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Club Free Time Blog

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.


Now is the Month of Maying


Gail Wein
May 02, 2017

Spring has finally arrived to our fair city, and we have a bouquet of free concerts for you this month.

On May 11, 12 and 13, Onsite Opera presents Mozart's "The Secret Gardner" IN a garden: the Westside Community Garden on West 89th Street. Reserve a free ticket at Onsite Opera's website.

On May 19, NY Polyphony performs works by Bach and others at Church of St. Vincent Ferrer on the Upper East Side (presented by Miller Theatre). That same weekend, the annual Look and Listen Festival brings three exciting programs to three different neighborhoods, each connecting innovative aural and visual art: May 18 at Pratt Manhattan Gallery on 14th Street, May 19 at BRIC House in Brooklyn, and May 21 at Morningside Park.

On May 29, the New York Philharmonic delivers its long-standing tradition of free Memorial Day concerts at St. John The Divine. Mahler's majestic Symphony No. 4 is on the program; Alan Gilbert conducts. Another New York tradition, the Bang on A Can marathon, celebrates its 30th anniversary with 8 hours of new music on May 6 from 2-10 pm at Brooklyn Museum. It's free with Museum admission (which itself is free after 5 pm on Saturdays). And, not quite free, but pretty darned inexpensive is the Dover Quartet with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman at Town Hall on May 7, the final presentation of the year on the Peoples' Symphony Concert series.

There are some other notable performances in May that are not free, but well worth your while and your dollar. On May 16, the Orchestra of St. Luke's teams up with three young star soloists for the Young Concert Artists gala concert at Alice Tully Hall. The period instrument ensemble House of Time presents a program of music from Thomas Jefferson's music library, including Corelli and Abel on May 12 (in Washington Heights) and May 13 (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church), and the pianist and composer Jed Distler plays a program in tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on its 50th Anniversary at Bargemusic.

Looking ahead to June: Make Music New York, New York Philharmonic concerts in the Park, Naumburg Bandshell concerts (free, free and free). Details coming soon.


April: Great Music from Beginning to End, AND, in the Middle, There's Always Room for Cello


Gail Wein
March 31, 2017

East meets West and music meets art on March 31 and April 1 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Juilliard Orchestra premieres music by Tan Dun, the composer best known for his film score for Fighting Tiger Hidden Dragon. Even better: the composer conducts. The Met commissioned this new work by Tan Dun in conjunction with its exhibit featuring 2000-year old terracotta warrior sculptures. Tickets for sale via Met Museum's website.

It's a rare and exciting event when cellists from the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chamber Music Society and Juilliard get together. On a concert on April 23 at Alice Tully Hall, the Cellists of Lincoln Center will perform one of the most gorgeous works ever, the "Bachianas Brasileiras" by Villa-Lobos, as part of a full program of favorites. If that's not enough cello for you, then go to the 92nd Street Y the previous night, April 22, to hear Alisa Weilerstein perform all six suites for cello by JS Bach.

If you're in the mood for string quartets, the month of April has you covered. Attaca Quartet plays Johns Adams at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on the 2nd, Jupiter Quartet gives a free performance on the 10th at Music Mondays (Advent Lutheran Church on Broadway at 93rd Street), Takacs Quartet is at Lincoln Center on the 13th, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents the St. Lawrence String Quartet on April 25.

There are a number of notable orchestra performances coming up: St. Louis Symphony (March 31), Munich Philharmonic (April 3 and 5) and San Francisco Symphony (April 7 and 8), all at Carnegie Hall; The Knights at BRIC in Brooklyn (April 9 and 13) and the New York Philharmonic, which returns from their European tour, performs April 20 through mid-June.

Capping off the month of April is an entire day and night of music by Steve Reich, in honor of the composer's 80th birthday. It's the annual Wall to Wall concert at Symphony Space on April 30 and it's all free.


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