Concerts and Music
When you think about New York in the summertime, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more iconic image than sitting in Central Park with the sounds of music wafting through the air.
Whether you like more organized music performances or impromptu jams, you’ll find it all in New York's Central Park.
If you’re heading to the park exclusively to hear music, you’ll probably want to prepare ahead of time. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular venues in the park.
SummerStage – Free Performances for All Types of Music Fans
More than 25 years ago, SummerStage was founded to provide a free music venue in the park from June through September. Today, SummerStage brings more than 100 performances to 18 New York City parks every year; however, the Central Park SummerStage is still by far the most popular. The venue hosts all different kinds of music, from salsa to reggae to rock to opera.
Whatever your tastes, you will likely find music to your liking at some point during the season at SummerStage! If you’d like to check out a schedule of performances, you can find a sortable schedule at: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/calendar/. SummerStage is located at Rumsey Playfield, which is located on the east side of the park near the entrance at E. 69th St. and Fifth Ave.
Naumberg Bandshell – A More Classical Touch
Another venue where you can listen to music is the Naumberg Bandshell, which is located mid-park between 66th and 72nd Streets. Originally on the site of the Naumberg Bandshell stood another structure which was built in 1862 exclusively for classical music. The modern Naumberg Bandshell has continued that tradition of hosting classical music performances, though it has also played host to more popular music over the years. You can see the schedule of the Naumberg Bandshell’s performances at www.naumbergconcerts.org.
Sandbox Programs – Fun for the Little Ones
If you’re taking the kids to Central Park, the Sandbox Programs will help keep them entertained by getting them to move and groove. The programs feature everything from sing-along music to dance performances to story-time shows that will keep them enthralled. These programs take place between the hours of 11:00 and 2:00 during the week at different playgrounds throughout Central Park. You can view a schedule of the Sandbox Programs at http://www.centralparknyc.org/assets/pdfs/programs/sandbox-schedule-2012.pdf.
Impromptu Music for Summertime Strolls
Listening to street performers while you stroll through the park can sometimes feel like you’re listening to your iTunes Digital Jukebox on shuffle. There are a wide variety of tunes and melodies wafting through the air, and you can suddenly switch from rock to reggae in a matter of steps. One of the most famous street performers is David Ippolito, also known as “That Guitar Man from Central Park.” On his website, David says he generally starts at 12:30 each day and ends when the sun goes down. You can view his schedule online at http://www.thatguitarman.com/.
Of course, there are other street performers in Central Park as well, but some of the most popular venues for watching them have now been designated as quiet zones. One of these zones is the Bethesda Terrace, which had long been hailed by performers for its great acoustics. There are now eight quiet zones in the park which, in addition to Bethesda Terrace, include Conservatory Garden, Conservatory Water, East Green, Shakespeare Garden, Sheep Meadow, Strawberry Fields and Turtle Pond. So if you need a little break from all the music that you’re hearing, these areas will provide you with the respite that you need.
Overall, no matter what your musical tastes, you will likely be able to find performances that please your auditory senses. While some of the more organized music shows only take place during the summer, many of the street performers will continue throughout the winter months, so you can feel free to visit Central Park any time of the year to hear sounds that will delight your ears.
-By Kathryn Sucich
Kathryn Sucich is a freelance writer and an appreciator of good music. She believes that much like a retro Coke machine, oftentimes music can transport you to a different, happy time, even if only for a few brief, blissful moments.