Anna Clyne's "The Violin" at Federal Hall
Hauschka, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Samuli Kosminen at Pier 15

New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks 2013

ny philharmonic parks concert

The NY Phil made their triumphant return to the Borough City of Brooklyn (thanks for the correction, Marty Markowitz) last night for the first of their annual series of Concerts in the Parks: a NYC summer institution since 1965. Despite some ominous forecasts, the weather ended up being clear and cool, with fast-moving clouds high above the moderately sized crowd in Prospect Park.

Alan Gilbert led the proceedings, as he often has since his parks concerts debut in 2008, one year before he was appointed music director. (Gilbert actually learned of his hiring backstage during that year's Central Park concert.) Give the guy credit: most NY Phil music directors have typically delegated these outdoor concerts to assistant or guest conductors, but Gilbert has always had great fondness for these admittedly populist shows.

"I grew up coming to these concerts," Gilbert—the son of two Philharmonic violinists—reminded the crowd last night. "This is where I first learned about classical music." The same could no doubt be said of many of the young Park Slope families spread out in the grass.

carter brey and alan gilbert

The program was about as unadventurous as you can get, no doubt designed to achieve the maximum-possible crowd appeal. That's not to say that it wasn't without its pleasures—far from it. Dvořák's Cello Concerto—which, as I learned from the program, Dvořák wrote while he was living on E. 17th St. in Manhattan—featured Philharmonic principal cellist Carter Brey, who dispatched the 40-minute concerto with impressive chops and finesse, if not quite the emotive urgency of some of today's more celebrated cellists

Following intermission, Gilbert led the Phil in another warhorse: Tchiakovsky's Fifth Symphony. From a distance, Gilbert led what seemed to be an energetic, high-octane performance, though it was hard to tell from the unbalanced sound system, which muted the winds and over-amplified the brass. Then again, this wasn't Avery Fisher Hall, and most folks seemed content to have something with which to enjoy their picnic.

The Phil repeats the program at Cunningham Park in Queens tonight, followed by Central Park (Monday, 7/15) and The Bronx (Tuesday, 7/16). On Saturday, they'll also be in Central Park, along with special guests Mariah Carey and Joe Torre, performing an all-American program of baseball- and NYC-themed music for the upcoming All-Star Game. Unfortunately, all of the free tickets have already been distributed, but if you're feeling flush, you can pick up a pair of VIP tickets online.

Alan Gilbert, new york philharmonic

More pics on the photo page.