free things to do in New York City

May 2017

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
Free Events, Free Things to Do in New York City!  Read More
Join the Club!

The quality and quantity of
free events,
free things to do
that happen in New York City
every day of the year
is truly amazing.

So don't miss the opportunities
that only New York provides:
stop wondering what to do;
start taking advantage of
free things to do,
free events to go to
in NYC

Club Free Time Blog

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.

Early Music Springs up, Big-Name pianists and Blockbuster programs

Gail Wein
February 25, 2017

The month of March brings a flock of Big Name Pianists to our burg. At Carnegie Hall, Sir András Schiff plays an all-Schubert recital on March 9, Richard Goode is all about Bach and Chopin on March 15 and Mitsuko Uchida does Mozart and Schumann on March 30. Across town at 92nd Street Y, Rafa? Blechacz, the young superstar from Warsaw who won the Chopin International Piano Competition, performs Chopin (of course) and Beethoven on March 26, and over at Merkin Concert Hall on March 21, Young Concert Artists presents Dasol Kim in his New York recital debut.

There is something about early spring that brings many great early music performances to New York. No complaints here! Touring ensembles dropping by are Les Arts Florissants led by William Christie in the program Music for Marie Antoinette at Lincoln Center on March 15, Carnegie Hall presents Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in the program Foreign Affairs: Characters of the Baroque, and Miller Theatre presents Orlando Consort on West 83rd Street on March 25, as well as in a free "Pop-up" concert at Miller Theatre itself on March 28. Outstanding regional ensembles specializing in early music are not to be missed: David Hill leads Juilliard415 and Yale Schola Cantorum in music by Bach and Rameau alongside a new work by  Reena Esmail at Alice Tully Hall on March 2, The Four Nations Ensemble performs Vivaldi, Alessandro Scarlatti and Bach cantatas and concertos at Merkin Hall on March 13, and House of Time brings chamber gems by Mozart and Haydn to Hudson View Gardens in Washington Heights on March 31 and to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on April 1.

I can't help but mention a few blockbuster artists that I know you won't want to miss: Yo-Yo Ma with the New York Philharmonic March 15-18, the Boston Symphony at Carnegie Hall for three nights February 28 - March 2, Philadelphia Orchestra on March 7 and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on March 18, both also at Carnegie. And, on April 2 at Le Poisson Rouge, there will be a celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of Dorothy Delay, one of the most influential violin teachers of our time. Performances by the violinists Chee-Yun, Philippe Quint and Kurt Nikkanen are featured.

Complimentary Tickets

to shows, concerts ... (CFT Deals!)

Classical Music | Choir and orchestra with inspiring music

Regular: $50; Member: $0.00

Classical Music | Orchestra performs Mozart, Beethoven and more

Regular: $50; Member: $0.00

Classical Music | Baroque music

Regular: $40; Member: $0.00

Join the Club!