The Best Performing Arts Talks Coming to NYC This Spring

By Alison Durkee

Go behind the scenes of NYC’s music and theatre realm with our picks for the best performing arts talks coming up this spring. Highlights include a Hairy Ape for the 21st century, Barry Lyndon with a live orchestral score, and the centennial of jazz.

Music fans have plenty to look forward to this spring. Catch some newor, rather, oldmusic at concerts featuring Irish tenor Ronan Tynan (March 11) and piano concertos from New York Concert Artists Worldwide Debut finalists (March 11), or settle in for an evening of music from Handel, Vivaldi, and other classical greats at Handel and the Voice on March 17 and 18. Those looking for more variety can check out MoMA PS1 and Other Music’s Come Together: Music Festival and Label Market on March 26, which will celebrate local and international music communities through performances, films, workshops, and panels. The Morgan Library will hold a festival of their own on March 31. The festival, which is focused on Swedish culture in conjunction with the exhibition Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden, will include performances of Swedish jazz and folk music by Flugelhorn player Oskar Stenmark and pianist Billy Test.

To hear from some notable musicians share more about their work, head to conversations with superstar Pakistani musician Sanam Marvi (April 5), Grammy award winner Gary Clark Jr. (March 22), and musician Peter Silberman (March 15), who will discuss how his loss of hearing affects his music. Composer Mason Bates will be on hand to discuss his first opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (above), in a conversation with other members of the creative team as part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process series on April 9 and 10.

New Yorkers can also use this spring as an opportunity to learn more about a uniquely American musical genre: jazz. Jazz at Lincoln Center will continue their Jazz 101 series with upcoming sessions on offshoot styles of jazz like Hard Bop and Free Jazz (March 15) and jazz in the 21st century (March 29). One Day University will  host its own session on the history of jazz on March 13. Families, meanwhile, can bring the kids to learn more about the form from jazz singer LeeOlive Tucker, who will present songs and stories about the great female singers of African-American cultural music at a children’s event at Revolution Books on March 18.

The Hairy Ape

Of course, there’s also another distinctly American art form that can’t be forgotten: musical theatre. To learn more about the bright lights of Broadway, head to Symphony Space’s Project Broadway week of events, which will include Kicking and Screaming: An Evening of Broadway Song and Dance (March 27), featuring world premiere music and choreography from Broadway talent; a first-look concert featuring three new musicals in development (March 31); and a discussion on famed composer Richard Rodgers (April 2). The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will host some Broadway legends this spring at their event reuniting original cast members of A Chorus Line (March 23) and a discussion with legendary producer Hal Prince (May 8).

Theatre fans, of course, also have plenty of other events to look forward to beyond Broadway musicals. Celebrate theatre luminaries of the past at events exploring the work of playwright and historian Howard Zinn, who will be honored at a Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) event featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Marisa Tomei and more (March 21); Swedish playwright Stig Dagerman and his work Marty’s Shadow (March 21); and 19th century Shakespearean performers Edwin Booth and Edwin Forrest (April 10). To hear more about current productions on the New York stage, head to discussions with the cast and creators of The Hairy Ape at the New York Armory (March 31) and director/playwright Robert Lepage (March 14), who will discuss his new solo work, 887 Murray Avenue, Quebec City, Canada. Those holding tickets to select performances of playwright Annie Baker’s new work The Antipodes at Signature Theatre can also stay for post-show talkbacks on various dates.

To bring the worlds of stage and screen together, several upcoming film screenings will offer live musical accompaniment. A screening of Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman will feature a live score by acclaimed vintage jazz group Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (March 10), and a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon will be accompanied by the 50-piece Wordless Music Orchestra on April 8. To see a silver screen star (and recent presidential impersonator) live, head to an event with Alec Baldwin, who will launch his new memoir Nevertheless: A Memoir at BAM on April 9.

Dance lovers won’t be left out in this spring’s performing arts offerings. Gibney Dance will be among the hosts of Create NYC, a symposium and town hall focused on the relationship between cultural organizations and the city (March 22). Those looking to explore dance’s past can head to the NYPL’s continuing “The Dance Historian Is In” series, which will feature a session on modern choreographer Jose Limon on March 29. The 92nd Street Y will continue their own dance talk series, Fridays at Noon, with a session on Dance and Disability on March 31, and the organization is also currently hosting their Harkness Dance Festival through March 25.

The city’s most renowned ballet companies, the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, will offer behind-the-scenes looks of their own this spring as part of the Guggenheim’s Works and Process series. NYCB will demonstrate more about their music in a conversation with the company’s musical director Andrew Litton (April 23), while ABT will offer a preview of their new work, Whipped Cream by Alexei Ratmansky (April 30 and May 1). Both companies will also take to the stages of Lincoln Center this spring for their spring seasons. Those hoping to catch dance performances that are a bit more off-the-beaten-path, however, can instead head to performances by the Laura Pawel Dance Company (March 17 and 18) and Zimbabwean-born choreographer nora chipaumire, who will perform her performative lecture self – un – contained (above), focusing on the representation of black identities in a digital world, at a free performance at Lincoln Center’s Rubinstein Atrium (April 13).


New York moves fast. Don’t miss a thing. Sign up for Thought Gallery’s weekly Curriculum, the best of smart NYC delivered right to your inbox.