The New York Philharmonic’s 2019 Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, provided a stunning introduction to conductor Jaap van Zweden, completing his first season as the Philharmonic’s Music Director, leading the orchestra in a program of Rossini’s Overture to “La gazza ladra” (The Thieving Magpie); Copland’s “Hoe-Down,” from Rodeo; and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27. The concert also featured astonishing compositions by two 12-year olds in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) program, and their opportunity to hear their works performed by the full symphony orchestra in front of 50,000 people in Central Park and thousands more in concerts in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, Cunningham Park, Queens; and Prospect Park, Brooklyn. (For the schedule, see www.nyphil.org.)
In the 54 years that the New York Philharmonic has offered the Summer Concerts in the Parks (for the past 13 years, the series has been presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer), some 15 million people have enjoyed “priceless music absolutely free, under the stars” and with fireworks, no less. It is a vast communal picnic with music the food of love. Play on.
This is the second year that the concert has also showcased original compositions of its Very Young Composers – a program that was begun 20 years ago to give children an opportunity to learn about music in an after-school program in New York’s public schools, with the best of them being performed by members of the Philharmonic, and the very, very best by the full orchestra. There are some 200 students enrolled in schools all over the city; the Philharmonic also partners with schools around the country and the world to offer similar programs. (The director of Education and Community Outreach, Gary Padmore was on his way to Shanghai.)
Nilomi Weerakkody, a 12-year old who is a sixth grader at the Dalton School, composed “Soundscape for Orchestra,” turning the sounds of nature into a symphonic composition.
For “Ociantrose,” Mack Scocca-Ho,
a 12-year old who has been composing since he was 3, created an imaginary city,
Ociantrose, the capital of Myanolar. His composition celebrates Ociantrose’s
distinctive identity, a bustling city where order is not imposed by the
government but arises from the residents. The musical themes suggest “the
variety of people and the harmony emerging form independence.”
The Philharmonic is raising money
to subsidize its education programs – with a challenge that if it raises
$400,000 by August 31, a donor will match with $200,000 (go to www.nyphil.org).
Next season will showcase “Project
19,” marking the centennial of the 19th amendment with new works by
19 female composers – the largest commissioning program of women ever
undertaken by an orchestra, said Deborah Borda, the New York Philharmonic’s
President and Chief Executive Officer. Also, “Mahler’s New York” honors New
York’s past through two of his symphonies with an examination of the
composer-conductor’s time in the city. The “hotspots” festival focuses on three
“new” music centers – Berlin, Reykjavik and New York.
“New York is more than the
Philharmonic’s home,” Borda writes. “This city is in our blood and its high
standards fuel our planning and performances.”
Here are highlights from this
year’s Summer in the Parks concerts:
Summer is a magical time in New York City, with a burst of the finest cultural institutions opening their doors, coming outdoors and letting all the world in.
Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park
The Public Theater (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis;
Executive Director, Patrick Willingham) has begun performances of the 2019 Free
Shakespeare in the Park production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at the Delacorte
Theater, continuing a 57-year tradition of free theater in Central Park. Directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, the
all-black staging of this beloved comedy will run through Sunday, June 23.
Then, for the first
time since 1979, Free Shakespeare in the Park will present CORIOLANUS, the Bard’s blistering drama about a general voted into
power by a populace hungry for change, and the unraveling that follows. Tony
Award winner Daniel Sullivan (Proof, Shakespeare In
The Park’s Troilus and Cressida) directs a
modern-day version of this riveting epic of democracy and demagoguery, July
This year, there will be voucher or ticket distributions
over the course of the summer in all five boroughs for almost every public
performance of Free Shakespeare in the Park, continuing The Public’s mission of
making great theater accessible to all. This summer’s distributions at
libraries, recreation centers, and community partners throughout New York City,
will have more locations and dates than ever to provide New Yorkers even more
opportunities to obtain free tickets. To see a complete borough distribution
schedule, visit publictheater.org/borough.
Kenny Leon directs a bold new take on Shakespeare’s
cherished comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication, MUCH ADO ABOUT
NOTHING. In this modern production, we find the community of Messina
celebrating a break from an ongoing war. But not all is peaceful amid the
revelry, as old rivals engage in a battle of wits, unexpected foes plot
revenge, and young lovers are caught in a tumultuous courtship – until love
proves the ultimate trickster, and undoes them all.
The all-black cast of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
includes Jamar Brathwaite (Ensemble), Danielle Brooks (Beatrice), Grantham
Coleman (Benedick), Chuck Cooper (Leonato), Javen K. Crosby (Ensemble), Denzel
DeAngelo Fields (Ensemble), Jeremie Harris (Claudio), Tayler Harris (Ensemble),
Erik Laray Harvey (Antonio/Verges), Kai Heath (Messenger), Daniel Croix
Henderson (Balthasar), Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Friar Francis/Sexton),
Tiffany Denise Hobbs (Ursula), Lateefah Holder (Dogberry), LaWanda Hopkins
(Dancer), Billy Eugene Jones (Don Pedro), Margaret Odette (Hero), Hubert
Point-Du Jour (Don John), William Roberson (Ensemble), Jaime Lincoln Smith
(Borachio), Jazmine Stewart (Ensemble), Khiry Walker (Conrade/Ensemble), Olivia
Washington (Margaret), and Latra A. Wilson (Dancer).
To enable as many New Yorkers as possible the
opportunity to experience Free Shakespeare in the Park there will be an open
caption performance of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING on Friday, June 14; an ASL
performance on Saturday, June 15; and an ADA audio described performance on
Thursday, June 13.
Since 1962, over five million people have enjoyed
more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and
musicals at the Delacorte Theater. Conceived by founder Joseph Papp as a way to
make great theater accessible to all, The Public’s Free Shakespeare in the Park
continues to be the bedrock of the Company’s mission to increase access and
engage the community.
This season, The Public proudly welcomes the return
of Jerome L. Greene Foundation and Bank of America as season sponsors.
The Public continues the work of its visionary
founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with
some of the most important ideas and social issues of today. Conceived over 60
years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters, The Public has long
operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that
art and culture belong to everyone. Under the leadership of Artistic Director
Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public’s wide
breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark
home at Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in
Central Park, The Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City’s five boroughs,
Public Forum, Under the Radar, Public Studio, Public Works, Public Shakespeare
Initiative, and Joe’s Pub. Since premiering HAIR in 1967, The Public continues
to create the canon of American Theater and is currently represented on
Broadway by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Their programs and productions can also be seen regionally across the country
and around the world. The Public has received 59 Tony Awards, 170 Obie Awards,
53 Drama Desk Awards, 56 Lortel Awards, 34 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 13 New
York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and 6 Pulitzer Prizes.
Tickets to The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in
the Park are distributed in a number of ways. On the day of each public
performance, free tickets may be acquired in person at The Delacorte Theater,
through a digital lottery via the TodayTix website or mobile app, in person at
a borough distribution site, and via an in person lottery in the lobby of The
Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street. All tickets are subject to
availability. A performance calendar and complete ticket distribution details
can be found at PublicTheater.org. A limited number of tickets are also
available via advance reservation by making a contribution in support of Free
Shakespeare in the Park. To learn more, or to make a contribution, call
212.967.7555, or visit PublicTheater.org. The Delacorte Theater in Central Park
is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th
Street and Fifth Avenue (publictheater.org).
Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series
Features 6 Free Concerts
The Metropolitan Opera’s 2019 Summer
Recital Series once again brings free outdoor recitals, featuring established
artists and young talents of the opera world, to New Yorkers in all five
boroughs. The series, now in its 11th year, features six free concerts
embracing all five boroughs, and has become an operatic summer tradition.
Presented in collaboration with City
Parks Foundation’s SummerStage Festival, the first two concerts, on Monday,
June 10 at 8 p.m. at Central Park SummerStage (Manhattan) and Wednesday, June
12 at 7 p.m. at Brooklyn Bridge Park (Brooklyn), will feature soprano Ying
Fang,who sang a featured role in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito this
season,and tenor Ben Bliss and baritone Nathan Gunn,who sang
together this season in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. They will be joined by
Met pianist Dan Saunders.
Four additional recitals feature soprano Leah Hawkins and tenor Mario Bahg, current members of
the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and baritone Joseph Lim, a winner of the Met’s
National Council Auditions. They will be accompanied by Met pianist Dimitri Dover. Their concerts will
take place on Thursday, June 13 at 7 p.m. in Jackie Robinson Park (Manhattan);
Saturday, June 15 at 4 p.m. in Williamsbridge Oval (Bronx); Monday, June 17 at
7 p.m. in Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens); and Wednesday, June 19 at 7 p.m. in
Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island).
The Met’s Summer Recital Series will
feature arias and duets, as well as Broadway standards and other classical
Met’s Summer Recital Series is supported, in part, by public funds from the New
York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council,
and in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Recreation. Major funding
has also been provided by The Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation, in honor of Mrs.
The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks,
Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, have become an iconic New York summer
experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the city
into a patchwork of picnickers and providing music lovers with an opportunity
to hear the best classical music under the stars.
The concerts will take place Tuesday June 11 in Van
Cortlandt Park, Bronx; Wednesday, June
12 in Central Park, Manhattan, Thursday, June 13 in Cunningham Park in Queens,
Friday, June 14 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and Sunday, June 16 in Staten
All performances begin at 8 PM except the Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island,
which begins at 4 PM.
The scheduled program includes Rossini, Overture
to La Gazza Ladra; Works by Very Young Composers of New York City; and Copland’s
Hoe-Down, from Rodeo.
There will be fireworks by Volt Live following the
performances in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.
Now celebrating its
41st year, the annual Museum Mile Festival takes place rain or shine on
Tuesday, June 11, from 6 to 9 pm. Walk the Mile on Fifth Avenue between 82nd
Street and 110th Street while visiting some of New York City’s finest cultural
institutions, which are open free to the public throughout the evening. Special
exhibitions and works from permanent collections are on view inside the
museums’ galleries, with live music and art-making workshops on Fifth Avenue at
stretch of Fifth Avenue is home to seven participating institutions—El Museo
del Barrio, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, Neue Galerie
and the Museum of the City of New York. In addition to all the art to see
inside, there are plenty of outdoor festivities: face painting, chalk drawing,
live music and other block-party-type events. (http://museummilefestival.org/)
Age Lawn Party, Governors Island
Nostalgia doesn’t begin to describe the feeling that
permeates Governors Island for the two weekends (June 15 & 16, August 24 & 25) each
summer that thousands of people, many decked out in 1920s regalia, elaborate
picnic baskets in hand, disembark from ferries from lower Manhattan and
This, the 14th year of the festival, is
especially poignant because it is also the 100th anniversary of
Prohibition and all that the counter-culture (women’s rights!) Jazz Age
It is also one of New York City’s
most glamorous and entertaining events of the summer.
Jazz Age Lawn Party started in 2005 as a small gathering on NYC’s Governors
Island, and has since grown into one of New York City’s most beloved events.
This historically sold out event attracts thousands of time travelers each
year, who come together to discover the music and zeitgeist of the 1920s.
Consistently selected by the New York Times as one of the year’s most memorable
events, Jazz Age Lawn Party offers a unique, interactive opportunity to relive
one of the most colorful and formative epochs in American history.
The event is held rain or shine; food is available
for sale but people love to bring their own picnics (outside alcohol is prohibited, but
there is alcohol, including Prohibition-era inspired cocktails, for sale).
Though enjoying Governor’s Island is free (and there
are fascinating historic sites as well as art and cultural and recreational
activities on the island, and you can hear the music, admission to the
festivities is by ticket (which cost up to $175). Purchase tickets in advance https://www.eventbrite.com/o/jazz-age-lawn-party-18523813336
(no charge for children 12 and under).
By Karen Rubin, Dave E. Leiberman, Laini Miranda
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The New York Philharmonic’s 2018 Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, provided a stunning introduction to conductor James Gaffigan, a New York native and Brooklynite, leading the orchestra in a program celebrating Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, evocative works highlighting the Orchestra’s virtuosity, and compositions by fifth-grade students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) program — the first time that VYC works have been performed in the parks concerts.
The delightful program, perfect for a summer-concert-in-the-parks, featured Saint-Saëns’s Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah; Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, a love letter to New York City;andRimsky-Korsakov’s storybook in symphony, Scheherazade.
The concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park June 15 featured truly remarkable performances of 2018 works by 11-year-old Very Young Composer Jordan Millar’s Boogie Down Uptown; and 10-year-old Very Young Composer Camryn Cowan’s Harlem Shake.
James Gaffigan, a proud New Yorker who introduced the concert by asking for applause for public school teachers, showed himself to be the very antithesis of the arrogant orchestra conductor, but rather, generous of praise, encouragement and exuberant emotion.
He did not use a baton for the Scheherazade. He waved his hands and arms in grand gestures, not so much conducting as dancing, performing, acting the music, bringing his whole body into it more like an opera singer than the orchestra conductor, giving the piece a staccato-like crisp precision. He conveyed an infectious joy of music. After, he congratulated Frank Huang, the brilliant concertmaster for his angelic violin solo, and then walked into the orchestra to congratulate all the solo performers, before taking the collective bow.
The summer concert series also featured performances at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx (June 12); the Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan (June 13); and Cunningham Park, Queens (June 14). Musicians from the New York Philharmonic also performed Beethoven’s Wind Sextet, Op. 71; Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence; and the World Premieres of wind sextets by Very Young Composers of New York City — 14-year-old Chi-Chi Ezekwenna’s It’s Almost Summer! and 13-year-old Nicolas Lipman’s Sriracha! — in the Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island at the Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (June 17).
The performances in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn concluded with dazzling fireworks.
The summer series is an amazing opportunity to bring “priceless music” to new audiences absolutely free. Since 1965, the summer series has brought joy to more than 15 million New Yorkers and Big Apple visitors.
“We want all New Yorkers to love the Philharmonic as much as we do and the concerts in the Parks are a glorious way to share the Philharmonic’s virtuosity and power,” said New York Philharmonic chairman Oscar S. Schafer, who with his wife, Didi, has underwritten the series.
Here are more highlights from the concert in Prospect Park:
Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States.
At the New York Philharmonic’s website (www.nyphil.org) you can peruse online archives and exhibits, see the concert calendar, get background on the musicians, and purchase tickets.
The summer concerts also inspire visits to see the orchestra at home at Lincoln Center (David Geffen Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-875-5656). There are various subscription offers – the Philharmonic was offering an opportunity to choose four or more 2018-19 subscription concerts to get one free (promo code CHOOSE4, by June 22).
This year’s New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks – its 52nd summer – provided a way to say farewell to Music Director Alan Gilbert. The series, presented for the past 11 years by Didi and Oscar Schafer, was a hug and a kiss to the 100,000 music lovers who come out to the free summer concerts (“priceless music, absolutely free”), at the Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan; Cunningham Park, Queens; Prospect Park, Brooklyn and Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx. This season’s program was also the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season celebration of its hometown, featuring masterworks by Dvořák (Symphony No. 9, From the New World), Leonard Bernstein (Symphonic Dances from West Side Story), and George Gershwin (An American in Paris) — all written in New York and premiered by the Philharmonic – and was the culmination of its season-long “The New World Initiative”.
Throughout the 2016–17 season, The New World Initiative has explored the New World Symphony’s theme of home and honors New York City and its role as an adopted home. The Philharmonic gave the World Premiere of the New World Symphony in 1893, marking the Orchestra’s first World Premiere of a work written in New York City that would become part of the standard repertoire. The Largo theme was later set to the words “Goin’ Home” by Dvořák’s student William Arms Fisher.
The New York Philharmonic’s free parks concerts have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the New York area into a patchwork of picnickers, and providing music lovers with an opportunity to hear the best classical music under the stars. More than 14 million listeners have been delighted by the performances since their inception.
Before the New York Philharmonic takes the stage, it has become a new custom to “Share the Stage” with local musicians. This year, that included BombaYo (Van Cortlandt Park); The Ebony Hillbillies and Zulal (Central Park), The queen’s Cartoonists and Slum Suit (Cunningham Park) and The Side Project (Prospect Park).
And at this year’s concerts in the parks series, audiences joined the Orchestra in community performances of the “Goin’ Home” theme from Dvořák’s New WorldSymphony, all part of The New World Initiativeand the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season celebration of its hometown. (Dvořák’s symphony also incorporates the Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.”)
We caught the concert at Cunningham Park, in Queens, which also featured fireworks display.
The program was a crowd-pleaser – the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story were simply transporting – and Gilbert looked extremely relaxed and joyful.
Alan Gilbert, who has stepped down as music director of NY Philharmonic, just revealed that he will be trading New York for Hamburg, Germany, leading the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall as chief conductor.
In a phone interview with the New York Times, Gilbert, a frequent guest conductor in Hamburg, said that the Elbphilharmonie’s vision aligned perfectly with his own paradigm for successful 21st-century orchestras. “It’s about how they connect to the cities they serve,” he said. “And one condition for that is the existence of a perfectly appropriate physical space. What’s going on there is related to what’s potentially going to happen here in New York with the idea of redoing David Geffen Hall.”
Gilbert bids farewell to New York in the parks concert program, writing, “It has been a privilege to stand upon this august platform and make decisions that have altered and enhanced New York City’s cultural landscape. When this Orchestra does artistic things, they are noticed, and they inspire others, far and wide. Ultimately, I know my tenure is just one chapter in the Philharmonic’s long story, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.”
As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic since 2009, Alan Gilbert has introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, and Artist-in-Association; CONTACT!, the new-music series; the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music; and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, partnerships with cultural institutions to offer training of pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. The Financial Times called him “the imaginative maestro-impresario in residence.”
Alan Gilbert concludes his final season as Music Director with four programs that reflect themes, works, and musicians that hold particular meaning for him, including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony alongside Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, Wagner’s complete Das Rheingold in concert, and an exploration of how music can effect positive change in the world. Other highlights include four World Premieres, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, and Manhattan, performed live to film. He also leads the Orchestra on the EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour and in performance residencies in Shanghai and Santa Barbara. Past highlights include acclaimed stagings of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson (2015 Emmy nomination), and Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake starring Marion Cotillard; 28 World Premieres; a tribute to Boulez and Stucky during the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL; The Nielsen Project; the Verdi Requiem and Bach’s B-minor Mass; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey, performed live to film; Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony on the tenth anniversary of 9/11; performing violin in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time; and ten tours around the world.
Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and former principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, Alan Gilbert regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. This season he returns to the foremost European orchestras, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, and Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He will record Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Inon Barnatan, and conduct Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, his first time leading a staged opera there. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams’s Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award, and he conducted Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles on a recent album recorded live at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. His honors include Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music (2010) and Westminster Choir College (2016), Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award (2011), election to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2014), a Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy (2015), Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2015), and New York University’s Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City (2016).