It's Memorial Day weekend, which means it's time for the music to head outdoors into the parks, piers and schoolyards throughout the five boroughs (and beyond). As is our catholic, omnivorous nature here at FoM, our picks for the summer of '17 rolls everything up into just two categories: Free (or mostly free) and Not Free. Don't forget your sunblock.
Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 7-August 12) The city's best outdoor music series returns to the Prospect Park Bandshell for its 39th year on June 7 with a free show by Brooklyn soul rockers Lake Street Dive. Other highlights from the worlds of indie, folk, jazz and world music include Yeasayer, Poliça and Cymbals Eat Guitars (June 22), Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spalding (July 28), Béla Fleck (August 3) and Youssou N'Dour (August 12). Not to mention benefit concerts by Conor Oberst, Sufjan Stevens, and Fleet Foxes.
Summerstage (June 3-September 2): This sprawling series reaches into all five boroughs with a potpourri of shows that run the gamut of rock, opera, R&B and more. Highlights include the Met Opera Recital Series (June 12-24) the Robert Glasper Experiment (June 25), and a Fela Kuti tribute with Roy Ayers and Seun Kuti (July 16).
NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 13-18): Alan Gilbert has made it a hallmark of his tenure as the NY Phil's music director to conduct the annual parks concerts himself, which have typically been handled by a string of B-list guest conductors. (Gilbert grew up in NYC, and says the parks concerts were formative experiences for him.) Bring your blanket and come cheer Alan one last time as he closes out his eight-year run with an American-flavored program of music by Bernstein, Gershwin and Dvorák (the "New World" symphony). Followed by fireworks, of course.
Make Music New York (June 21): Celebrate the longest day of the year with this citywide musical happening, with performances on street corners and in the parks. Grab an instrument and join in!
Warm Up at MoMA PS1 (July 1-September 2): Now in it's 20th year, the summer's best outdoor dance party returns to Long Island City with ten Saturdays of DJ's and live acts performing in the courtyard of MoMA PS1. Tickets ($18-$22) include museum admission. (LI City residents get in for free.)
Lincoln Center Out of Doors (July 26-August 13): This year's Damrosch Park season includes performances by Angelique Kidjo (August 2), Rumer w/special guest Dionne Warwick (July 29), Nick Lowe (August 5), and a tribute to Pauline Oliveros (July 28).
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (August 24-27): The summer winds down with the 25th edition of this always-superb free weekend of jazz, which this year expands to four days with the Anat Cohen Tentet, Lee Konitz, Terry Lyne Carrington, Tia Fuller, Lou Donaldson, Joshua Redman, and others.
Governors Ball (June 2-4): Kicking off the summer festival season, this scrappy festival returns to Randall's Island for it's 7th edition with an eclectic lineup including Chance the Rapper, Lorde, Phoenix, Car Seat Headrest, and more. Single day tickets are close to sold out, but full weekend passes remain available (for a whopping $335, not including ferry pass).
Northside Festival (June 8-11): Filling the gaping hole left by the still-unexplained disappearance of the CMJ Music Marathon, Northside returns to Williamsburg for the 9th year with a mix of shows and panels including sets by Dirty Projectors, Kamasi Washington, Timber Timbre, Julia Holter and Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. Sunday, June 11 brings a free afternoon show to McCarren Park that includes Thursday, Pup, Hoteller and others; RSVP here.
Panorama (July 28-30): After dropping the ball with All Points West eight years ago, Goldenvoice - the folks behind Coachella - seems to have found its New York groove, returning to Randall's Island for the second year with what looks to be the summer's best lineup, including Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest, Tame Impala, Solange, Nine Inch Nails and Alt-J. Single day and weekend passes available.
Opera Theatre of St. Louis (May 20-June 25) : I'll be returning to St. Louis for the first time in five years for this ambitious festival, which has made a name for itself by presenting new operas by American composers alongside some of the staples of the repertory. This year's festival includes the U.S. premiere of Philip Glass' The Trial, based on Kafka's novel, Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath, and Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito.
Lincoln Center Festival (July 10-30): Music typically plays second fiddle on this multidisciplinary festival to ensembles like the Bolshoi and Paris Opera Ballets, but there are plenty of worthwhile offerings including an evening with electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick (July 20-22), a collaboration between Chinese fusion singer Gong Linna and the Bang on a Can All Stars (July 14-15), and a mini-festival devoted to free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman (July 11-16).
Mostly Mozart (July 25-August 20): This year's offerings include Hans Zender’s orchestral reimagination of Schubert's “Winterreise,” (with tenor Ian Bostridge) and Iván Fischer leading the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Mozart's “Don Giovanni”, alongside contemporary offerings from Sō Percussion and International Contemporary Ensemble.
Tanglewood (July 7-August 27): With Andris Nelsons about to start splitting his time between Boston and Leipzig, this may be the last chance concertgoers in Lenox get to see the BSO's music director in any sort of prolonged fashion. Nelsons opens the Tanglewood season on July 7 with Mahler's 2nd, and leads a total of ten concerts, including a concert performance of Das Rheingold (July 15) and an evening of film music in which he shares the podium with John Williams (August 19). Other highlights include the annual Festival of Contemporary Music (August 10-14 ) and three mornings of bird walks followed by performances of Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques by pianists including Pierre Laurent-Aimard (July 27-30).
Bard Summerscape (June 30-August 20): The highlight of this annual Hudson Valley festival is the Bard Music Festival (August 11-20), which each year focuses on the music of a particular composer. This year, it's Chopin, so you can expect to hear lots and lots of piano music, as well as offerings by Chopin's peers, such as Stanislaw Moniuszko’s rarely performed 1858 opera “Halka.”
Newport Jazz Festival (August 4-6): For the first time in its 64 year history, the Newport Jazz Festival will be led by someone other than George Wein, as he hands over the reins to the seemingly omnipresent Christian McBride. McBride is casting a wide net at Fort Adams State Park, including everyone from Snarky Puppy and Vijay Iyer, to Branford Marsalis and Benny Golson. No doubt the Weinmobile will still be seen patrolling the premises.