free things to do in New York City
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

Outdoors, Indoors, All Around the Town

by Gail Wein
June 01, 2018

It’s summertime in New York, and that means an onslaught of outdoor activities.

The densest concentration of outdoor concerts, by far, is on June 21, when Make Music New York brings over 1000 free performances (not a typo) to spots in all five boroughs. You can plot out a schedule for yourself with info from MMNY’s website, or just pick an area, wander around and spontaneously discover live music of a vast variety of genres for yourself. Free.

There’s also a slew of free concerts in parks across the city, all summer long. Highlights include the New York Philharmonic on June 12, 13, 14 and 15, recitals by up-and-coming singers from the Metropolitan Opera on June 11, 13, 27 and 29, New York City Opera performing an hour-long rendition of Madame Butterfly on June 13. Two more notable outdoor orchestra concerts are Ensemble LPR in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the nightclub Le Poisson Rouge on June 12, and the venerable Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on June 26.

Indoors, an annual series rich with musical offerings is Chelsea Music Festival. This year (June 8 -16) the festival focuses on the music and legacy of JS Bach on the 333 anniversary of his birth, and features a marathon concert of the master’s works lasting 333 minutes on June 9. Other programs feature music by Aaron Jay Kernis (the festival’s composer-in-residence) among others, with performances by the cellist Matt Haimovitz, Barkada Saxophone Quartet, and many other artists. Tickets on sale at the festival’s website.

Orchestra of St. Luke’s has finished its concert regular season, but continues making chamber music in its Facets of Brahms Festival June 5 – 24 at Merkin Concert Hall, Morgan Library and Museum, and Brooklyn Museum. Tickets via OSL’s website.

On Sunday mornings, Gather NYC hosts concerts, coffee and conversation at Subculture. Percussionist Shane Shanahan performs on June 3 and cellist Mike Block on June 10. Tickets via Subculture’s website.

Plenty more where that came from. I’ll look forward to seeing you at concerts all around town!

Intimate Venues, Rare Programs

by Gail Wein
May 01, 2018

In this column, I usually highlight events at the major concert presenters, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic. These spots have the biggest concentration of A-List, Can’t Miss performers. But first, today, some recommendations for lesser-known artists and out-of-the way venues.

The Orion String Quartet celebrates its 30th anniversary with a gift to us: all of Beethoven’s string quartets, performed over six concerts. Remaining dates are May 2, 3, 7 and 14. Admission is free.

The Jupiter Chamber Players are an-all-too-well-kept secret. Their season of two dozen concerts at Good Shephard Presbyterian Church features solid performances, excellent programs and great players. They’ll wind up this season with Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms performed by a roster that includes the violist Paul Neubauer and cellist Christine Lamprea.

The Flea Theater recently moved to a new location in Tribeca. In addition to edgy off-off Broadway productions, the venue presents some unusual concert offerings. The early music group ARTEK combines the two art forms in “Artemisia”, a one-woman show that features live Baroque music, on May 15, 17, 19 and 20. ARTEK also gives two more traditional concerts there on May 16 and 18.

One of the longest-running series in New York is the People’s Symphony. It’s one of the most economical, too. People’s Symphony winds up its 118th season with Dover String Quartet on May 5 and Brahms all-star sextet on May 12, both at Washington Irving High School. One of the longest-running new music marathons (okay, that’s a bit of a niche category, but, still…30 years), the Bang on a Can Marathon brings us 10 hours of continuous live performances on May 13. Admission is free.

And now, as promised, some big-venue highlights:
In May, Carnegie Hall presents Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (May 4 and 5), Les Violons du Roy (May 5), pianists Emanuel Ax (May 10) and Yuja Wang (May 17), and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (May 17 and 30).

Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series brings to the stage the London Symphony Orchestra with conductor Simon Rattle (May 4, 6 and 7), cellist Sol Gabetta (May 12) and Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (May 19).

A couple of highlights of the New York Philharmonic’s 175th season in May include two programs led by the conductor Semyon Bychkov: Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (May 17, 18, 19, and 22) and Luciano Berio’s groundbreaking Sinfonia (with the vocal group Roomful of Teeth) paired with Richard Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony (May 24, 25 and 26).

Well? What are you waiting for? Get out there and hear some live music!

An Early Music Spring

Gail Wein
April 02, 2018

According to the organization Early Music America, March is Early Music Month. But there are so many excellent Baroque programs happening in April, I think that we have an entire season – Early Music Spring – going on in New York City.

For early music in New York, look no further than the Music Before 1800 series. Their offerings this month celebrate the 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. On April 8, the vocal group Stile Antico performs Victoria’s motets, and on April 22, the Choir of Corpus Christi Church performs Victoria’s “Missa O magnum mysterium” and sacred works by Guerrero and Morales. Both concerts are at Corpus Christi Church near Columbia University.

Another go-to spot for music from the Baroque era is the Morgan Library and Museum They are hosting the harpsichordist Jean Rondeau performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations on April 19, and New York Baroque Incorporated performing music for viols in a “rush hour” concert on April 24.

The long-lived group Four Nations Ensemble brings a series of intriguing programs to Merkin. On April 9, they’re joined by pianist Spencer Myer in a program of music inspired by the art of Antoine Watteau by Couperin, Rameau, Debussy, Ravel and others.

The Juilliard School has an outstanding Historical Performance program, and this month they present Rameau’s first opera, "Hippolyte et Aricie." Performances are on April 17, 19 and 21 at Sharp Theater at Juilliard.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art brings us early music programs in two very appropriate spaces this month, as part of their Met Live Arts series. "Missa Papae Marcelli" by Palestrina will be performed by The Clarion Choir and Brass Consort from The Clarion Orchestra at the Met's reverberant Medieval Sculpture Hall on April 6. And on April 15, there is a program designed specifically for the Unicorn Tapestries Room at The Met Cloisters. The concert on April 15 features the counter tenor José Lemos accompanied by lute, harp, flute and vielle. Songs by twelfth-century troubadours intertwine with Renaissance court music that dates from the time of the tapestries.

For other early music concerts this month and throughout the year in New York, check out the Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS) website.

In addition to this abundance of early music performances, I have to also mention a few “unmissable” events this month. The Los Angeles Philharmonic comes to Lincoln Center for two programs conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on April 27 and 29. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble is worth the short trip over the river to NJPAC on April 8, and Kremerata Baltica with pianist Daniil Trifonov come to Carnegie Hall on April 25 and 26.

Happy listening!

Complimentary Tickets

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

Musical | High-energy musical

Regular Price: $75
CFT Member Price: $0.00

Play | London's West End and Broadway actors in a true story in American history

Regular Price: $51
CFT Member Price: $0.00

Classical Music | Piano works by Mozart, Scriabin and more

Regular Price: $20
CFT Member Price: $0.00
Join the Club!