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Club Free Time Blog

Short on Days, Long on Music


Gail Wein
January 26, 2018

The month of February is short on days, but long on concerts. There is a vast selection of live music to help chase away any winter blues you may have.

February 2 is Groundhog’s Day, the day we’ll find out - according to folklore - if we’ll have an early spring. It’s also the day of Opera Lafayette’s production at the Gerald Lynch Theater of the American premiere of Erminia by Alessandro Scarlatti, and The Enchanted Forest by Francesco Geminiani, performed as a ballet pantomime. Featured is the eye-popping dance troupe Kalanidhi Dance, all in all bringing 17th century opera to life. Tickets at Opera Lafayette’s website.

Speaking of eye-popping baroque music, the ever-energetic band from London, Red Priest, performs at the Met Museum on Feb 28. Their program considers the connections—real and imagined—between gypsy musicians and the court composers of the time, including Telemann, Handel and Vivaldi. Tickets at Met Museum.

It seems like NYC’s major arts institutions pull out all the stops in February, with drool-worthy artists and programs throughout the month. The organist Kent Tritle will literally pull the stops as soloist with the NY Philharmonic when they perform Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3, the Organ Symphony, February 8-9-10.

A few weeks later, February 28 - March 3, the spectacular pianist Yuja Wang performs Brahms with Jaap Van Zweden conducting. If you can get a ticket for NY Philharmonic’s annual Chinese New Year concert on February 20, GO. It never fails to delight.

Carnegie Hall brings in a cluster of “A-list” stars all month, and each one seems like an unmissable program. Baritone Matthias Goerne with pianist Daniil Trifonov deliver a romantic program on February 6, violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk play Mozart, Schubert and more on February 7, the Chicago Symphony performs a program that features the orchestra’s trombones and tuba on February 9 and return on February 10 to play Brahms, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Emanuel Ax bring us more Brahms (because, really, we can never have too much Brahms), the Vienna Philharmonic is led by Gustavo Dudamel on February 24 (Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique”) and February 25 (Tchaikovsky’s 4th) and pianist Mitsuko Uchida swoops in with two all-Schubert programs on February 26 and March 2. Whew!

To cap things off, there are a couple of free concerts that are very worthy of your time and attention. The toy piano player (yes, that’s a thing) Phyllis Chen performs in midtown on February 15, and the Harlem Quartet gives a performance in (wait for it……) Harlem on February 22.

Yes, the days are short, the temperatures are low, and we’re months away from the rejuvenating signs of spring. But these phenomenal concert offerings will keep you busy and happy every day of the month.


Irresistible Concerts for Music-Lovers Willing to Brave the Elements


Gail Wein
December 29, 2017

Every January, New York plays host to several national and international gatherings of arts industry professionals. Coinciding with these meetings and conferences is an abundance of festivals, performances and showcases all around town.

PROTOTYPE – a festival of cutting edge opera-theatre and music-theatre works – has only been around a few years, but has gained major recognition as a collection of “can’t-miss” events. This year, eight different productions are performed in as many venues by leading composers, librettists and directors. Highlights include “Fellow Travelers” by Gregory Spears (performed by American Composers Orchestra), “Stranger Love” by Dylan Mattingly (performed by Contemporaneous) and “The Echo Drift” by Mikael Karlsson (performed by International Contemporary Ensemble, featuring singers Blythe Gaissert and John Kelly). January 7-20 in various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“A Proust Sonata” brings texts by Marcel Proust to life with live performances of music by Debussy, Schumann, Chopin and others. The production from Da Camera of Houston was created and directed by its artistic director Sarah Rothenberg, who is also the pianist in the show. January 10-12 at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in midtown Manhattan.

Two other mainstays of the frenetic January season boast all-night lineups: The Winter JazzFest NYC Marathon is on January 12 and 13, with over 100 groups at a dozen venues in Greenwich Village. One- and two-day passes are on sale on the Winter JazzFest website. GlobalFEST takes over on January 14 with world music acts showcasing at several venues in Times Square.

Carnegie Hall warms up the city with two outstanding orchestras – Royal Concertgebouw on January 17 (performing Wagner and Bruckner) and January 18 (Mahler Symphony No. 1 and Bruch Violin Concerto with the fabulous Janine Jansen), and the Cleveland Orchestra on January 23 (Mahler Symphony No. 9) and January 24 (Haydn’s oratorio “The Seasons”). Jansen returns to the Carnegie stage on January 21 for a chamber program with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Dover Quartet.

Wrapping up this merry month of music-making, New Zealand violinist Benjamin Baker makes his recital debut at Merkin Hall on January 31, presented by Young Concert Artists. YCA is an uncanny predictor of great talent, and every artist on their roster is worth hearing.

Never mind the chilly temperatures, there are so many irresistible concerts to go to!


Celebrate the Holidays and Major Milestones


Gail Wein
November 29, 2017

In 1842, John Tyler was president, Charles Dickens was all the rage, and the New York Philharmonic gave its very first concert. Now, 175 years later, the venerable institution recreates that first program, including Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the Overture to Oberon by Weber, with Alan Gilbert conducting. Performances are December 6-9. Later in the month, in a tradition almost as long, the Philharmonic delivers the holiday favorite, Handel’s Messiah, on December 12-16, with the Westminster Symphonic Choir led by Andrew Manze.

The 92nd Street Y always has great programming, and it is especially spectacular this month. Guitarist Isbin with young upstart Colin Davin on December 2, soprano Dawn Upshaw with the Brentano Quartet on December 2, and the pianist extraordinaire Jeremy Denk on December 9. And on Christmas Eve, it’s the Y’s annual tradition of David Broza’s “Not Exactly Christmas Eve” concert.

Other longtime traditions this month include Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s programs of Brandenburg Concertos on December 15, 17 and 19 at Alice Tully Hall, a fanciful and fun production of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, with Isaac Mizrahi narrating at the Guggenheim Museum on December 2-3 and 8-10, and the Metropolitan Opera’s family-oriented presentations of The Magic Flute (December 4, 7 and 9) and Hansel and Gretel (December 18, 22, 26, 28, 30, and January 1 and 6).

Some other performances that will be great destinations this month:
The internationally renowned early music vocal ensemble Tallis Scholars perform music that has endured for 500 years at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin on December 6, presented by Miller Theater; and the well-rehearsed Juilliard Orchestra performs a fabulous program of music by Frenchmen Ravel and Debussy, led by Frenchman Emmanuel Villaume on December 4 at Alice Tully Hall.

For something out of the ordinary, on December 2 and 3, join the pianist Jed Distler and the vocalist and actor Charles Miller for I DREAM A WORLD: The Life and Writings of Langston Hughes, celebrating the iconic poet on the 50th anniversary of his passing, at BronxArtSpace.


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