The Best Performing Arts Talks and Events Coming to NYC This Summer

By Alison Durkee

New York City is home to some of the greatest performing arts events in the world, and over the summer these offerings get even better, as festivals and outdoor concerts pop up around the city. Celebrate the city’s arts scene this summer with these upcoming performing arts talks, performances, and events.

Image: Mike Steele/Flickr

Kick off the summer in a musical way by enjoying special Memorial Day concerts at Green-Wood Cemetery’s free outdoor performance or Lincoln Center, where Manhattan Concert Productions will perform Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem. Once the summer gets going, grab a picnic and head out to a variety of other concerts at parks throughout the city, thanks to the New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks series. Central Park will also continue their long-running Summerstage concert series this summer, featuring such artists as the Metropolitan Opera, Elvis Costello, Yo La Tengo, and They Might Be Giants.

Summerstage will also include a few dance performances, including works by BalletX, Malpaso Dance Company, and Company SBB. But dance fans will have plenty more to look forward to this summer: American Ballet Theatre’s season at the Metropolitan Opera House continues through July 8 with a slate of classic and contemporary works, and a variety of festivals will take place this summer, including the Battery Dance Festival (August 13-18), Lumberyard in the City (June 1-July 2), and Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing (June 27 – July 15). In Brooklyn, BalaSole Dance Company will embrace dancers of all backgrounds and sizes in a performance at BAM on June 2 in a performance featuring former Martha Graham principal Miki Orihara. And though Radio City’s high-kicking Christmas Spectacular may still be a few months away, catch a group of former Rockettes and other past Radio City performers taking the stage at Legacy 36 and the Stars on June 3. To learn a bit more about a dance legend of the past, join New York Times dance critic Alastair McCauley at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on May 31 for a retrospective on famed ballet choreographer Frederick Ashton.

Image: Tobiasz Papuczus/The Trojan Women

Dance, music, and theatre will all get a chance to shine at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival (June 14-25) and the Lincoln Center Festival (July 10-30), whose highlights this year include performances by the Bolshoi Ballet, Improbable Theatre, Compagnie XY, and The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv / Ha’Bima National Theatre. Theatre fans can also enjoy the city’s summer tradition of outdoor Shakespeare with performances through The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series on the Lower East Side and Bryant Park residency, as well as the Public Theater’s long-running Shakespeare in the Park, whose 2017 program features Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Musical theatre fans, meanwhile, can take in a wide range of brand-new musicals at the annual New York Musical Festival, which will take place this summer from July 10-August 6. Those who’d rather get a more behind-the-scenes look at theatre, on the other hand, can enjoy upcoming talks with legendary Japanese theatre artist Tadashi Suzuki (May 30), Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel (June 5), and Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandrini (June 26).

New York’s museums will also get in on the performing arts offerings this summer. Take in the sounds of the Lower East Side at a special concert offered by the Museum at Eldridge Street on June 5, or head to the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden for Summer Garden Concerts on June 6, 20, and 27. In conjunction with the exhibition The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, The Jewish Museum will offer a day of performances inspired by Benjamin’s The Arcades Project on June 4, featuring collaborations by poet Kenneth Goldsmith and musician John Zorn.

Music fans wanting to explore a great American style in-depth can do so through Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz 101 series, which will feature upcoming sessions on BeBop (May 30); Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, Free Jazz (June 6); Fusions: Latin Jazz, Third Stream, and Jazz-Rock Fusion (June 13); and Jazz Today (June 30). Learn more about the sounds of the Summer of Love at a special celebrity-studded conversation at the Paley Center for Media on June 6, or take an in-depth look at an extraordinary Neutral Milk Hotel album on June 9. To hear from one of music’s greatest masters, meanwhile, head to the New York Public Library for a conversation with Philip Glass on June 15.

To hear some world-class music for yourself, make plans to attend Symphony Space’s Steinway Salon with Klara Min on June 8, or enjoy the opening night of the World Science Festival (May 30), a cosmic performance featuring such iconic artists as the dance company Pilobolus, violinist Joshua Bell, and opera legend Renee Fleming. Opera fans can also enjoy some cutting-edge work at the New York Opera Fest, which will feature the opera Glory Denied (June 2-10) performed aboard a Vietnam War aircraft carrier, and the Paradigm Shifts Festival (June 13-17), whose programming includes music, opera, and film. To learn more about the history of opera and one of American opera’s greatest feuds, meanwhile, head to the National Opera Center for a lecture on the Politics of American Grand Opera on June 6.

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