NEWS RELEASE – August 31, 2018
Verdi Square Festival free September Sunday afternoon concerts over the past 13 years have brought puzzled smiles to the statue of Giuseppe Verdi dominating the eponymous mini-park at Broadway and 72nd Street. He happily recognizes his own Opera hits always closing the Festival, but Klezmer, Dixieland Jazz, American Musical Theater, Blue Grass, and Jug Band? That range of presentations supports the Festival’s claim to be New York's Premiere Boutique Arts Festival. This season it goes even further.
At 5:00 pm, Sunday, September 16 Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night comes alive on Verdi Square. At 5:00 pm Sunday, September 23, world-famed Afro-Cuban Jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill brings the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Octet to Verdi Square to perform his Dreaming with Lions Suite. At 5:00 pm Sunday, September 30, the Manhattan School of Music sends its rising stars to close the Festival with a salute to Opera. In the event of rain performances are rescheduled at the artist’s convenience – ideally the following Sunday in a double-bill presentation. Seating is limited; the Festival always plays to an SRO audience, so it’s best to arrive early.
The Festival was created in 2006 as a partnership between Upper West Side resident volunteers and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation seeking to bring music back to a historic mini-park with a unique musical heritage. Verdi Square Park was a favorite haunt of Enrico Caruso, Fyodor Chaliapin, Lauritz Melchior, Arturo Toscanini, and Igor Stravinsky who stayed at the adjoining Ansonia Hotel, New York's top hotel at the time. The Gershwin brothers, living on Riverside Drive, would cross the park on the way to their bank on Broadway & 72nd. The Festival provides aspiring artists the opportunity to hone their talents, appearing before real audiences of strangers, not friendly fellow students in the sanctuary of Conservatories. Festival concerts give Upper West Siders the enjoyment of hearing young artists perhaps soon to be appearing a few blocks South at Lincoln Center – without worrying about the price of tickets.