By Meg A. Parsont
There are few things more relaxing than listening to live music al fresco on a warm spring or summer evening. And if the music happens to be free, well, that’s all the better! On May 21, the West Side Community Garden kicks off a vibrant season of free live music throughout the Upper West Side and we have scouted out dozens of other concerts in June, July, and August. So mark your calendars, pack your picnic baskets, and get set to enjoy great music in some of New York City’s most scenic spots!
West 89th Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue)
On select Sundays in May and June, this lovely garden presents a program of evening concerts; from American jazz to Brazilian traditional, there’s something for everyone. Chairs are provided by the garden so attendees can sit back, relax, and enjoy the music in this enchanting setting.
All concerts run from 6-7:30 pm
Sunday, May 21
Lew Tabackin Trio (American Bebop Jazz)
Sunday, May 28
Michael Walz Quartet (Brazillian Traditional)
Sunday, June 4
Geoff Burke Quintet (American Jazz)
Sunday, June 11
Jorge Glem & Sam Reider (Venezuelan traditional and American folk mix)
Sunday, June 18
Eddy Bourjolly, Gashford Guillaume & Mozayik (Haitian Jazz)
96th Street in Riverside Park by the Hudson River
Each summer, RCTA hosts its beloved Sunset Concert series, featuring a variety of musical acts ranging from jazz and folk to world music. The North lawn is transformed into a village green as groups of friends, families, and neighbors spread out their picnic blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy live music, picnics they have brought, and good company as the sun sets.
All concerts begin at 7 pm.
Ron McClure & Friends
CCB Reggae All Stars
Dusty & The Nomads
Steve Sandberg Quartet featuring Andrea Brachfeld
DeCoster & Dee Who
The Radio Stars
Julie Bluestone Ensemble
Located at the Naumburg Bandshell just south of the 72nd Street Transverse, at the north end of the Mall
Since 1905, the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts—the world’s oldest continuous free outdoor Western music concert series—have filled Central Park’s concert ground with extraordinary music in the iconic Naumburg Bandshell. Seating is on a first come, first served basis, and for those unable to attend, the concerts are broadcast live and streamed on WQXR-FM. WQXR on-air personalities host each concert. Please click here for details on the program for each concert in the series.
All concerts begin at 7:30 pm.
Tuesday, June 13
This Baroque band—an “outstanding young early-music string ensemble” (The New Yorker)—is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century.
Tuesday, June 27
The Knights & Masumi Per Rostad, viola
“One of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products… known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (The New Yorker), The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen, who now serve as artistic directors of this group. Eric Jacobsen, conductor.
Tuesday, July 11
A Far Cry
Called a “world-wide phenomenon by Boston’s WBUR Radio, this self-conducted orchestra is a democracy in which decisions are made collectively and leadership rotates among the players.
Tuesday, July 25
Nosky’s Baroque Band, Aisslinn Nosky, Director and violin solist
Hailed as “superb” by The New York Times, Aisslinn is Concertmaster of the Hayden and Handel Society of Boston and the Bach Akademie Charlotte, and has collaborated with numerous other highly regarded orchestras.
Tuesday, August 1
ECCO: East Coast Chamber Orchestra
Founded in 2001 and drawing from some of the world’s finest orchestras, chamber groups, and young soloists, ECCO is a self-governing organization in which each member is equal and has a voice in every step of the artistic process, from programming to performance.
Philharmonic in the Parks: Central Park
NY Philharmonic, Jaap van Zweden, conductor
Great Lawn, Central Park, Manhattan
Westside entrances: West 81st or 86th Streets at Central Park West
Wednesday, June 14
Starting at 8:00 pm
For more than 50 years, this eagerly-awaited concert has heralded the beginning of summer for many New Yorkers. Pack a picnic, round up some friends, and get there early to grab a good spot to enjoy great music under the stars. This year’s program includes iconic works by Copland, Beethoven, Rossini, and Strauss and introduces pieces by young emerging composers.
Note: Pier i at 70th Street and the Hudson River often hosts musical events. Check here, as the schedule is not yet confirmed.
Please let us know about any other free music on the Upper West Side!