It’s been over a year since Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and other iconic New York performing arts venues went dark. But artists are creative by nature. So, during that time, choreography, composing, performing, and practice continued like the rest of life – in new and surprising ways. Now, warmer weather brings flowers, hatchlings and hope. It’s time for rebirth. Outdoor performances are being planned, and not just street corner pop-ups (though keep an eye out for them, too).
The American Symphony Orchestra will present a series of nine free chamber music concerts through May 19 at either Bryant Park’s Fountain Terrace or at 34th St. Herald Square Plaza. They’ll feature contemporary Mexican, Afro-Cuban, jazz and classical programs performed by ASO musicians. A limited number of first-come, first-served socially distant seats will be available. Each concert starts at 5:30 pm, and will last about an hour. Current health rules must be followed. With selections from Ellington, Gershwin, Poulenc, Strauss, Bernstein, Chavez and more, there’s something for everyone. It’s been a long time coming; get ready for some joyful sounds, happy musicians, and delighted audiences. The performances will also be streamed digitally, and the full schedule can be found on ASO’s website.
Uptown, Lincoln Center just announced an unprecedented spring season titled “Restart Stages.” Expect the unexpected as the Josie Robertson Plaza goes green. Hilly, grassy lawns surround the fountain, and a new outdoor stage has been built. It’s all part of Lincoln Center’s plan to welcome audiences safely, support the community, and bring performers and audiences back together. Ten new open-air spaces, both on the Lincoln Center campus and across the five boroughs will be hosting music, dance, drama, and special events like graduation ceremonies, recitals, food distributions and blood drives.
“The Green” as the updated plaza is called, was designed by Mimi Lien and officially opened on May 10 with a blessing ceremony from Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lunaape and the Redhawk Native American Arts Council. Martha Redbone followed, and Broadway star Norm Lewis capped the evening. And that’s just the beginning. Throughout May, there will be jazz and chamber music, storytelling and dramatic performances. A schedule of the events is available on RestartStages.org and all programs through May will be free. Tickets will be distributed through a lottery via TodayTix.com.
“We’re heading into the heart of the First Act, so-to-speak, in our efforts to harness the energy and creativity that make New York one of the most exciting places to live and be,” stated Henry Timms, President & CEO of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Meanwhile, across town, Marymount Manhattan College is preparing for its own artistic renaissance. With a recent $25 million grant from The Carson Family Charitable Trust, work is beginning on a new center for visual arts. The grant, the largest in the college’s history comes from Judith Mara Carson and her husband, Russell L. Carson, supporters of both the college and the arts. The Carson gift allots $15 million to the new visual arts center, and $10 million for scholarships for Marymount students, 80% of whom major or minor in a creative field. Creativity has always been a defining and driving force in New York.
“The contribution of the arts to daily life, community well-being, and the national economy is indisputable yet under-appreciated,” said Ms. Carson, who graduated from Marymount, adding “The visual arts in particular spark dialogue, bring people together, and drive economic development.”
It seems like ages since the curtains dropped. It may be a while before they lift again in theaters full of people. Meanwhile, outdoors will do just fine. Mostly, we just want a great show.