of free outdoor events.

Lincoln Center Festival runs July 10-30, and its typically eclectic offerings include a multi-disciplinary work, Cloud River Mountain. Composed by David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon (the Bang on a Can founders) and Lao Luo, it features the hotly touted vocalist Gong Linna singing in Manderin and English with the Bang on a Can All Stars in a performance that embraces music and poetry, East and West, acoustic and electric. July 14 and 15 at Gerald Lynch Theater. Also not to be missed at Lincoln Center Festival, on July 20-23 a trio of renowned ballet corps - Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and New York City Ballet - split the bill to perform Balanchine's three-part work "Jewels". Then on July 26-30, the Bolshoi is in the spotlight performing Taming of the Shrew, accompanied by the New York City Ballet Orchestra performing the score by Dmitry Shostakovich.

Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival runs July 25 through August 20. With a half-century of seasons to its credit, the festival has a baseline of solidly crowd-pleasing programming, with a few surprises tossed in here and there. A couple of highlights early in the festival: Pianist Jeremy Denk joins the Festival Orchestra in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, with Schubert's 5th Symphony also on the program (July 28 and 29), and Les Arts Florissants performs Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s sacred choral music (July 27).

Though I delight in referring to it by pronouncing its initials - "IKI" - the International Keyboard Institute and Festival brings two solid weeks of exceptional keyboard performances to Hunter College July 16-30. Highlights include recitals by Vladimir Feltsman (July 23), Steven Mayer (July 22) and Alon Goldstein (July 20).

There is plenty to celebrate outdoors as well, including two celebrated orchestras performing at a 112-year long free concert series: The Knights on July 11 and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on July 18, and East Coast Chamber Orchestra on August 1.

See you at the concert!

Great Music Inside and Out

by Gail Wein
May 31, 2017

June is "shoulder season" for classical performances. Many organizations are winding up their regular seasons, and some are bringing their wares out of doors to share their talents in our city's parks.

The New York Philharmonic leads the way, with a semi-staged production of Wagner's opera Das Rheingold, June 1, 3 and 6 at Lincoln Center. Our hometown band's season finale - and Alan Gilbert's last as music director - is on June 8, 9 and 10 at Lincoln Center. "A Concert for Unity" features the NY Philharmonic, joined by musicians from orchestras around the world, including China, Iran, Israel, Korea and Venezuela, performing Mahler's Symphony No. 7. June 8's program has some additional selections, and includes the luminary soloists Yo-Yo Ma and Wynton Marsalis, among others. Tickets available through Lincoln Center box office. A few days later, June 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18, the New York Philharmonic delivers its free annual parks concerts, with outdoor performances in parks in each of the five boroughs.

The Metropolitan Opera takes the show on the road, er.... grass, too. Their Summer Recital Series hits parks in every borough, with an evening of arias and duets from a variety of operas, performed by established and rising stars. Performances are on June 12, 14, 16, 17, 23, 24, and all are free.
Things are still cooking over at Carnegie Hall. The Met Opera Orchestra performs Schumann and Mahler on June 3, and Sibelius and Mahler on June 6; Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra appears on June 7, and there's a free neighborhood concert in a midtown park featuring the vocal ensemble Cantus on June 21.

Plus, it's festival time: Orchestra of St. Luke's explores the life and music of Franz Schubert in concerts performed by St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble at Morgan Library and Brooklyn Museum, June 7-25. And, Chelsea Music Festival happens in locales around Chelsea (of course) June 9-17. Performers include the Verona Quartet, the Lee Trio and many others. The programs marry music, cuisine and other disciplines.

And last, but far from least, Make Music New York happens on June 21. I am not exaggerating when I say that there are over 1,000 free performances in parks and on the street throughout all of the boroughs. More than a listening experience, it is an exercise in discovery and spontaneity.

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