Budget Bliss: Free-Styling at Lincoln Center
With Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the New York Philharmonic in the Parks, and the Metropolitan Opera’s recitals in the boroughs and screenings on the plaza, summer is when we tend to think about free events from Lincoln Center. But here’s a secret that any budget-conscious arts lover needs to know: the free fun doesn’t stop when the temperature drops.
Can’t get enough classical concerts? The Juilliard School offers performances by students and faculty throughout the school year. Want to geek out on backstage Broadway drama? The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is always sharing its enlightening discoveries. Ready to indulge your global, eclectic tastes? The David Rubenstein Atrium is your destination for free concerts spanning world music to contemporary classical, dance parties, talks, screenings, and more.
This winter, Juilliard showcases the rising generation of virtuoso instrumentalists and collaborative pianists at Sonatenabend (December 5, January 23, February 20 at 6:00 pm). Vocalists join for Liederabend (December 10, February 6 & 28 at 6:00 pm). And the popular Wednesdays at One series runs weekly during the school year, featuring hourlong lunchtime concerts by Juilliard artists for the community.
Fans of contemporary classical music flock to Juilliard each January for the innovative Focus! festival. This year’s edition, called On the Air!, celebrates 75 years of international radio commissioning and runs from January 25–February 1. This is all in addition to the free student and faculty recitals, and student ensemble concerts that take place nearly every day that school is in session, as well as the modestly priced seven-concert ChamberFest from January 14-16.
The legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins, currently celebrating his centennial year, is the centerpiece of the winter programming at the New York Public Library for The Performing Arts. The exhibition Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York, open to the public during normal library hours through March 30, is filled with treasures that reveal how New York City acted as a lifelong muse to the choreographer behind Broadway hits such as West Side Story and On the Town and ballet classics like Fancy Free and Dances at a Gathering.
The exhibition has also spawned numerous wraparound events, all free, including Songs at a Gathering: A Sing Along Show and Tell of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway Hits (December 1); An Evening with Mikhail Baryshnikov (December 6), a talk dedicated to Robbins’ ballet masterworks The Juilliard School Focus festival 2019: On the Air! 16 called Robbins’ New York Portraits (December 10), and an expert-led exhibition tour (December 26).
Non-Robbins related free events at the Library for the Performing Arts in December include Shelf Life—a concert of new works by New School students inspired by the library’s collections (December 3), Dixieland Jazz with the Gotham Jazzmen (December 4, 11 & 18), a screening of Harold Lloyd’s 1926 comic masterpiece For Heaven’s Sake as part of the popular Silent Clowns Film Series (December 8), a talk with the award-winning theater poster artist Frank “Fraver” Verlizzo (December 13), Holiday Songbook—a concert featuring new holiday music by Broadway songwriters sung by Broadway vocalists (December 15 & 17), a screening of dance films of choreographer Marius Pepita hosted by The New York Times’s chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay (December 26), and an open jam session inspired by Bach’s Goldberg Variations (December 29). Bring your instrument for that last one!
At the David Rubenstein Atrium, located at Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets, there is truly something for everyone—and all free. In December, composer and pianist Sugar Vendil’s Nouveau Classical Project fuses the worlds of contemporary classical music and fashion (December 6). Russian-born, New York–based musician and composer Ljova presides over an adventurous evening of string music with members of the PUBLIQuartet, Secret Quartet, and special guests (December 13). Iconic brass brand Soul in the Horn closes out the month on December 27. The following month, Trinidad-born trumpet player, percussionist, and composer Etienne Charles presents a show commissioned by Lincoln Center on January 3, followed by the improv music collective Burnt Sugar Arkestra (January 10), the avant-garde Korean band Black String (January 17), and Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Ani Cordero (January 31).
Fans of Latin dance will be thrilled when the Atrium throws one of its famous Members of Burnt Sugar Arkestra Photo courtesy of Shane Nelson Photo ¡VAYA! 63 parties. Grammy-nominated salsera Miss YaYa brings her high-energy mix of urban salsa, merengue, and bachata on December 20. SonSublime summons authentic Cuban charanga on January 24.
For families, LC Kids—our series of performances and events for young audiences and their caregivers—offers free Saturday-morning concerts featuring acts like the soulful, groove-heavy band Shine and the Moonbeams (December 1) and Mali-born, NYC-based singersongwriter Awa Sangho (March 2).
For the lifelong student, the Atrium also hosts numerous informative talks and lectures. In December, baritone Matthias Goerne discusses his role as a leading interpreter of German art song as part of the New York Philharmonic’s Insights at the Atrium series (December 5) and VICE Media hosts a screening and talkback with some of their top reporters on hot-button issues in the news (December 12).
Of course, holiday crowds and frigid Manhattan wind tunnels can deter even the most hardcore arts lover. If a blizzard has you stranded at home, live Etienne Charles Khalid Ibrahim streams become lifelines. Jazz at Lincoln Center has one of the most impressive free streaming operations around, offering hundreds of concerts each year in HD video with a high-quality studio audio mix to jazz fans all around the globe.
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is also an avid webcaster, streaming recitals, master classes, and the always illuminating performance-lecture series Inside Chamber Music with Bruce Adolphe for the enjoyment of music lovers everywhere.
Whether you want to talk about issues or dance your worries away, catch a rising star or a worldclass virtuoso, bring the kids or your instrument, you can keep active this winter at Lincoln Center for nothing more than the cost of subway fare.
Amanda MacBlane is Associate Director of Communications for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.