Photo: Freddie Collier
Bryant Park Picnic Performances The Town Hall: Eighth Blackbird Celebrates John Cage
First-Come, First-Served Entry
All Bryant Park Picnic Performances Are FREE
Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America continues on August 29 with a special concert featuring Grammy Award-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird performing a tribute to The Town Hall’s 1958 John Cage Retrospective. The program offers a rare chance to see two of Cage’s prepared piano pieces played live: Cage, Sonatas & Interludes and Cage, First Construction. Eighth Blackbird founding member Matthew Duvall says that “reinterpreting the iconic 1958 Town Hall John Cage performance is going to be an extraordinarily fun show. I’m excited to revisit works from the 1958 program with new perspectives, as well as curate new connections. One aspect of Cage’s genius was meticulously constructing composition to fervently guarantee unexpected outcomes. Eighth Blackbird is just as curious as the audience will be to see what happens.”
Attendees may bring their own food or purchase from on-site food and beverage vendors near the Lawn. At most performances, attendees can purchase food from a rotating line-up of local NYC vendors curated by Hester Street Fair. COVID-19 vaccinations and masks are not currently required but Bryant Park will continue to monitor and follow updated New York City and New York State COVID-19 guidelines throughout the summer as necessary.
The 2022 Picnic Performances season is possible due to the generous support of Bank of America. “Bank of America is a long-standing supporter of the arts because we believe that a thriving arts and cultural community benefits both society and the economy,” said José Tavarez, President, Bank of America New York City. “So we are thrilled to once again sponsor Picnic Performances and combine our commitment to the arts with our partnership with Bryant Park. Together we’re helping New York City’s iconic cultural scene to thrive, while promoting green spaces and providing free access to live New York City music, dance and theater.”
The Town Hall:
Eighth Blackbird Celebrates John Cage
Eighth Blackbird, hailed as “one of the smartest, most dynamic ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune), began in 1996 as a group of six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory students and continues today under the leadership of founding members Lisa Kaplan (executive director) and Matthew Duvall (artistic director).
Eighth Blackbird has won four Grammy Awards for Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance over its 23-year history and has become “a brand-name defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality” (Detroit Free Press). It has commissioned and premiered hundreds of works by established and emerging composers, including Steve Reich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet and works by Andy Akiho, Bryce Dessner, Michael Gordon, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, David T. Little, Nico Muhly, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Julia Wolfe, and Pamela Z. Through performances in its Chicago home base and at venues across the U.S. and around the world, Eighth Blackbird has brought innovative presentations of works by living composers to tens of thousands of music lovers.
The ensemble’s extensive recording history, primarily with Chicago’s Cedille Records, encompasses more than a dozen acclaimed albums. Its most recent release is Singing in the Dead of Night, written for Eighth Blackbird by Michael Gordon and Pulitzer Prize winners David Lang and Julia Wolfe. Other collaborations with some of today’s most well-regarded artists include heralded performers such as Dawn Upshaw and Jeremy Denk, seminal composers such as Philip Glass and Nico Muhly, and genre-fluid composers and performers Dessner, Oldham, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond frontwoman Shara Nova, and Iarla Ó Lionáird of The Gloaming.
Complete Bryant Park Picnic Performances
August 26: Habibi Festival: Firas Zreik Trio, Esraa Warda and The Châab Lab, and Yacine Boulares’s AJOYO with Special Guest Malika Zarra
August 29: The Town Hall: Eighth Blackbird Celebrates John Cage
September 2: New York City Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor
September 8: Steinway Artists Aaron Diehl and Orrin Evans
September 9: Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents Summer Camargo Sextet
September 16: Accordion Festival: Heart of Afghanistan, Ukrainian Village Voices, Balaklava Blues, and Cinco12: The Music of Selena
September 17: American Symphony Orchestra
About Bryant Park Corporation
Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a private not-for-profit company, was founded in 1980 to renovate, finance and operate Bryant Park in New York City. BPC is funded by income from events, concessions, and corporate sponsors, as well as an assessment on neighboring properties, and does not accept government or philanthropic monies. In addition to providing security, sanitation, and horticultural services, BPC offers restaurants, food kiosks, world-class restrooms, and a wide range of free events throughout the year. The Midtown Manhattan park is visited by more than 12 million people each year and is one of the busiest public spaces in the world. BPC’s website, bryantpark.org, offers more detailed information and a schedule of upcoming events.
About The Town Hall
The Town Hall is a 1,500-seat national historic landmark venue in the heart of New York City, created by suffragists in 1921 and host to countless cultural and musical milestones. Town Hall. Richard Strauss and Isaac Stern made their US debuts at Town Hall. Marian Anderson gave her first New York recital there. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker debuted bebop to the world at Town Hall. Margaret Sanger was arrested for daring to speak to an audience of men and women about birth control. Bob Dylan performed his first major concert at Town Hall. America’s Town Meeting of the Air was one of the most celebrated and influential public discussion shows of the twentieth century, and featured guests as diverse as Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, Richard Nixon, and Jackie Robinson. Town Hall continues to be a forum for the people—a welcome home of expression, education and exploration. In recent history, Town Hall welcomed Gilberto Gil, Joan Baez, Stephen Colbert, Jack White, Patti Smith, Larry David, Tig Notaro, Garrison Keillor, Ray LaMontagne, Ira Glass, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. We welcome the Prairie Home Companion, New York Comedy Festival, and TED Talks. We welcome debuts and old favorites, tributes and experiment, collaborations and conversation. Town Hall welcomes thousands of public school children every year who participate in the Town Hall Arts in Education program.
Follow Bryant Park
Location and Subway Directions:
Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Take the B, D, F, or M train to 42nd Street/Bryant Park; or, take the 7 train to 5th Avenue.