Except for five years — three in the 60s, one later related to budget issues, and one year a few years ago due to park reconstruction — the Washington Square Music Festival has brought “world class music” to Washington Square Park for 55 years. Every year, the festival gets stellar reviews.
This is the third season on the “new” Garibaldi stage (opposite Garibaldi statue). The stage does not work nearly as well as the stage that existed before the park’s redesign (in the raised area known as “Teen Plaza”). There is too low a stage, no railing, no backstage, and no shade from trees but the Music Festival is making the best of it and finding ways to compensate. (Note: all these issues could have been addressed and were brought up to the park re-designer and the Parks Department along the way – to no avail.)
Last year, the festival only performed two concerts at the park due to issues they encountered the previous season, their first on the new stage. They are back to four concerts this year.
The Music Festival begins Tuesday, July 9th and continues for all four Tuesdays in July: July 16, 23, 30. 8 p.m. start time, seating is first come, first served, and free. In the event of rain, the music festival moves indoors to St. Joseph’s Church, 371 Sixth Avenue (between Washington Place and Waverly Place).
July 9: Baroque in the Park: The Judgment of Paris, a Baroque opera by John Eccles, conducted from the harpsichord by Kenneth Cooper with five vocal soloists and chamber orchestra, and a concerto for three trumpets by Georg Telemann.
Paris’ witty libretto in English tells the well-known story: Mercury gives the shepherd Paris the golden apple of Discord, telling him to award it to which goddess he finds most beautiful. Juno, Pallas and Venus all vie for his attention, but Paris can only choose one. The result caused the Trojan War.
July 16: A Musical Adventure: Featuring Margaret Leng Tan a foremost performer of new piano music and the world’s first toy piano virtuoso performing the U.S. premiere of the chamber version of a toy piano concerto written for her by British composer Michael Wookey. Also works by Jed Distler, Richard Strauss and Adolphe Blanc.
July 23: Verdi and Wagner and Spohr and Rheinberger: a celebration of 19th Century music for winds and strings including Verdi String Quartet and Paul Hindemith/Wagner The Flying Dutchman Overture for String Quartet.
July 30: Music of East Africa featuring Nepo Soteri, guitarist, singer and composer who survived the Rwandan civil war. His music is directly influenced by the raw rhythms and stylized sounds unique to such African countries as Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, from which spring the roots of American jazz. Preceding the concert in the afternoon, will be a children’s interactive rhythm workshop with African musicians.
More information: Washington Square Music Festival The Washington Square Music Festival is “under the auspices of” the Washington Square Association.
Top photo: Sally J. Bair
2nd photo: Nan Melville