Late last summer, the New York Philharmonic turned in the direction of scrapping in August.
With the theater closed from the pandemic, the orchestra rented a Ford F-250 pickup, wrapped it in red, white, and black, and drove around town for short, impromptu chamber events on eight weekends.
The Philharmonic announced on Friday that they would be bringing the NY Phil Bandwagon concept back this spring, but for a shorter period and in a more stable environment – reflecting the glimmers of a transition back to the concert hall.
Bandwagon 2 will trade the pickup for a 20-foot container on a tractor-trailer that will visit four parks in New York City for weekend stays through May. (The full schedule will be available at nyphil.org/bandwagon.) With a fold-out stage, video wall, and built-in sound and lighting, the setup is now more engaging and theatrical.
The offering will also extend beyond classical and new chamber music to more diverse, cross-genre collaborations with six community art organizations, including A Better Jamaica in Queens and El Puente in Brooklyn.
“With Bandwagon 2 we can center the voices of our partners and use the resources of the Philharmonic to improve the work of our employees,” said Deborah Borda, the orchestra’s executive director, in a statement. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who helped build the Bandwagon last year, will play an additional role as producer on the program.
In Domino Park in Brooklyn, composer and singer Juana Luna and dancer Elisa Toro Franky, both associated with El Puente, will develop song-and-dance pieces with a quartet of philharmonic strings as an element.
The premiere of Mark Grey’s chamber opera Birds in the Moon about migration and mother-daughter relationships with a libretto by Júlia Canosa i Serra and directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer will also take place in Domino Park. A string quartet from the Philharmonic will be accompanied by the soprano Maria Elena Altany and the actor Austin Spangler.
Angélica Negrón’s “Sembrar,” performed at Pater Gigante Plaza in the Bronx, will present his electronic composer with strings from the Philharmonic and the Bronx Arts Ensemble. Also at Pater Gigante Plaza, the orchestra’s deputy timpanist, Kyle Zerna, will be performing with Grand Wizzard Theodore.
Soprano Laquita Mitchell will perform with the Harlem Chamber Players in Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan and with a string quartet from the Philharmonic in St. Albans Park in Queens. New works are presented each week by participants in the orchestra’s Very Young Composers Program.
The move was among the Philharmonic’s scattered activities during a pandemic forced shutdown of David Geffen Hall, their Lincoln Center home. In February, the orchestra also introduced the streaming service for NYPhil + subscriptions. It takes advantage of the shutdown of the electricity supply due to the lengthy renovation of Geffen, which is now set to reopen in autumn 2022, a year and a half ahead of the plans.
On April 14, exactly 400 days after it last gathered inside to play in front of an audience, the Philharmonic returned for a live performance for a two-day booth in the shed. The next day the orchestra announced its return to Bravo! The Colorado Vail Music Festival is held in July, and it’s also expected to have its popular summer concert series in New York’s parks. While Geffen will remain closed for the next season, performances are planned at Lincoln Center facilities such as Alice Tully Hall and the Rose Theater, as well as Carnegie Hall and other rooms.