Very often, we New Yorkers hear subway performers long before we see them as we traverse through the stations and along the platforms. But on Tuesday, you can watch as some of them audition to play for us as part of the MTA’s Music Under New York program. Also known as MTA Music, the program is now in its 31st year.
Musicians from across the city, Long Island and Westchester County as well as some hailing from New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, will audition at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m.
This year, 82 musicians and groups chosen from 309 applicants will try out for the approximately 20 slots open in the MTA Music roster, which offers performances in 30-high traffic areas of the MTA’s subway stations and commuter rail terminals.
“Music Under New York celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and the application process is more competitive than ever,” MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth said in a statement. “We’re excited to see how this year’s finalists will pour their hearts into performing for the judges and the public to secure a coveted spot in Music Under New York. New Yorkers are the greatest audience in the world, and NYC Subway offers a stage like no other.”
During Tuesday’s auditions, the musicians will have five minutes to perform before a 12-judge panel that includes music industry professionals, members of city cultural institutions, current MTA Music members and MTA staff. Criteria includes quality, appropriateness for the transit environment, musical variety and cultural diversity.
MTA Music currently features more than 350 performers across a multitude of genres and cultures. MTA Arts & Design presents more than 7,500 performances each year and revises the performance schedule every two weeks.