The New York Philharmonic is celebrating its 50th year of free summertime performances in NYC parks. The tradition started back in 1965, when Leonard Bernstein was the musical director and Seiji Ozawa was the conductor. The inaugural season, which brought live classical music to parks in four boroughs (sorry, the Bronx), featured Benny Goodman on clarinet—at least 75,000 people showed up for the debut performance in Central Park. Here's an interesting video flashback:
The 2015 series commences Wednesday night, June 17th, in Central Park, with an "all American" program featuring the work of Bernstein (the West Side Story suite), alongside works by Barber, Gershwin, Copland, Anderson, Rodgers, and Sousa. The orchestra returns to the Great Lawn again on Thursday night, when conductor Charles Dutoit leads the Orchestra in Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture; Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3, with Renaud Capuçon as soloist; Stravinsky's Petrushka (1911 version); and Ravel's La Valse, which is particularly rousing:
On Friday night the Philharmonic performs in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, repeating the same program as Thursday night, and then heads to Cunningham Park in Queens on June 22nd, followed by Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on June 23rd, and finally concluding the series with an indoor concert at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden on Staten Island on the evening of Wednesday, June 24th.
All performances, which are free, begin at 8 p.m., fireworks to follow. All the details you need are right here. Keep in mind that these performances are very popular, so if you want to sit remotely close to the stage, you'll want to spread out a blanket early.