Spring and summer in the city just sound different. Catch the buzz with live music indoors, outdoors, or online. It’ll be in the air, all around town, this season.
Rose Theater, The Best of Duke Ellington, June 10–11
What could be better than a night of Duke Ellington music? A night of Ellington at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The closing night of the their season features lively, toe-tapping excerpts from Ellington’s classic songbook, but also from his more “conceptual” and probing works. Big bands don’t get better than this. Catch that swing.
Rose Theater, “American Masters”
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the American Symphony Orchestra is giving a gift to audiences. To keep great music accessible to all, there’s a free concert on June 5 at Jazz at Lincoln Center. “American Masters” features a world premier electric violin concerto by Roberto Sierra. To get the most from the performance, head in an hour early for a 30 minute “Conductor’s Notes” Q&A session with Leon Botstein (also free).
David Rubenstein Atrium Series
A busy, diverse, and fun schedule of free concerts and events is planned through the summer for this intimate venue on Lincoln Center’s campus. Head to the David Rubenstein Atrium on May 6 for “The Dance Floor: Quintero’s Salsa Project.” The music is cool; the dancing is hot.
Composer, saxophonist and bandleader Lakecia Benjamin brings the sounds of her latest album “Pursuance: The Coltranes” on May 12. The New York native, who’s performed with Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys, brings her touch to a collection of pieces composed by jazz greats, Alice and John Coltrane.
On May 19, Kaoru Watanabe performs “Incense,” merging traditional Japanese flute and percussion with action and sensory perceptions in a theatrical experience that’s both meditative and moving.
The Metropolitan Opera, “Madama Butterfly,” through May 7
The tragic geisha’s story never gets old. This time, it’s performed by Soprano Eleonora Buratto with Tenor, Brian Jagde as Pinkerton. The costumes are stunning, the staging is perfection, but it’s Puccini’s music and a timeless romanticism that keeps audiences coming back.
SummerStage Festival, June 4 – August 23
For the sound of sunshine going down, Michael Franti and Spearhead will be on stage on July 3 for a benefit concert. The legendary series kicks off on June 4 with Aurora and continues through June, July and August with headliners like Modest Mouse, and funkmaster and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, George Clinton. The season wraps up on August 23 with The Decemberists.
THE ORCHESTRA NOW
“New Voices from the 1930s” on May 12 presents a group of lesser-known works ripe for rediscovery by William Grant Still, Carlos Chávez, Witold Lutosławski and Karl Amadeus Hartmann in a concert conducted by Leon Botstein at Carnegie Hall.
On May 22 the orchestra is giving a free concert of works by Liszt & Bartok at Peter Norton Symphony Space conducted by Zachary Schwartzman.
92ND STREET Y
The Emerson String Quartet in “The Bach-Mendelssohn Connection,” June 1, opening a series that continues through June 10
After nearly half a century of renowned performances, The nine-time Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet announced last year that this would be their final season. The 92Y welcomes them to Kaufmann Concert Hall to open a special series, “The Bach-Mendelssohn Connection.” Also onstage will be the Calidore Quartet, an ensemble of young musicians mentored by Emerson members. The program, which continues through June 10th with other performers, looks at the wide and lasting influence of Johann Sebastian Bach. Some of the concerts will be presented online as well as live.
Spoken Word and Sondheim Songs
On May 9, playwright, actress and musician Eisa Davis reads from Lucille Clifton’s “Generations,” afterwards talking with Tracy K. Smith, the former U.S. Poet Laureate. On May 12, actress Maggie Siff performs a reading of Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay.” Carson’s poem unfurls in chapter-like verses. Listen for a mother’s wisdom, a woman’s hope, and thoughts on Emily Brontë, captured in snippets of time reminiscent of Virginia Woolf.
On June 18 & 19, the beloved Stephen Sondheim’s songs of love are the focus of “‘Isn’t It Bliss?’ Sondheim On Love.” Tony Award winner Ted Sperling presents an evening of complex, moving, and incomparable songs like “Send in the Clowns,” “What More Do I Need,” and “Not a Day Goes By” to delight the ear and touch the heart. Sondheim sounds will also fill the air on May 22, with “Stephanie Sings The Stephens (Sondheim, Schwartz & Flaherty)” when Broadway star and Tony Award-winner Stephanie J. Block spotlights three of her favorite composers.