New York Philharmonic On the Road

David Geffen Hall (Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.

We certainly live in “interesting times.” The pandemic has taken its toll in terms of life, work, school, and many other essential areas of existence. One of the hardest hit dimensions has been concerts, which, because of the pandemic, cannot now be held in their usual venues. However, a partial solution to getting music and musicians to the people is being experimented with in a playful and joyous way.

The New York Philharmonic launched an initiative to bring beautiful music to the people, called NY Phil Bandwagon. The idea is that a group of musicians who would usual be found performing in Lincoln Center’s 2,738-seat David Geffen Hall, instead hop on the back of a big red pick-up truck and mosey on down to a small park and perform in front of a small group of lucky citizens. No announcement is made in advance to avoid drawing more people than would be safe under the coronavirus restrictions, and each concert is only 25 minutes long.

Recently a group of four musicians performed the Handel aria “Lascia ch’io pianga” in Fort Greene’s Betty Carter Park. Yulia Ziskel, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Sumire Kudo, cello; and Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor. Costanzo was instrumental in bringing the idea of the Bandwagon to life.

“We’re excited to start communicating again,” said Mr. Costanzo to the small crowd.

The group hopes to bring music to three small venues each day, if whether and other challenges permit.

Other music on the schedule included Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” and Carlos Simon’s “Loop.”

Costanzo ended the last concert with a wish for the future: “We hope to see you on a street corner soon.”


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)