Stay classy, New York: Summer treats you to classical musical fare

New York Philharmonic (Credit: Chris Lee)
New York Philharmonic steps out of its usual venue. Credit: Chris Lee

To the many ways you can sit on a blanket this summer and be entertained, add the smorgasbord of free classical – or at least classy – music options in the city. From opera to the Philharmonic to jazz, pack some dinner, a blanket and grab some friends to enjoy – for free! – some of the best talent from the greatest city in the world.

For years, New Yorkers have been marking their calendars for the New York Philharmonic‘s free annual concerts in city parks. Gifting audiences with an array of classical music, the symphony plays in different boroughs almost every night throughout a week, music wafting from the parks as the summer sun sinks into dusk. Some end with fireworks.

All concerts begin at 8:00 p.m.
July 10, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
July 11, Cunningham Park, Queens
July 14: Staten Island Center for the Arts, College of Staten Island
July 15, Great Lawn, Central Park, Manhattan
July 16, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Across the river, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center offers a free outdoor concert series, Sounds of the City, every Thursday night, and last year an estimated 6,000 people attended. The musical selection varies, with reggae to Latin to hip-hop all popping up on the bill, but plan to attend Aug. 15, when the Grammy-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra takes the stage.

NJPAC Theater Square
Newark, N.J.
Thursdays from July 11 to Aug. 29
5 to 10 p.m.

Madison Square Park often hosts quirky art installations in the Flatiron green space, but they also boast jazz among their summer music series. The Anat Cohen Quartet – Cohen was voted Clarinetist of the Year six years running by the Jazz Journalists Association — will perform next week, on June 26. And July 24, Cuban-born Dafnis Prieto’s sextet will play, along with Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry’s quintet. No chairs are allowed, but listeners are invited to settle in with a blanket and picnic.

Madison Square Park
June 26, 7 p.m.
July 24, 6 p.m.

The Metropolitan Opera slots out six free concerts in city parks, beginning in July. The Summer Recital Series offers performances in all five boroughs, starting with a July 16 performance at Central Park’s SummerStage concert program. Three vocalists and a pianist perform at each appearance.

Central Park Summerstage, Manhattan, July 16, 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, July 19, 7 p.m.
Crotona Park, Bronx, July 23, 7 p.m.
Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island, July 25, 7 p.m.
Jackie Robinson Park, Manhattan, July 30, 7 p.m.
Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, Aug. 1, 7 p.m.

Celebrate Brooklyn! provides free outdoor concerts throughout the summer, and this year that includes the Grammy-winning Eddie Palmieri as part of the lineup’s Latin Music Series. Palmieri is a Harlem native and brings along his orchestra, which will perform after Banda Magda.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn
7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison


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