The New York Jazz Scene: Venues, Festivals, and More

New York Jazz Scene Nothing goes together better than New York and jazz. New York was and is the home to many masters of America’s contribution to the world of music. From the earliest days of jazz, musicians like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and John Coltrane made their mark on New York jazz.

Even today, New York jazz is alive and well. It’s possible to see incredible musicians, both masters and the up-and-coming stars, playing amazing music 7 nights a week. Here are a few of the best places to experience jazz in New York.

On the Radio

To start, there’s always the radio! Many colleges in NY feature jazz shows. Public radio station WBGO broadcasts 24/7 jazz from Newark, NJ and can be heard throughout the city.

Jazz Concerts in New York

From Lincoln Center to Radio City Music Hall, New York is home to some of the finest concert venues in the world. On any night, you can find world-class jazz performed in the many concert halls and clubs throughout the city. Here are some of the best concert venues in the city.

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center – Artistic director Wynton Marsalis has been programming this venue for years. Lincoln Center is acoustically perfect and Marsalis’s knowledge and taste are impeccable.  The 1233-capacity Rose Theatre hosts major national acts. The Allen Room seats 427 to 467 guests and features floor to ceiling windows overlooking Columbus Circle. The smallest and most intimate spot is Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, which seats 80- 140 people.
  • The Iridium – Jazz legend Les Paul had his last weekly residency in this jewel of a concert club. The Iridium features concerts by some of the greatest jazz masters in the world.
  • Birdland – Named for famed saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, Birdland has been in several locations in the 60 years since its opening. This is an amazing space to see jazz legends up close and personal. Diana Krall, Pat Metheny, and Dave Brubeck have all graced the stage at Birdland.

Jazz Festivals

Along with ongoing jazz concerts throughout the city, New York plays host to a variety of jazz festivals all year long. Whatever your favorite flavor of jazz, there’s a festival for you!

  • Jazz in July – The 92nd Street Y hosts this exciting festival. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the festival.  This 10-day extravaganza features some of New York’s favorite players like Jimmy Greene, Jeremy Pelt, Ken Poplowski, and founder Dick Hyman.
  • Blue Note Jazz Festival – June is festival month at New York’s famed Blue Note. This festival brings the top jazz artists from around the world to New York for a month-long celebration of America’s music.
  • Vision Festival – If your taste runs to the more experimental side of jazz, the Vision Festival is for you. This festival has taken place in various venues throughout the city, and past performers have included Steve Lacy, William Parker, Joe McPhee, Peter Brotzman. David S. Ware, and Sam Rivers.

Jazz Clubs of New York

New York jazz is best heard in the intimate confines of the smaller venues around town. These clubs feature national and international acts, but also play host to some of today’s brightest rising stars on the jazz scene!

  • Jazz Standard – This club features great food, amazing sight lines, and impressive line-ups seven nights a week. It’s also home of the amazing Mingus Big Band on alternating Monday nights.
  • Smoke Jazz & Supper Club – In Morningside Heights near Columbia University, this club offers an ultra-intimate jazz listening experience. With just 50 seats, you can feel practically every note.
  • Smalls – This club is a throwback to the comfy, communal jazz clubs of yesteryear. Smalls is the place to see the best up-and-coming artists New York has to offer in a venue that feels like an intimate jazz jam session in your friend’s basement!

In New York, jazz is alive and thriving. No matter what style of jazz you love, you can find it nightly all around the city. And of course, this is only a small taste of what’s available in the Big Apple! Happy listening!

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Concerts in New York: Inside the Classical Music Scene

Classical Music Concerts In New York CityFrom Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven to Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert, every classical music lover has their favorites. Not every city has a vibrant classical music scene, but if you’re lucky enough to live in the Big Apple, you’re residing in one of the most famous classical music scenes in the world. Whether it’s concerts in New York or other ways of enjoying the great works of the masters, here is your guide to classical music in NYC:

Keep Current

NYC is a fast-paced city, so you’ll need the most up-to-date resources to find upcoming classical music concerts in New York. Start your list by bookmarking the following:

  • Time Out New York: Time Out is one of NYC’s most popular sources of info on music, dining, nightlife, and culture. So of course they have a page dedicated to keeping track of upcoming classical and opera events in the city.
  • This website has a handy list of classical musical venues in New York, each linked to the venues’ own pages.
  • Classictic: On Classictic, you can find out who is playing and where, and also buy concert tickets right then and there! It’s a national site, but it has a page dedicated to New York.
  • Club Free Time: For the budget-minded classical music enthusiast, Club Free Time lists free and inexpensive events in NYC.

Listen to Classical Music on the Radio

There’s nothing like hearing an orchestra in person, but listening to Tchaikovsky on the radio isn’t bad either. Radio gives you the chance to hear the greatest symphonies, quartets, and sonatas at any hour of the day or night. When you don’t have time for classical concerts in New York, listen to these radio stations:

  • WQXR 105.9 FM: This station plays every type of classical music, with a series of different experts hosting programs throughout the day. Their website lists their schedule and has a music playlist.
  • WWFM 88.9 HD2: You’ll need a digital radio to listen to this station, but their selection of classical music and the stunning quality of digital sound make it worthwhile to get one.
  • WNYC 93.9 FM: This public radio station features classical music programs alongside news, talk radio, and other shows.

Live, Classical Music Venues

Now we come to the most important part — the top places to enjoy live classical music in New York.

  • Lincoln Center: How about hearing the power of classical music in the largest performing arts center on the planet? It’s also home to the New York Philharmonic, who play in the Avery Fisher Hall, as well as the site of the legendary Juilliard School.
  • Metropolitan Opera: The biggest classical music organization in the US is right here in NYC, forming part of the Lincoln Center.
  • Carnegie Hall: Carnegie Hall represents the height of musical accomplishment, and the best classical performers on Earth are honored to play here. It’s located at the corner of 57th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.
  • Rite of Summer Music Festival: Combine the joy of the outdoors with the beauty of classical music by heading to the free concerts at the Rite of Summer. You’ll find it by taking a ferry to Governors Island and walking a few blocks to Colonels Row.

Now that you know where to go and where to tune in, you can always find classical music concerts in New York when the mood strikes. Share this list with your friends and family who are planning on visiting NYC, then join them in listening to the greatest music the world has ever known, in the city that never sleeps!

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Where to Find the Best of Hip Hop in NYC

New York, New York is prolific for many reasons, boasting only the best in art, food, fashion, and more. Music is especially influential in NYC, and just about every genre can be found represented at the various theaters, arenas, hole-in-the-wall dive bars, and everything in between.

Hip hop in particular is a popular genre all across the nation, with pockets of hip hop clubs and recording studios stashed in every major city. New York’s hip hop scene is, like anything else in the Big Apple, vast and deep. For those who want to delve into the depths of hip hop, NYC is an ideal place to do so.

New York Hip Hop Radio Stations


Turn on the radio and you’ll find tons of great options for both mainstream and underground hip hop. Here are a few to check out:

New York’s Top Concert Venues


Want your hip hop fix live and right in front of you? New York offers tons of venues to help you out with that! Here are some of our favorites that often feature hip hop artists:

Local Events and Festivals

Tek n' Steele a/k/a Smif 'n Wessun

New York is known as the city that never sleep–and with a thriving hip hop scene, that means you’ll find a practically never-ending list of industry events every weekend. If you’re looking for festivals or hip hop concerts, NYC is the place to be. Our top picks to check out include:

And for the ultimate resource for all things New York hip hop, make sure to bookmark Birthplace Magazine–here you can view upcoming events and hip hop concerts in NYC, as well as check out additional audio posts, video posts, and opinion pieces on the industry.

Hip Hop How-To

hip hop dance NYC

Want to take your love for hip hop a step further, and make a name for yourself in the industry? Whether you want to play an instrument as part of a back-up band, pen your own lyrics, grab the mic, or learn hip hop dance, NYC is an awesome place to live out your dreams. The city is teeming with professional teachers available to help you improve your skills and guide you down the path to the career of your dreams. Like anything, perfecting an art takes practice, perseverance, and passion. Good luck!

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Get Ready for Summer! Where to Find Free Concerts in NYC

Free Summer Concerts In New York City Living in New York City is a dream for many people, and if you’re lucky enough to be one of the Big Apple’s 8.3 million residents, you get to enjoy one of the world’s best hubs for the performing arts. NYC is not just the true home of Broadway theater, it’s also a great place to experience music for free! Read on to learn about several places where you can catch free concerts in NYC.

Parties in the Park


Our first pick is the SummerStage program at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, put on by the City Parks Foundation. These events showcase a variety of music acts, and performers from past years have included Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Patti Smith. The Indigo Girls also played a SummerStage set in August of 2003, during the largest blackout NYC had seen in 40 years. SummerStage shows are spreading to other parks, so check out the City Parks Foundation calendar to catch SummerStage Brooklyn, SummerStage Bronx, and other festivals by this great taxpayer-funded program!

For those who prefer their rock in rock opera form, you’ll enjoy the July and August parties known as Broadway in Bryant Park. Whether you love the classic off-Broadway musicals or stick to the more modern Broadway flavors, there’s something for you in each week’s sampling of on- and off-Broadway hits. If true opera is more your flavor, don’t miss the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series, which features performances each summer in all five boroughs.

The Met Opera aren’t the only group bringing high-class shows to your area; we also love the New York Philharmonic series, Concerts in the Parks, which visits parks and other venues all over the city annually. If you just can’t get enough orchestral music, the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts occur regularly in Central Park; check out their calendar for the details.

New York Festivals

Celebrate Brooklyn

Other free concerts in NYC include the Martin Luther King Jr. series, hosted at Wingate Field (on Brooklyn Avenue) by Borough President Marty Markowitz. Genres featured usually focus on soul, R&B, and hip-hop, but this annual series is expanding into a broader variety of acts every year. Another free festival for these kinds of acts is the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series in Prospect Park.

If you’re always looking for variety and multicultural influence, check out the Out of Doors Festival at the world-famous Lincoln Center, which lasts three weeks and features music, dance, and spoken word performances from all over the world. Also, check out the Stars of Tomorrow series at the Hudson River Park, showcasing performances by students from area high schools and colleges.

Options for free contemporary music shows really are limitless; with the eclectic contemporary Red Hook Festival, (known for its kayak rides and other family activities), and also the open-air indie rock fests that occur every summer as part of the Seaport Music Festival, there’s something for a fan of any contemporary genre!

Celebrate Music and the Arts

Make Music NYC

Possibly the most exciting opportunity to catch free concerts in NYC is the worldwide annual event each June, Make Music (and its corresponding Make Music Winter celebration). This party is unlike any other concert, in that everyone is a participant – the Make Music project is a day when performers of all kinds take to the streets to celebrate their art and showcase their work. Learn more about Make Music New York at the organization’s web site, and join your community in the celebration of creativity!

High costs of living and the fast-paced urban lifestyle can be balanced out by taking the time to enjoy music. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy free concerts in NYC every summer (and some all year round), and get out there and make some music of your own as well! Brush up before you hit the streets for Make Music New York, by signing up for some music lessons with a local teacher.


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Planning an Event? How to Find the Best New York Bands for Hire

New York Bands For HireOne of the best parts about living in the Big Apple is having options – options for eating out, options for shopping, and for fans of live music, tons of options when you’re looking for New York bands for hire. NYC’s music scene is so rich and varied, thanks to superstar bands like the Beastie Boys, Blondie, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Talking Heads – just to name a few bands from New York. Luckily, many of the new bands coming up the pipeline are just as talented, yet much more affordable for your upcoming event.

Pick the Right Music

Before you start your search, consider what type of music is most appropriate for the event you’re planning. The best band for a classy midday wedding, for example, isn’t always the best choice for a late-night party. Also, think about what’s most popular right now. Currently, New Yorkers are digging these genres at the local clubs, bars, and music venues:

  • Rock
  • Blues
  • Acoustic
  • Cabaret
  • Traditional
  • Experimental
  • Jazz

These aren’t your only choices by a long shot, though. You can also choose a New York band that specializes in cover music, dance, pop, retro music, and even DJs that bring their own style to current hits.

Browse Through the Local Classified Ads

When looking for New York bands to hire, try looking through local classified ads, or place your own ads and let the bands do all the work. Great options for browsing or placing ads include Craigslist (under the “Musicians” section), and Gig Salad, which lets you find New York bands by genre, such as New York Jazz Bands or New York Party Bands. Gig Masters categorizes bands by events, such as New York wedding bands. Another option is Music Mates, which features a comprehensive list of bands available for New York gigs.

If you choose a band from the classifieds or online, take the time to check out one of their shows before hiring them and making a down payment on the event. While there are some stellar artists out there, it’s always risky to hire an unknown. If you can, search online to see what previous customers have to say about them before signing on the dotted line.

Check Out Local Music Venues

If you’re more of a hands-on shopper, you might prefer to visit some of the local live music venues and listen to a few bands. This is great if you’re the type who isn’t sure what you’re looking for until you hear it. And who knows – you might end up hiring the next hit sensation for your event before they start charging thousands of dollars per show!

You can find superb jazz acts at Barbès in Brooklyn, but beware, because once you go in and listen, you may never want to leave! The Blue Note also features some excellent local jazz acts.

Looking for a more retro style of music or something out of the ordinary? Check out Cakeshop on the Lower East Side. Need something more exotic? Take a stroll through Polynesia at Otto’s Shrunken Head. Does your crowd dig country music? You might find the perfect New York band for your event at Pete’s Candy Store. There’s also an interesting mix of new and undiscovered artists awaiting at Rockwood Music Hall.


With so many options around, finding New York bands available for your next event is a breeze as long as you know where to start. With the above resources in hand, you’re already one step closer to pinning down the perfect band!


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The Complete Guide to NYC’s Governors Ball

New York City's Governors BallFor music fans, nothing can quite match the experience of a music festival. Some are epic—think Woodstock, Coachella, Bumbershoot, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Summerfest—and that list doesn’t even include the international festivals. New York City has its own incredible event, The Governors Ball Music Festival, which is held on Randall’s Island. The first festival in 2011 was only one day, and although the acts weren’t huge, it drew a large crowd. In 2012 the festival ran for two days and included bigger names like Beck and Fiona Apple. Finally, in 2013, the festival landed bands and musicians like Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, Bloc Party, Kings of Leon, and Young the Giant.

Already have your tickets for this year’s event? Here’s what you’ll need to know before you go…

The Experience

The Governors Ball showcases a wide array of musical genres. You’ll find rock, pop, electronic, folk, indie, hip-hop, and more. People-watching will be at its prime, as the variety creates a unique atmosphere that draws music-lovers of all kinds, as well as a variety of ages. Need a break from the music, or something to keep you busy in between sets? Check out the lawn games, photo booths, body painting, art installations, and food trucks. Or, challenge your friends to dance-off at the Silent Disco, a unique experience you won’t want to miss. Moral of the story? If you’re into great music, lots of fun, and dancing your tail off—get ready for the time of your life!

govball2(Animal Collective at Governors Ball 2013)


Due to construction, there’s no parking available on Randall’s Island this year, so you’ll need to get a bit creative. Luckily, there are several options to get to the festival, including taking the subway, bus, Manhattan Ferry, or Brooklyn shuttle – or, consider breaking a sweat even before you get to the grounds by walking or biking there. For more transportation details, check out the Governors Ball website.

Where to Stay

If you plan to attend all three days of the festival, it’s best to have a crash pad to prep and rest up for the next day. If you don’t reside in NYC or the surrounding area, check out the area’s hotels and other sleeping establishments, or plan to crash with a friend or family member nearby.


Food and Water

One of the most important elements of surviving a festival of this magnitude is staying hydrated; it can be all too easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement and totally forget about drinking water. Fortunately, the Governors Ball makes it easy for concertgoers to fill up. Plan to bring in your own water bottle, and take advantage of the eight water stations dispersed throughout the festival grounds.

Food also tops the list of things to check out other than the music. The food lineup is usually just as spectacular as the musical acts! Tons of food trucks – including organic, kosher, vegetarian, and carnivorous options – can be found across the festival grounds. Over 21? Grab a drink at one of the Liquor Lounges in both the general and VIP areas.

What to Expect & What to Bring

As with all other New York concerts, you’ll want to travel light, dress appropriately, and make sure you bring everything you need (and nothing that will get you kicked out at the door!).

Because the Governors Ball is in June, you can never predict what the weather will do. Best advice? Prepare for anything! The most likely scenario is sun—which means sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen. Hats, sunglasses, and light clothing are also helpful. Beyond that, don’t forget your ID (if you’re over 21), your camera to document the event, earplugs if you need them, and a blanket if you think you might get chilly as the night goes on. Make sure to double check this list so you know what you’re allowed to bring and what’s not permitted.

govballband(Gary Clark, Jr at Governors Ball 2013)

Governors Ball 2014

Now in its fourth year, The 2014 Governors Ball has a stellar lineup. Some of the top acts include Outkast, Jack White, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, TV on the Radio, Broken Bells, Foster the People, Interpol, Bastille, Fitz and the Tantrums, Neko Case, The Head and the Heart, and many, many more incredible musicians. Some experienced concertgoers recommend planning out your schedule based on the set times of the bands or artists you want to see; others just say wing it! It’s totally up to you. Feeling overwhelmed? Check out this guide from live music connoisseurs

As with any concert, go prepared to keep yourself safe and the experience positive. The best concert memories and musical inspiration come from taking the time to plan ahead. The Governors Ball NYC is sure to be tons of fun, showcasing music that will motivate you on your own musical path. Who knows—with some lessons and practice, you might one day be part of NYC’s hottest festival, sharing your music with thousands of fans!


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6 Bands From New York Who Made Their Mark

Famous New York Music BandsNew York City is so huge and diverse, and such a magnet for musicians, that it’s hard to narrow down the best bands from New York. But we’re going to try! Here are six of the most famous and talented bands that got their start in the Big Apple:

1. Kiss

Kiss formed in 1973 in New York City, when Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley connected with Ace Frehley, an excellent guitarist who had taken classical music lessons from his parents since he was a small child. The band’s most well-known show during their early days was at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn in 1973; at the show, Simmons made quite a scene by setting his hair on fire mid-performance. Within a few years, Kiss became the giants of rock, and their superhero personalities were what set them apart, with their iconic black-and-white face paint and black leather outfits.

2. Blondie

Blondie got together in the mid-’70s in New York. They used the striking looks and sultry voice of their blond lead singer, Deborah Harry, to get attention at famous New York clubs, like CBGB. The co-founder of the band, guitarist Chris Stein, along with the other members, fused elements of new wave and early punk music to climb the charts higher than any punk band ever had, with hits like “Heart of Glass”. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

3. Beastie Boys

Hip hop was just beginning as a form of music when Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, and Adam Horovitz teamed up in New York to become the Beastie Boys in 1981. They started as a hardcore punk band, but switched to rapping within a few years and soon became one of hip hop’s biggest acts. Their seven platinum albums, beginning with the massive success “Licensed to Ill” and various hits, including “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”, made them another easy choice for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

4. Simon and Garfunkel

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met in 1957 when they were just 11 years old as classmates in Queens, New York. Simon had early musical training from his father, who was a band leader, and Garfunkel loved to sing from the time he was a small child. The pair were already recording songs together by their mid-teens, but it wasn’t until 1965 that they would become legends, with the release of “The Sound of Silence”. Remarkably, Simon and Garfunkel are still touring together as of recent years, serenading audiences with their soft and soothing folk ballads.

5. The Velvet Underground

Managed by famed artist Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground was destined to be great from the start. Garage band rocker Lou Reed met John Cale in 1964, laying the foundation for the band. Cale was a trained musician who had come from Wales to study classical music in New York. The two young men started as the house band in Warhol’s New York City studio, The Factory, and worked with other musicians to create one of the most innovative bands from New York. Like the other bands on this list, they too have a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

6. The Strokes

This band shows that New York is still inspiring great music! These kids weren’t even born when most of the other bands from New York got their start, but they’ve since made a name for themselves on the list of New York greats. Julian Casablancas studied music at the Dwight School in Manhattan, along with two other friends who would help him form The Strokes, a band inspired by ’60s garage rock. They quickly became international rock heroes with their 2001 debut “Is This It”. They even fulfilled the dream of every New York band, playing Radio City Music Hall in 2002. They continue to knock out hit albums today, and show no signs of slowing down.

These six bands from New York have made it big and there are sure to be many to follow! Will your band be next?


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5 Groundbreaking New York Artists to Know

Up And Coming New York ArtistsNew York may have been a city founded on commerce, but it has long had a strong a relationship with the arts. The open and varied environment of America’s largest city offers a perfect home for many artists and their work. Here are just a few successful artists who have used New York City as a base and a home:

Claes Oldenburg

Born in Stockholm and educated in Chicago, New Haven, and New York City, Oldenburg first found success in the Manhattan art scene of the 1950s. Oldenburg used different materials for his abstract and compelling sculptures, including stockings, papier-mâché, enamel, and plaster. Oldenburg’s representations of everyday items fit in perfectly with the burgeoning Pop Art movement of the early ’60s, and he connected with several other New York artists to help incorporate his works into larger performance art events. Today, Oldenburg is famous for his often massive sculptures, such as “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X”, currently displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

Lanigan-Schmidt is another New York City artist who received recognition for work with a relatively lighthearted feel, which was displayed in a MoMA exhibit in 2012-2013, “Tender Love Among the Junk”. Lanigan-Schmidt’s mixed-media constructions incorporate inexpensive materials such as foil, tinsel, and glitter, giving them a unique look. Like many other great New York artists, Lanigan-Schmidt hailed from out of town – New Jersey to be precise – but became absorbed into the city’s history in 1969 after taking part in the Stonewall Riots. The artist got his start around the same time by creating his own exhibitions and guiding art patrons through them as Ethel Dull, a character he created.

Ann Liv Young

Ann Liv Young is among the most gutsy and eccentric of artists: the performance artist. Young garnered a reputation for being especially bold and making art patrons uncomfortable in the best way possible. While rising in prominence in the NYC art world, Young created her own style and mythology. Her style involved improvisation and audience participation, with her fairy-tale inspired mythology and alter ego, Sherry.

Alexandria Smith

Unlike other successful New York artists, Alexandria Smith is no transplant. The artist was born in the NYC borough of The Bronx and grew up a few miles away in New Rochelle, New York. Smith is now based in the artists’ haven of Brooklyn, and works mainly through painting and drawing. Smith’s works deal with issues of identity and modern society, generally from the perspective of young, African American girls. Not only is Smith a native to the New York metro area, but her art education was also regional, beginning with a degree in illustration at Syracuse University, before getting her Masters in Art Education at New York University and an MFA in Drawing and Painting at Parsons The New School of Design. As New York-centric as Smith’s upbringing and education were, much of her work is caught in a world between urban and rural life.

Aurel Schmidt

New York’s incredibly rich culture can be linked to its relationship with immigrants who have been accepted into the city for centuries. New York-based immigrant artists have come from all over the world, from as far as Japan and as nearby as Canada. Up-and-coming young artist Aurel Schmidt hails from British Columbia, and his elaborate, complex works of visual art contain many different themes and intricacies. Schmidt already has a career that is the envy of other rising New York artists, having been featured in the Whitney Museum and written about in “Interview” and “The New York Times Magazine”.


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6 Venues That Shaped Music in New York City

New York's Greatest Music Venues“The Big Apple” is huge in every way, but the history of music in New York City is bigger than the Yankees, the Empire State Building, and Wall Street combined! From jazz to hip hop, from opera houses to Broadway musicals, and from punk to disco, this town has either invented or reinvented nearly every type of music you can can think of. Explore the past by visiting these legendary New York City music venues:

Radio City Music Hall

1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

The history of music in New York might top the rest of the country’s history as a whole. Radio City Music Hall was built during the Great Depression in what is now called Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. It’s known for its elegant murals, chandeliers, railings, carpeting, and sculptures, and, oh yeah, its music! As the largest indoor theater on the planet, this music hall truly deserves its nickname as the “Showplace of the Nation.”

Madison Square Garden

4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001

Madison Square Garden sits on top of Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. Commonly referred to as “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden was one of the first venues to fill a sports arena with concert fans, and it continues to host the biggest names in music today. Some of the most iconic performers from past shows include Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Elton John, and John Lennon, who played his final show there shortly before his death in 1980.

Apollo Theater

253 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027

Since the 1930s, the Apollo Theater in Harlem has been the most happening place for African-American music. Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Anita O’Day, James Brown, and Ella Fitzgerald are just a few of the legends who have played here. Today you can still see the latest in soul and jazz performed at the Apollo.


315 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

Now we come to a more specialized venue – the Midtown Manhattan jazz mecca of Birdland first opened in 1949 with a performance by its namesake, Charlie “Bird” Parker. The original location closed down, but a new Birdland opened in the ’80s on the Upper West Side. The owners then decided to get back to the Birdland roots by returning the club to Midtown. The greatest names in jazz play here, following in the path of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk. It may have moved twice, but Birdland still delivers all of the old-time jazz vibes you could ask for.

The Knitting Factory

361 Metropolitan Ave, New York, NY 11211

Ready to head out to Brooklyn? The Knitting Factory used to be in Tribeca, but took its wild shows out to Williamsburg in 2008. Their first venue in Manhattan (they now have several around the country) opened in 1987 as a place to host the experimental bands that were emerging in New York City. Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, and Soul Coughing all played shows at the Knitting Factory before they became famous. The venue continues to promote the “stranger” side of music in New York, and their current location holds just 300 people, giving shows a personal feel.



This one is bittersweet for NYC residents, as CBGB closed down in 2006 after an incredible run. Its initials stand for “country, bluegrass and blues,” but CBGB was known most of all for its groundbreaking punk rock scene in the ’70s and ’80s. The Patti Smith Group, The Dead Boys, The Ramones, and the B-52’s all played here during their careers. Music in New York City suffered when CBGB shut its doors, but the clothing store that took over the location still displays many of the club’s iconic posters and graffiti, so go ahead and make a stop here on your New York music history tour. (Ear plugs not required!)


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The Best NY Music Schools: Juilliard and Beyond

The Best Music Schools In New YorkThe Juilliard School has long been known as the best school for a music performance education, and the pinnacle of NY music performance education. Between its location (next to Lincoln Center) and reputation, it’s the place that many aspiring musicians dream about. However, it’s also expensive and incredibly difficult to get into. Juilliard may be host to some of the most famous music teachers ever, but many of them also have studios at other schools around the cities. Some of these schools may even have better programs for your needs and are far more affordable. Here are some other options where students can get amazing NY music experiences and educations:

Manhattan School of Music

Located uptown from Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music (MSM) offers Bachelor, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. They also offer one-year programs in the form of a Professional Studies Certificate or an Artist Diploma. MSM has programs in Voice, Instrumental Performance, Jazz, Composition, Accompanying, and Orchestra Performance, and was one of the first schools to offer a Master’s degree in Contemporary Performance. Faculty members come from the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, among many other famous institutions.

MSM is a small, private school, so without a scholarship, the cost can be pretty steep. Keep that in mind as you’re looking at your education options.

Mannes College The New School for Music

In many ways, Mannes offers a NY music education experience similar to that of MSM and Juilliard. It offers a conservatory education in music performance, with faculty members from world-class ensembles, and is also located in always-interesting/never-sleeping Manhattan. One thing it offers that most other NY music conservatories don’t, however, is a Bachelor of Science degree. The course load is the same as the Bachelor of Music degree, with an additional 30 credits in fields like humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and cognitive sciences. If you’re trying to keep your options open, appease worried parents, or simply have interests outside of just music, Mannes might be your solution to picking a NY music school.

The City College of New York

Admission to CCNY tends to be easier then the conservatories we’ve talked about so far, and the tuition is far less. But that doesn’t make it a less prestigious school – you’ll still be working with amazing faculty members, in a fantastic Manhattan location.

CCNY offers BAs and BFAs in the same areas as the other schools previously mentioned, in addition to degrees in Musicology, Popular Music Studies, and Music Technology. The BA program even has a new and interesting Pop Studies track for students who are interested in becoming audio engineers or producers. In addition, CCNYs program offers performance opportunities in a variety of styles, including a Brazilian ensemble, rock ensemble, Klezmer band, and Latin band. It may be the perfect school for students who love music in a variety of forms, not just the traditional orchestra, jazz, and opera genres.

Stony Brook University

One of the SUNY (State University of New York) schools, Stony Brook offers a few things other schools on this list don’t. As a state school, it’s more affordable, and since it’s located in Long Island, it’s a great option for students who want access to the New York music scene without having to actually sleep in the city that never sleeps. The Long Island Rail Road connects Stony Brook directly to Penn Station on the Port Jefferson Line.

If you’re an undergrad, the program is a bit less serious than some students desire. While they have world-renowned faculty members (including the Emerson String Quartet and many other famous soloists and chamber musicians from NY to London and beyond), undergraduates need to get special permission from those teachers to study with them – and typically it’s only two or three students a year. The rest study with graduate students. Overall, this is a great school for students who have an interest in music studies, but don’t want to limit themselves; since Stony Brook is a university, the general education available is far more well-rounded than a conservatory, and you can even double major in other subjects.

For graduate students, Stony Brook offers amazing faculty and various performance opportunities, including orchestra, chamber, jazz band, and baroque ensembles, all under the guidance of leaders in those fields. Also, flexible scheduling allows many graduate students to obtain degrees while still teaching and or performing elsewhere and commuting in.

Hofstra University

Also located in Long Island, Hofstra offers degrees (both Bachelor’s and Master’s) in Music Education and Wind Conducting, in addition to shorter programs for a Music Education Certificate and other non-degree programs in Music Education. In short, if you want to be only a train ride from NYC but would rather be on the teaching end of the equation as opposed to the performing/auditioning end, Hofstra could be a great place to start your education career, or to take your performance degree to the next level by pairing it with a Master’s in Education. Hofstra’s faculty is made up of many of the same familiar faces we see on faculty at the conservatories, as well as individuals well-published in the areas of music theory and history.

While The Juilliard School may be the best-known name, it’s not the only game in the NY music education scene. Choose the school that fits your needs best, and be prepared to make the most of your education!


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