free things to do in New York City

September 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

Another Opening, Another Show

Gail Wein
August 27, 2017

Pack away your shorts and sandals, and haul out your Going Out duds. It’s time for opening night in New York.

New York Philharmonic gets its season underway on September 19. The incoming music director Jaap Van Zweden leads our hometown band in the powerful and majestic Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. The following week, on September 25, the Metropolitan Opera presents its glitzy and glam opening night performance: Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece Norma, featuring Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role. Previous opening nights have been simulcast on Lincoln Center Plaza and in Times Square; keep your eye out for announcements.

Carnegie Hall serves up its opening night on October 4 with an all-American program by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting. Lang Lang and Chick Corea are featured soloists in a special two-piano version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, plus music from Bernstein’s ever-popular West Side Story.

September 15-24, the Met Museum offers ten performances of “Farewell My Concubine” performed by the Shanghai Peking Opera. Its a classic tale of love and suicide, presented in a one-hour performance at The Met's Astor Court. The venue is small, and the tickets are quite pricey, but this is a unique opportunity to see this Chinese masterpiece in an intimate setting.

The Resonant Bodies Festival, which celebrates contemporary vocal music, returns to Roulette on September 5, 6 and 7. Each night features three sets by different performers, including Theo Bleckmann, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the legendary vocalist Joan La Barbara and Kamala Sankaram.

And last but not least, the violinist/composer Elektra Kurtis and her Ensemble Elektra give two concerts in New York: September 5 at Cornelia Street Café and September 19 at Symphony Space. Both are part of Kurtis’s “Rituals for Peace” series, and both feature her unique blend of classical and jazz traditions, drawing from Polish, Greek and Arabic origins.

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!

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