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Club Free Time Blog

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.

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.

Complimentary Tickets

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Musical | Musical for children

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Play | A play with Broadway performers

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