Photo Credit: Chris Lee
Free Music, Theater, and Dance Events on the Bryant Park Lawn Presented by Bank of America
Season Features Events in Partnership with Renowned NYC Arts Institutions
Bryant Park Corporation announces the 2023 lineup for its summer performing arts series, Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America. Twenty-six live music, dance, and theater events will take place at Midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park between June 1 to September 14. All shows are free to the public and designed to be enjoyed casually – no tickets required – with more than five hundred picnic blankets for audience members to borrow and ample chairs available.
Picnic Performances has grown into one of the foremost outdoor performing arts festivals in New York City. Last summer more than 75,000 people attended the series, and nearly half a million watched the free performance livestreams. Picnic Performances has become a vital outdoor platform for New York’s arts institutions including longstanding partners like Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Joe’s Pub, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The 2023 season features world-class local artists as well as performers from as far away as Italy, Colombia, Turkey, Finland, and South Africa.
Bryant Park Corporation’s President Dan Biederman says, “Thanks to Bank of America’s support, Picnic Performances has become an established venue for major cultural events. There is no easier way to experience NYC’s extraordinary music, theater, and dance: just come to Bryant Park, grab a free blanket or chair, and enjoy.”
“Bryant Park Picnic Performances are a staple of the New York City summer and cultural scenes,” said José Tavarez, President, Bank of America New York City. “We believe that the arts are a unifying force that promote cultural understanding, and are proud to continue our support of one of the most iconic green spaces in the city.”
2023 season highlights:
- New York City Opera opens the season (6/1) with a one-night-only, staged, and costumed production of Puccini’s La Bohème with orchestral accompaniment. Later, New York City Opera brings fully staged, dressed and live music-supported productions of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (8/18) and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (9/8), as well as a concert of Italian favorites with tenor Alessandro Lora (8/19)
- Jazzmobile, celebrating its 59th anniversary, returns with the 19-member The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra and an evening of non-stop dance music (6/2)
- Major dance companies and rising stars perform over four evenings of Contemporary Dance in June. Performers include Robin Dunn and a multi-artist dance celebration of hip hop’s 50th anniversary, Dance Heginbotham, Soles of Duende, Josh Johnson, Terk Lewis, and Kayla Farrish
- Up-and-coming bands perform at the annual Emerging Music Festival (6/23, 6/24). Artists include Katy Kirby, Miss Grit, THUS LOVE, Psymon Spine, Ky Voss, Seramic, and Dead Tooth
- Carnegie Hall Citywide presents five nights of music, featuring six-time Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (7/7), violinist-fiddler Tessa Lark and composer-bassist Michael Thurber with special guest Louis Cato (7/14), an album-release show with renowned Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera featuring chamber orchestra The Knights (7/21), Champe-Soukous Collective (7/28), South African vocal group and America’s Got Talent finalist Ndlovu Youth Choir (8/4)
- Jalopy Theatre curates a three-part folk festival with bluegrass headliners Michael Daves Quartet Ft. Tony Trischka, Malian kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko, and lap steel guitarist Terrell King (6/30)
- Ailey II, the renowned and dynamic second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, returns to Bryant Park as part of the second annual Ailey Moves NYC! (8/3)
- Obie Award winning, Emmy Award nominated songwriter and performer, Shaina Taub leads a special night of music in partnership with Joe’s Pub (8/11)
- Accordions Around the World brings a lineup of woman-led bands with Colombian cumbia and vallenato from Latin-Grammy nominated Diana Burco, an all-female Ragini Ensemble from Brooklyn Raga Massive, and Finland’s Suistamon Sähkö and their high-energy and experimental dance music (8/25)
- Roulette Intermedium celebrates their 45th Anniversary with a program of renowned artists who got their start at the venue (8/26) including 75 Dollar Bill, Ka Baird, and a jazz artist TBA
- The Classical Theatre of Harlem stages a riveting, abridged version of the musical Langston in Harlem, celebrating the Harlem Renaissance through Langston Hughes’ poetry
- Leon Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra in a program highlighting the different forms of expression and musical languages that emerged following World War I such as dance, theater and jazz (9/7)
- Drom marks the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic with the U.S. Debut of Istanbul-based psych-rocker Gaye Su Akyol (9/9)
- The season closes with a Harlem Stage 40th Anniversary Celebration performance featuring a major jazz artist TBA (9/14)
More than 20 shows from the 2023 season will be livestreamed for free on Bryant Park’s social media channels and website, reaching national and international audiences. Additional media support is provided by public radio stations WBGO and WQXR.
Attendees may bring their own food or purchase from on-site food and beverage vendors near the Lawn. At all performances, attendees can discover new dishes and celebrate classics from the five boroughs with a rotating line-up of local artisanal vendors curated by Hester Street Fair. Stout NYC offers giant pretzels, gourmet popcorn and other light bites as well as a selection of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.
Additional artist and performance information will be available in the coming months. For the most current information please visit bryantpark.org/picnics.
Bryant Park Picnic Performances 2023 Programming Details
New York City Opera
New York City Opera opens the 2023 season of Picnic Performances with a star-studded La Bohème. Puccini’s unmatched gift for melody adds remarkable poignancy to the simple joys and heartbreaking sorrows of a group of young Parisians in this universally popular classic. Conducted by Maestro Joseph Rescigno and accompanied by members of the New York City Opera Orchestra, this world-class production, offered free of charge in Bryant Park, is not to be missed.
The Barber of Seville
New York City Opera’s Bryant Park summer series continues with a family favorite The Barber of Seville. Gioachino Rossini’s sparkling music animates the hijinks of Figaro, opera’s most famous barber. This crowd-pleasing production is fully staged and will feature members of the New York City Opera Orchestra.
Alessandro Lora in Concert
Tenor Alessandro Lora joins the New York City Opera Orchestra for a special concert of Italian favorites in Bryant Park on August 19, free and open to the public. Conducted by Maestro Diego Basso.
Romeo and Juliet
City Opera’s 2023 Bryant Park series concludes with Romeo and Juliet. Gounod’s perennial favorite opera brings Shakespeare’s play to life through some of the most beautiful music in the French repertoire. Accompanied by members of the City Opera Orchestra, Ekaterina Siurina and tenor Won Whi Choi will star along with City Opera Music Director Maestro Constantine Orbelian at the helm.
The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra
Trumpeter Steven Oquendo brings his 19-musician big band and some highly danceable Latin jazz
Created in 2009 and led by distinguished trumpeter, jazz historian, and music educator, Steven Oquendo, The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra (SOLJO) is a force to be reckoned with. This bold big band is made up of 19 superbly talented guardians of Latin music. SOLJO’s repertoire features Afro-Cuban palladium era salsa mambo and salsa classics that pay homage to the genre’s originators, while simultaneously injecting a fresh interpretation that has intrigued and captivated new fans of all ages and backgrounds. SOLJO’s sophisticated use of free improvisation, dissonant harmonies, fusion rhythms, and creative arrangements has dispelled stereotypes surrounding Latin music and Latin Jazz and ensured that the essence of the music continues to thrive.
SOLJO’s members hail from all five boroughs of New York City and beyond, and members have individually performed with a wide array of international artists, including Ray Santos, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Cheo Feliciano, Machito, Tito Rodriguez, Wynton Marsalis, Hector Lavoe, Benny Golson, Eddie Palmieri, Jon Faddis, Marc Anthony, Dave Valentín, Arturo Sandoval, Destiny’s Child, Candido Camero, Bobby Sanabria, Juan Luis Guerra, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Barretto and a host of others. SOLJO has been featured at a variety of venues, including the David Rubenstein Atrium, Pregones Theater, Lehman College, Hostos Community College, the infamous Spanish Harlem 111th street “Old Timers” festival, the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, Jazzmobile Concert Series, Jazz Power Initiative, and the Sugar Hill Music Festival.
Contemporary Dance Curated by Tiffany Rea-Fisher
Thursday, June 8 at 7PM
Robin Dunn + Legendary Friends, Additional Artists TBA
Multiple dance artists celebrate Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary on the Bryant Park stage
Creative Director, Choreographer and F.A.C.E. Coach Robin Dunn teams up with her legendary friends Buddha Stretch and Mr. Wiggles to create a memorable celebration of Hip Hop dance in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. They have worked with celebrity artists from the likes of pop culture icons Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Missy Elliot to rock stars like U2. Robin is the former Director of Amateur Night at the world famous Apollo Theater as well as being a former member of the world renown Fatback Band. Buddha Stretch is a current member of the well respected Mop Top and Elite Force dance crews and Wiggles continues to honorably represent his crews Rock Steady Crew and Electric Boogaloos. Robin, Buddha Stretch and Mr. Wiggles made history in 1989 by being the first to introduce the art form of Hip Hop dance at New York’s Broadway Dance Center. They continue to travel the world performing, teaching at dance institutions and universities, sharing their individual stories honoring the culture, history and art form of Hip Hop dance. What these longtime friends and colleagues have in common is their passion for Hip Hop dance and commitment to showcasing it with excellence.
Friday, June 9 at 7PM
Dance Heginbotham + TBA
Dance Heginbotham (DH) is a New York-based contemporary dance company committed to supporting, producing, and sustaining the work of choreographer John Heginbotham. With an emphasis on collaboration, DH enriches national and international communities with its unique blend of inventive, thoughtful, and rigorous dance theater works. Founded in 2011, DH has shared the stage with artists such as Maira Kalman, Ethan Iverson, Colin Jacobsen, Joshua Bell, the National Symphony Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, Brooklyn Rider, and The Knights. DH had its world premiere in 2012 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has since been presented by Arts Brookfield, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carolina Performing Arts, Duke Performances, Harkness Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Vail International Dance Festival, among others. In 2016, DH toured to Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines as cultural ambassadors of the United States with DanceMotion USA.
Terk Lewis + Kayla Farrish
Two rising stars in contemporary dance, Terk Lewis and Kayla Farrish
Terk Lewis began his formal ballet training at the age of 17 with Tony Calucci at The Dance Extension in Columbus, OH. He then went on to earn his BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University. He then went on to join Eisenhower Dance Detroit where he performed in works by Laurie Eisenhower, Stephanie Pizzo, Eddy Ocampo, and Joel Hall. Lewis went on to join Complexions Contemporary Ballet under Artistic Directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. While with the company for seven years he had the opportunity to perform works by both directors, as well as Jae Man Joo, William Forsyth and Marcelo Gomes. Lewis became an artist in residence with the company in 2017. Lewis went on to dance in Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC (Choreographed by Camille Brown) and perform in Peter Pan and Rock of Ages at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. Most recently, Lewis danced in the Lin Manuel Miranda Feature Film In The Heights, at the Met Gala (Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler), and in the Musical Series Up Here on Hulu (Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh). As a choreographer, Lewis assisted Jae Man Joo while creating Circular for Ailey II and also assisted Jill Johnson on choreographing the opera Crossing that premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He has choreographed his own commissioned works for The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, The Steps Conservatory, The Joffrey Ballet School, Black Boys Dance Too (Presented by Bryant Park NYC), and Western Michigan University.
Kayla Farrish is a Black American Director merging dance-theater, filmmaking, narrative, and sound score. She captures ranging identity, the mythical dualities of history and present survival, and powerful dreaming lending to liberation. Her commissions include Gibney, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Danspace, Pepatian, Little Island, Harlem Stage, Blacklight Summit and beyond. Some works formed: Black Bodies Sonata, The New Frontier: My dear America, Sunny Side/Inside the Laughing Barrel, December 8th, Martyr’s Fiction, and others. She creates live works, films, site-specific/immersive, and collaborations. She recently shared Choir (Carrie Mae Weems Exhibition), To Dream A Lifetime (BlackLight), Roster with Melanie Charles, MIXTAPES with Alex MacKinnon and site-specific Broken Record (Little Island) with Brandon Coleman, and Rinsing and Harbor films. Presenting spaces include Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, Symphony Space, and National Sawdust, among receiving support from Watermill Center for the Arts, Armstrong Now, Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, Baryshnikov Arts Center, La Mama Theater, and others. She received the Sundance Uprise Grant for Emerging BIPOC Directors, Bessie Awards for NYLA’s Motherboard Suite and December 8th-Gibney, NY Times Top 2021 Dance Performances – Roster and Breakout Star. She is a recipient of the Harkness Promise Award for 2022. During 2022, she was a Rehearsal Director for Punchdrunk Sleep No More, and adjunct faculty for NYU Tisch Dance.
Soles of Duende + Josh Johnson
A night featuring two of New York’s extraordinary percussive dance artists, Soles of Duende and Josh Johnson
A Brooklyn-born Puerto-Rican from New Haven, a Mexican Puerto-Rican Jew from the Lower East Side, and a Bengali Indian from Jersey walked on to the wooden floor and the rest? History. Bonded by their deep love of music, their crafts, and true connection, Soles of Duende is on a lifelong mission to elevate the joy and music of true collaboration across disciplines and the celebration of the forms they practice. Based in the sounds of Tap (Amanda Castro), Flamenco (Arielle Rosales) and Kathak (Brinda Guha), Soles of Duende’s fire is the spirit that lives within each of these women to celebrate their connection given their beautiful differences and to uplift the forms that made them.
Josh Johnson is a Harlem native, who tap-danced on the trains of New York City to pay for college at Penn State University. The New York Times and Reader’s Digest have covered his amazing story of hard work, persistence and positivity. Since Spring of 2012, Johnson has appeared in many Jazz Clubs of New York City, keeping in the tradition of the African American tap masters such as The Nicholas brothers, The Berry Brothers, the Original Hoofers and The Copasetics; and performing for audiences big and small. Johnson plays gigs anywhere from The Cotton Club to The Blue Note. From the Village Vanguard to the New Victory Theater and the world-famous Box Theater of Varieties in lower Manhattan. Johnson has been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and has made multiple appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He’s been a Red Carpet Correspondent on the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and has been featured on Dancing with the Stars in an AT&T spotlight Performance. Johnson is a young man on a mission to inspire and delight audiences – both young and old. His story of persistence, hard work and positivity brings smiles, tears of happiness and encouragement to audiences all over the world.
Emerging Music Festival Curated by Ad Hoc
THUS LOVE, Psymon Spine, Katy Kirby
Bound by circumstance, identity, and creative spirit, three trans multi-instrumentalists founded THUS LOVE in 2018 in Brattleboro, Vermont. But the shared experience of Echo Marshall (she/her), Lu Racine (he/they), and Nathaniel van Osdol (they/them) runs much deeper, tracing its roots to poor, rural towns where it was difficult to find communities to call their own. That feeling of loss and solitary longing has also, paradoxically, cemented their powerfully close connection in THUS LOVE. The band lived together in a one-bedroom apartment above downtown Brattleboro during the entire recording process of their debut album, Memorial, with Marshall cordoning off a room to build a studio from scratch. Musically, THUS LOVE combines their love of post-punk with a loose, eclectic experimental streak that owes as much to van Osdol’s jazz collection as it does to Marshall’s classical training as a cellist. The band is unafraid to tackle weighty themes with startling intimacy and vulnerability — and with a goal of amplifying the voices of those who continue to struggle. Says Marshall: “What I hope we’re able to accomplish with THUS LOVE is to redirect opportunities to those who haven’t had them and to create communities in the kinds of places where we grew up. We want them to know they’re not alone.”
Psymon Spine’s origins date back to Noah Prebish and Peter Spears meeting in college and finding common ground in their artistic aims: “We wanted to make something that was experimental, but also accessible and satisfying,” Prebish states while discussing the thrust of the band’s origins, citing influences like Talking Heads and Os Mutantes along with the rush of the New York City dance scene. Eventually, Brother Michael joined Psymon Spine, as the trio hashed out the demos for what would become their 2017 debut You Are Coming to My Birthday. “We’ve always wanted to make people feel good with our music, but challenge them too,” Spears explains. And Psymon Spine continued on that aesthetic mission by becoming figures in the Brooklyn dance scene through throwing the immersive art and dance parties of the Secret Friend series. Meanwhile, Prebish’s work in dream-pop band Barrie—who broke out in 2019 with the excellent debut Happy to Be Here following a string of buzz-making singles—led him to meet singer and multi-instrumentalist Sabine Holler, who eventually joined Psymon Spine’s ranks after they both parted ways with the rest of Barrie.
Katy Kirby is a songwriter and indie rock practitioner with a writerly focus on unspoken rules, misunderstandings of all kinds, and boredom. Kirby was born, raised, and homeschooled by two ex-cheerleaders in small-town Texas, where she started singing in church amidst the soaring, pasteurized-pop choruses of evangelical worship services. After high school, Kirby moved to Nashville, where she managed to graduate college with a rapidly expanding circle of artistic allies, an amorphous collection of leftist beliefs, and a few handfuls of songs. After a series of painful failures to complete a record that reflected the temperament of those songs, Kirby finally turned to dear friends and co-conspirators to form a band capable of constructing a satisfying full length.
Ky Vöss, Seramic, Miss Grit, Dead Tooth, and TBA
Ky Vöss is an New York City-based American producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. By use of stark contrasting lyrics, striking visuals, and synthesized melodies Vöss walks the line between otherworldly and deeply human in a playful concoction of carbonated synth-pop and nostalgic soundscapes.
Having so far released two critically acclaimed EPs (Found and I Got You), Seramic (Marcus Foster) showcases a powerfully unique and varied range of influences, which has led the Sunday Times to state that his sound is a mix of “Prince meets D’Angelo meets Tom Waits meets Joe Cocker.” Combining his love for Prince, gospel, & soul singers of the 70’s and 80’s mixed with 90’s hip hop & RnB, Seramic’s infectiously catchy songs infuses tradition and innovation, creating a bold, fresh, and distinctive sound, that lifts you up, makes you want to move and can’t help put a smile on your face. Armed with an army of new singles, films, EP’s and with an album on the way, describing this new body of work as “Bill Withers on acid,” 2023 is set to be a big year for Seramic. “The new revolution is coming.”
New York-based musician Margaret Sohn (they/she) created Miss Grit to function as an outlet for their own analysis and expression of self. Called a “polymath” by NME in early 2019, their process is introspective, their vision precise. Sohn produced Follow The Cyborg, her debut full length album, entirely in her home studio, and mostly in solitude with several guest collaborators joining — Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Aron Kobayashi Ritch of Momma, and close friend and fellow songwriter Pearla.
After an early stint drumming and singing in Haybaby (Tiny Engines), Zach James began writing and self-producing folk records in his bedroom, donning the name The Silver Spaceman. The project evolved into a post-punk band featuring Andrew Bailey (DIIV) on lead guitar. It snarled and simmered around darker textures, miles away from its early folk routes. James looked to his darkened smile and rechristened the project Dead Tooth. They gained momentum opening for bands like Hand Habits, The Space Lady and Current Joys. After recording their second EP entitled Pig Pile, the pandemic disembodied the band as it did so many others. Sad, yet ambitious to keep the momentum going and release the EP, James rebuilt the project from the ground up. He added an EWI/Sax player and relinquished his own live guitar duties for a frontman stage persona. The new crew was quickly picked up by Rough Trade Publishing and Trash Casual Records. Shortly after, they went on to win OWL Winter Madness (a 16 band, 5-week-long “battle of the bands” at Brooklyn’s legendary rooftop venue Our Wicked Lady). They then found themselves playing SPIN Magazine’s SXSW showcase alongside The Lemonheads, Bass Drum of Death and Pom Pom Squad. SPIN wrote of SXSW, “If there was someone who really broke out … it was Brooklyn’s Dead Tooth.”
Michael Daves Quartet Ft. Tony Trischka, Yacouba Sissoko, and Terrell King
Heralded as “a leading light of the New York bluegrass scene” by The New York Times, Georgia-born guitarist/singer Michael Daves has garnered attention for his work with Tony Trischka, Steve Martin, and Chris Thile, with whom he shares a Grammy nomination for their 2011 album Sleep With One Eye Open. Daves’ unruly interpretations of American roots music standards have won him a place of almost fanatical admiration as a “renegade traditionalist.” His most recent project is the double album Orchids and Violence, which renders identical track lists in contrasting bluegrass and experimental electric styles. Tony Trischka is considered to be the consummate banjo artist and perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 45 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians with the many voices he has brought to the instrument. He’s been nominated twice for a Grammy award, at both the 40th and 50th annual Grammy ceremonies. He won three awards at the 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association gathering, including Recorded Event of the Year and Banjo Player of the Year. The quartet will be rounded out with mandolin phenom Jacob Jolliff (Bela Fleck, Yonder Mountain String Band) and bassist Erik Alvar.
Master kora player Yacouba Sissoko devotes his musical gift to expand the awareness of West African history and culture, spread the word of peace, and empower his listeners to take charge and realize their imagined futures. His performances have a magical effect on audiences as he skillfully transforms traditional songs and stories that he learned from his forefathers into modern day messages of peace, love, and harmony. His flexible virtuosity, which enables him to move seamlessly from one musical genre to another, has attracted the attention of an array of musicians who have sought him out as a collaborator – Sissoko has recorded with a variety of artists including Paul Simon, Baaba Maal, Ami Koita, Regina Carter, Leni Stern, and Abdoulaye Diabate. All the while, Sissoko exposes new audiences to the enchanting sounds of the kora, a 21-stringed instrument that is plucked and produces a distinctive sound that is quickly associated with West Africa. Sissoko has performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC; the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles; the New York Family Arts Festival; and many more. Also recognized for his educational contributions, Sissoko was selected as a Teaching Artist by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall and Carnegie’s Musical Explorers program in 2007. Sissoko continues to blend his virtuosity effortlessly with other musical styles, whether in Indian ragas or Appalachian tunes. Currently, Sissoko can be seen performing regularly with Regina Carter and his own band, SIYA.
Terrell King, a Brooklyn native, is an awe-inspiring, young, multi-talented musician and 3rd generation lap steel guitarist. King has appeared on many stages and played many services; he was the pedal steel guitarist in Always Patsy Cline in Weston, Vermont, and plays every Sunday at The House of God Church (Keith Dominion). King has played with musicians such as The Campbell Brothers, Lonnie “Big Ben” Bennett, Miller and the Other Sinners, and recorded an EP with Sacred Steel Records. For this performance in Bryant Park, King will play alongside his family band, which includes cousins Teione Noble (rhythm guitar), Tim Williams (bass), and Tim Allen, Jr. (drums).
Carnegie Hall Citywide
Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
The multi-Grammy-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) is an 18-piece big band of jazz and Latin-jazz virtuosos led by the inimitable Arturo O’Farrill. With roots in Latin jazz traditions trailblazed by great like Tito Puente and Mario Bauzá, and with an equally keen ear for the music’s future, the ALJO has spent the past two decades thrilling audiences with its impeccable ensemble playing, showstopping soloists, and expansive repertoire—including works by Arturo and Chico O’Farrill.
Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber
Tessa Lark, Violin
Michael Thurber, Bass
with Special Guest Louis Cato, Guitar and Vocals
American folk and European classical styles come together with virtuosity, playfulness, and a contagious sense of curiosity in the hands of violinist-fiddler Tessa Lark and composer-bassist Michael Thurber. In music that ranges from works by J. S. Bach to a variety of bluegrass, jazz, Appalachian music, folk songs, and improvised works, their seamless musical partnership has delighted audiences at Caramoor, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and beyond. For this special performance in Bryant Park, they are joined by special guest Louis Cato, the Grammy-nominated guitarist and vocalist widely recognized as the bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Magos Herrera featuring The Knights
Celebrating the release of her latest album Aire, Mexican jazz singer Magos Herrera performs with her phenomenal sextet and chamber orchestra The Knights. Herrera is “one of the great modern singers of our time” (Latin Jazz Network), who “stretch[es] the very notion of jazz singing … into a sound that’s bold, thrilling, and effortlessly global.” Her latest recording features original compositions (commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works) as well as selections from the Great Latin American Songbook. Written largely during pandemic isolation and now performed live for audiences in Bryant Park, Aire has become “a way to reach out … to heal each other by coming together and celebrating our humanity with compassion and gratitude.”
Magos Herrera, Vocals
Ingrid Jensen, Trumpet
Vinicius Gomes, Guitar
Matt Penman, Bass
Alex Kautz, Drums
Gonzalo Grau, Percussion
Colin Jacobsen, Artistic Director and Violin
Eric Jacobsen, Artistic Director and Conductor
Friday, July 28 at 7PM
Enjoy the Afro-Colombian dance-music fusions of a newly formed all-star group—Champe-Soukous Collective—in this free Bryant Park performance. Forging a transatlantic connection between Colombian champeta and its source music—Central Africa’s Belle Époque–era, Congolese soukous-rumba—the ensemble includes the core of Colombia’s “champeta champions,” Tribu Baharú; soukous guitar legend Nseka Huit Kilos; exceptional vocalists from both Colombia and Central Africa; Oscar El Kike Banquez on horns; and more.
Ndlovu Youth Choir
Ralf Schmitt, Conductor
Hailing from South Africa with powerhouse vocals, dazzling choreography, and irresistible pop-music sensibilities, the Ndlovu Youth Choir has brought hope and joy to countless fans around the world. It recently became the first choir ever to reach the finals of America’s Got Talent, and the group continues to enchant global audiences with pulsating African rhythms and electrifying energy.
Ailey Moves NYC
An evening of dance from renowned early-career dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Ailey II—the Next Generation of Dance—is the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Comprised of the most promising early-career dance talent in the country, the company, led by Artistic Director Francesca Harper, is renowned for its dynamic performances, rigorous touring schedule, and community programs. Founded by Alvin Ailey in 1974, Ailey II serves as a bridge from the classroom to the stage for these artists and continues to propel each generation forward.
This performance is part of Ailey Moves NYC!, a summer celebration of dance featuring free activities for all ages across the five boroughs including performances by Ailey II, dance classes and workshops led by Ailey’s Arts In Education and Ailey Extension teachers and musicians, and the participation of students from the acclaimed Ailey School. Ailey is thrilled to bring dance to our fellow New Yorkers throughout the city!
Renowned performer and songwriter Shaina Taub leads a special night of music.
Shaina Taub is an Obie Award winning, Emmy Award nominated songwriter and performer. She is an artist-in-residence at Joe’s Pub and at the Public Theater, where she wrote and starred in Suffs, garnering Drama League, Drama Desk and Lortel Award nominations. Her three solo albums include Songs of the Great Hill, a debut release on Atlantic Records. She created and starred in critically acclaimed musical adaptations of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and As You Like It at Free Shakespeare in the Park, as part of their community-based program, Public Works. Those adaptations have now received hundreds of productions worldwide. She has written songs for Sesame Street, Julie’s Greenroom starring Julie Andrews on Netflix, Central Park on Apple TV and the opening number for the 2018 Tony Awards. Her songwriting collaborators include Sir Elton John, Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban and Rachel Bloom, and her songs have been performed by Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster and Ariana DeBose. She was in the original Off-Broadway casts of Hadestown and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 and , and co-starred in Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s Old Hats Off-Broadway, featuring her original songs. She is a winner of the Kleban Prize, the Fred Ebb Award, the Jonathan Larson Grant, and the NYCLU’s Michael Friedman Freedom Award for her activism. She’s a member of the Resistance Revival Chorus, the Working Families Party’s Artist Council, and co-chairs the NYCLU’s Artist Ambassadors.
Accordions Around the World Curated by Ariana Hellerman
Diana Burco, Suistamon Sähkö, and Ragini Ensemble
This year’s festival features women-led projects: Burco’s Colombian cumbia and vallenato, Finland’s folk-electronic group Suistamon Sähkö, and music of the Indo-Caribbean diaspora with an all-female Ragini Ensemble in partnership with Brooklyn Raga Massive
A rising star of the explosive and multidimensional Colombian music scene, Diana Burco is a singer, songwriter, and accordion player. Burco has played and investigated Colombia’s traditional music since she was a child. She has traveled throughout Colombia searching out the country’s varied forms and expressions, and has studied and collaborated with the masters that interpret them. This deep cultural fluency and her own wide-ranging contemporary explorations mark Burco as a 21st century troubadour charting an original path rooted in her country’s rich heritage. Burco has participated in programs and platforms around the world including One Beat Colombia, Ethno World and MAPAS (Artes Performativas del Atlantico Sur). She made her debut U.S. tour in March, 2022.
The Arctic Etnotekno Act Suistamon Sähkö from Finland gains momentum gig by gig and cheerfully moves through ethno techno and smoke shack sounds to the world of hip hop like the genre hybrid they are. The group favors a boisterous rave atmosphere, synthesizer buzz, rap declarations and a Soviet-made accordion and makes the audience jiggle and the cottage floor shake. The Suistamon Sähkö rhythm universe is a rambunctious mix of primitive primordial force and experimental dance music. In addition to Finnish stages, the Suistamon Sähkö spark has also flown to international arenas in e.g. Germany, France and Russia. During their short existence, the group has published three albums and a dozen music videos which have attracted attention. Suistamon Sähkö was selected as the opening act of the notable World Music Expo Womex Tampere 2019 and as the showcase act of the Folk Alliance International New Orleans, USA, in early 2020. In 2022 the band performed as part of globalFest meets Tiny Desk.
Exploring a merging of diasporic songs, matrilineal folk songs and beat-driven celebratory chutney anthems, the Ragini Ensemble – in partnership with Brooklyn Raga Massive – gathers songs born out of the South Asian diaspora spread wide, fragmented and reforged in Reunion Island, Guyana and Trinidad. Speaking, or rather singing into the aesthetic body of work defined by the “Coolitude” movement, this set is inspired by the legacy of post-indentureship collective memory, nostalgia and reclamation of joy in the gathering to sing, itself a cultural practice known as “baithak gana” – an intimate act of sitting (or dancing) together in song. Tabla player/electronic artist Roshni Samlal, violinist/looper Natie, harmonium player/singer Pratima Doobay, and dholak player/singer Kajol Ji re-envision the sounds of their homeland and history.
75 Dollar Bill, Ka Baird, TBA
Artists celebrate the 45th anniversary of renowned experimental arts organization and venue, Roulette Intermedium
75 Dollar Bill was formed in 2012 in New York City by percussionist Rick Brown and guitarist Che Chen. Played on a deeply resonant plywood crate, Brown’s earthy, elemental rhythms are both the foundation and foil for Chen’s ecstatic, modal guitar style. The group’s electric, richly patterned music can shape shift from joyful dance tunes to slowly changing trance minimalism, an uncategorizable hybrid which draws on the modal traditions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Sun Ra’s space chords and the minimalist and No Wave histories of their hometown. While Brown and Chen are always at the band’s core, the band frequently expands into different configurations live and on record. Their Little Big Band is a multigenerational, multicultural orchestra that includes old friends and collaborators Sue Garner (bass), Cheryl Kingan (saxophones), Talice Lee (violin/keyboard), Steve Maing (guitar), Jim Pugliese (percussion), Karen Waltuch (viola), Barry Weisblat (percussion/electronics) and others.
Ka Baird is a musician, performer, composer and sound designer based in New York City. They are known for their live performances which include extended voice and microphone techniques combined with electronics and psychoacoustic interplay of flutes and other woodwinds. They create a present tense sound with a vigorous, ritualistic delivery that seeks extreme release through physical exertion and psychic extension. They have worked/collaborated with many other musicians, artists, filmmakers and choreographers, both in structured compositions and in their dedicated practice of improvisation and interdisciplinary work. They have performed extensively throughout the USA and Europe including: Unsound (Krakow, PL), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY), Issue Project Room (Brooklyn, NY), The Kitchen (NYC), KRAAK (Brussels, BE), and Le Guess Who (Utrecht, NL). They have been an artist-in-residence at We Jazz (Helsinki, FI), Sonoscopia (Porto, PT), Inkonst (Malmo, SE), Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago, IL), and Pioneer Works (Brooklyn, NY). They have been a recipient of the Foundation of Contemporary Art’s Emergency Grant, a Jerome Foundation Artist-In-Residence through Roulette Intermedium, and is currently a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow through 2023-25.
The Classical Theatre of Harlem
Langston in Harlem
In an abridged restaging of Langston In Harlem, the poet Langston Hughes takes us on a journey back through his life, using his own words in poetry and song to depict his struggles as a black artist and as a black man. Through music, dance, visuals, and spoken word, this theatre piece strives to capture the poet’s essence. Written by Walter Marks, directed by Carl Cofield. Cast to be announced.
American Symphony Orchestra
Leon Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra in a program highlighting the different forms of expression and musical languages that emerged following World War I such as dance, theater and jazz.
In the years immediately following World War I, the American artistic scene experienced an extraordinary burst of creativity. Responding to the horror and brutality of that war, artists, writers and composers rejected the exalted ideals of the previous century, focusing instead on creating new means of expression, ones that would accurately reflect the realities this new age required. With Jazz, many American composers found a new source of inspiration, one distinctly American, as well as thoroughly fresh, modern and exciting. Some of the works offered in this program reflect this fascination in the Roaring Twenties with this language, with its irresistible rhythmic energy and catchy melodies. Other composers sought to push the boundaries of musical expression with radical, “ultra-modern” languages. Whether by polytonality, jagged counterpoint and asymmetric ostinatos or brash atonality – in which melody, harmony and rhythm are harshly distorted and deconstructed – the experimental impulses of this generation are presented here in its arguably finest exponents.
Gaye Su Akyol (U.S. Debut)
This concert celebrates the music of Anatolia and marks the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic
Gaye Su Akyol is an Istanbul-based musician and artist, born in 1985. In her work, she redefines the concepts of power, desire, change and rebellion, hand in hand in tight-knit solidarity with women, queer and outcast communities, and rebels against societal gender roles, patriarchy, censorship, and oppression. She creates a universe of imagination, in which she constructs her own “counter-reality” against the stifling realities dictated by power. Without alienating from the land she was born into, she questions its representations, defines new symbols, and, while struggling with the complexities and political chaos of the concrete world, she chases after the practice of transforming a conservative world through collective dreaming.
Gaye Su Akyol has created her own unique language, taking the contrasts of traditional Anatolian music, Classical Turkish music, psychedelia, surf rock and post-punk, and combining them with her futuristic approach. Akyol, who, in 2014, released her first album Develerle Yaşıyorum (“I Live With Camels”) in 2014, written and composed entirely by herself, defines her music as “universal in concept, local in spirit.” She expanded her audience through numerous concerts and festivals in Turkey, Europe, Middle East and the Far East, with the release of her first international album Hologram İmparatorluğu (“Hologram Empire”) in 2016, released dually from German-based record label Glitterbeat, and Dunganga Records, a label which Akyol has co-founded with Ali Güçlü Şimşek. She had received rave reviews for her music and creations, from major media publications such as The New York Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Pitchfork, and The Wire. In her third long play, İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir (“Consistent Fantasy is Reality”), released in 2018, a record which she names “a practice of dreaming,” she not only writes and composes the entirety of the album, but also takes on the role of producer in the stages of production, arrangement and recording, and art director to the visual aspect of the record. With this album, she became the first musician from Turkey to be featured on the cover of Songlines, one of the top music magazines in England, and was awarded the “Best Artist” title in 2019.
40th Anniversary Celebration
Harlem Stage kicks off its 40th anniversary festivities with major jazz artist TBA
Complete Line Listings
June 01 – New York City Opera: La Bohème
June 02 – Jazzmobile: The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra
June 08 – Contemporary Dance: Robin Dunn + Legendary Friends
June 09 – Contemporary Dance: Dance Heginbotham and Artists TBA
June 15 – Contemporary Dance: Terk Lewis + Kayla Farrish
June 16 – Contemporary Dance: Soles of Duende + Josh Johnson
June 23 – Emerging Music Festival: THUS LOVE, Psymon Spine, Katy Kirby
June 24 – Emerging Music Festival: Ky Vöss, Seramic, Miss Grit, Dead Tooth
June 30 – Jalopy Theatre: Michael Daves Quartet ft. Tony Trischka, Yacouba Sissoko, Terrell King
July 07 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
July 14 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Tessa Lark + Michael Thurber
July 21 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Magos Herrera featuring The Knights
July 28 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Champe-Soukous Collective
August 03 – Ailey Moves NYC: Ailey II
August 04 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Ndlovu Youth Choir
August 11 – Joe’s Pub: Shaina Taub
August 18 – New York City Opera: The Barber of Seville
August 19 – New York City Opera: Alessandro Lora in Concert
August 25 – Accordions Around the World: Diana Burco, Suistamon Sähkö, Ragini Ensemble
August 26 – Roulette Intermedium: 75 Dollar Bill, Ka Baird, TBA
September 01 – The Classical Theatre of Harlem: Langston in Harlem
September 07 – American Symphony Orchestra: American Expressions
September 08 – New York City Opera: Romeo and Juliet
September 09 – Drom: Gaye Su Akyol (U.S. Debut)
September 14 – Harlem Stage: 40th Anniversary Celebration
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.