Classical Feed

Summer 2022 NYC Live Music Preview

BRIC Celebrate BrooklynIt's that time again when the music moves from inside to outdoors, and after two years of shutdowns and half-full lineups, everything feels back in full swing this summer. It's about f*cking time! Following is a rundown of some of the highlights.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn (June 8-August 6) The best (mostly) free fest in NYC opens at the Lena Horne Bandshell tonight (6/8) with jazz fusion star Kamasi Washington and his outsized band. Other highlights include the magical singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers (6/14-15), Kronos Quartet and Roomful of Teeth (7/14), and neo-soul legend Erykah Badu (8/5). (Note: both Phoebe Bridgers and Erykah Badu are ticketed benefit concerts.)

SummerStage (June 11-August 31) Central Park's Rumsey Playfield opens this weekend (6/11) with a free show by the legendary Herbie Hancock with trumpeter Keyon Harrold. Other (mostly paid) highlights include a New Orleans blowout led by Trombone Shorty (6/13), George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (6/15), Belle and Sebastian (6/16), Sons of Kemet with Makaya McCraven (7/31 - free), and a two night stand with Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen and Julien Baker (8/20-21).

Brooklyn International Music Fest (June 10-11) This two day festival at Red Hook's Jalopy Theatre highlights the rich and vibrant diaspora of musicians living and working in NYC, from Africa to China and everywhere in between. Tickets and info here.

NY Phil Concerts in the Parks (June 14-19) The Phil's annual parks concerts return after a two-year absence to each of the five boroughs with a program of Wagner, Bruch and Dvořák - along with music by a pair of Very Young Composers - led by Music Director Jaap van Zweden. Followed by fireworks. 

Brooklyn Americana Music Festival (June 24-26) American folk and bluegrass music gets its due at this three day festival, with a Friday ticketed show at Jalopy and free outdoor stages in DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park over the weekend.  

Met Museum Sun Sets (July 1-Sept. 3) The Met's ongoing exploration of electronic music expands to the Cantor Roof Garden this summer with DJ sets on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-9pm. The roof garden bar will be open for drinks and light snacks; admission is free with your museum ticket. As are the sunsets.

Continue reading "Summer 2022 NYC Live Music Preview " »

Weekend Live Music Preview: 5/27-5/30

Death of Classical Hot dogs Hooch and Handel
I know, it's a holiday weekend and a lot of folks are already on their way to the beach or country. But, for those sticking around, there are some solid musical offerings this weekend. Check it out. 

Friday 5/27: Saturday 5/28:

RESCHEDULED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER: Death of Classical's "Hot Dogs, Hooch & Handel" at Green-wood Cemetery, 7pm

Playing on the alliterative success of 2019's "Burgers, Bourbon & Beethoven", Death of Classical brings their insatiable appetite for musical adventure back to Brooklyn's Green-wood Cemetery with this moveable feast that features music by the German-English baroque master, as well as swing jazz by The Grand St. Stompers. Tickets are $65 and includes snacks and a spirit tasting; hot dogs will be available for purchase from several local vendors. 

Lungs of the City: Olmsted's Parks in Music, Prospect Park Boathouse, noon

2022 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, America's first and greatest landscape architect. Responsible for urban oases from New York's Central Park to Portland's Forest Park, Olmsted's projects are still celebrated for their graceful melding of the natural and manmade. Inspired by his most celebrated designs, eight composers have created new music, to be performed by the American Wild Ensemble at another of Olmsted's designs, Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Admission is free.  

Gamelan Kusuma Laras at the Indonesian Consulate, 7pm

For those who've never heard the minimalist, trance-inducing sounds of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra, this is an opportunity to experience one live without having to travel halfway around the world. This "klenèngan" is an informal jam session, where audience members are welcome to come and go throughout the night. Advance tickets ($10) are sold out, but walk up patrons will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis after 8:30pm (The event goes until 11pm).

Sunday 5/29: 

Benefit for Ukraine at Roulette, 5pm

There's been no shortage of benefits for Ukraine over the past few months, from the Met to Carnegie Hall. But, for its sheer breadth of starry talent, this show at Brooklyn's Roulette - curated by the tireless composer/performer/producer John Zorn - is hard to beat. Just check out this lineup: in addition to Zorn's own New Masada Quartet, there will be sets by Bill Frisell and Julian Lage, longtime Zorn collaborator Cyro Baptista and Glossolalia, Laurie Anderson (performing with Zorn), Arturo O'Farrill, Joe Lovano, and not one but two of the world's great violinists: Leila Josefowicz and Hilary Hahn. And, unlike those uptown venues, Zorn's benefit will only set you back $50.

(Frisell also performs with his trio at Roulette on Saturday 5/27; tickets and info here.)

Monday 5/30:

New York Philharmonic Free Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 7pm

The Phil returns to the majestic Cathedral of St. John the Divine for its 30th annual Memorial Day concert, with Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducting George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and La Mer, and the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und IsoldeAdmission is free, with tickets distributed starting at 5pm. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Music in Time of War: Vienna Philharmonic Returns to Carnegie Hall

Vienna Philharmonic, Yannick Nezet-Seguin Carnegie Hall, February 2022(Photo: Steven Pisano)

"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." - Leonard Bernstein, November, 1963

In dark times such as this, when the world is confronted with the prospect of war, when millions are struggling for their very survival, going to a concert may feel a bit superfluous. But, music - and classical music in particular - has always been a powerful source of solace, of catharsis, of articulating things we are incapable of expressing. ("Music begins where words cease," said Jean Sibelius.) In 1963, the New York Philharmonic performed Mahler's 2nd Symphony on national television after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; in 2001, the Boston Symphony performed Berlioz' Requiem at Carnegie Hall a few weeks after 9/11. Most recently, the Met Opera - having been dark for 18 months - reopened their stage on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with Verdi's Requiem, dedicated to both the victims of 9/11 and COVID-19.

When the Vienna Philharmonic booked their annual visit to Carnegie Hall this past weekend - their first appearance here in three years - it was meant to be a celebration, the latest sign that things are returning to normal post-COVID. They were supposed to have been led by the celebrated Russian conductor Valery Gergiev in programs of mostly-Russian music, including Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, and Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto, to be played by fellow Russian Dennis Matsuev.

And then, everything fell apart. After weeks of build up, Russia's military invaded Ukraine last Thursday, inviting the ire of most of the Western world. Almost immediately, Gergiev and Matsuev - both allies of Russian president Vladimir Putin - were removed, a joint decision between Carnegie and the Vienna Phil that circumvented planned protests both in and outside the hall. The fallout for Gergiev has since extended to his dismissal as Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic, his being cancelled from performances of The Queen of Spades at La Scala, and being dropped by his managers.  

Fortunately, there was a ready replacement for Gergiev: Met Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who was already in town to conduct Verdi's Don Carlos at the Met. Yannick has a longstanding relationship with the Vienna Phil dating back to 2010, and was familiar with all of the repertoire they were scheduled to perform. Finding a replacement for Matsuev proved to be considerably more challenging: pianists who can play the Rach 2 on short notice don't exactly grow on trees. Enter Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, who got the call at his home in Berlin, Germany barely 24 hours before the performance. After agreeing to take it on, Cho spent all night rehearsing in a hotel lobby, hopped a 7am flight to New York, and had just enough time for a sandwich and a quick rehearsal with the orchestra before going on. Considering Cho hadn't played the Rachmaninoff in three years - not to mention this was his Vienna Phil and Carnegie Hall orchestral debut - the results were pretty impressive. (You can hear the performance for yourself here.)

Continue reading "Music in Time of War: Vienna Philharmonic Returns to Carnegie Hall" »