Festival History

The statue of Italy’s great composer Verdi donated by New York’s Italian-American community was inaugurated at Verdi Square (Broadway & 72nd Street) in 1906 to marching bands, choruses, and over 10,000 participants. The Verdi Square Festival, an annual September series of three free one hour outdoor concerts, has been bringing great music back to Verdi Square since 2006. Conceived of and managed by volunteer Upper West Side music lovers in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the Festival always includes a concert with selections from Verdi Operas. Programs also have included Jazz, American Musical Theater, Klezmer, and Bluegrass, and this year, a Jug Band.

The Festival originally presented only young artists from New York and Boston Conservatories. In 2016 we expanded our roster to include new groups of professional musicians. Last year we presented a new Jazz group, the New York Jazzharmonic formed by members of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. In 2014 the First Republic Bank joined the Festival in presenting non-musical events at its branch at Broadway & 76th street, designated “Verdi Square North” during the Festival. Poets reading their works at “Verdi Square North 2014” included Gregory Pardlo, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Poetry Prize. In 2015, “Verdi Square North” Art Exhibits included paintings by guards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and sculptures by Cliff Struhl, a Long Island businessman, bee-keeper, and sculptor. The Verdi Square Festival takes pride in presenting works worth seeing and hearing not readily available without cost elsewhere. The Festival has received media recognition from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NY 1 Television, and others (see Press Page). Mayors of both New York and Parma (Verdi’s birthplace) have saluted the Festival.

The Festival’s modest annual budget covers artists’ fees and expenses, sound equipment rentals, videography, printing, and website maintenance. The Department of Parks and Recreation provides concert seating, stage platforms, and manpower for set-up, demobilization, and security. The Festival is entirely volunteer managed. There are no administrative or fund-raising overheads. Verdi Square Festival Corp. is an IRS designated 501(c)3. Tax-deductible contributions are the Festival’s sole source of support. Contributions in any amount are gratefully received and may be made online or by mail.