MTA’s return of live underground concerts wins applause, ovation

May 21, 2021 Editorial Staff
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More than 12,000 performances in 35 different locations in season


The MTA’s popular Music Under New York series, which gives musicians of all genres a place to play in the subway system, is slated to return to the subway system on June 4, more than 14 months since it suspended public performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past, Brooklyn stations where Music Under New York could be heard included Court Street-Borough Hall, Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, the Grand Army Plaza station, and within the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal.

Authority officials, including MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth, joined longtime Music Under New York groups to formally celebrate the news Thursday with a brief concert at the 72nd Street station featuring The Opera Collective, four opera singers, and Diverse Concert Artists, a string quartet.

In both cases, the groups have many more members than the ones who performed on Thursday.

“This is such a profoundly exciting and special moment for MTA Arts & Design and Music Under New York, one of Arts & Design’s flagship programs,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth. “The last year has been difficult for these artists just as they have been difficult for the entire city.”

MTA New York City Transit Executive VP for Subways Demetrius Crichlow. Photo courtesy of MTA

“The city’s subway system is the economic lifeblood of the region and Music Under New York embodies cultural fuel powering that system,” said New York City Transit Executive VP for Subways Demetrius Crichlow. “Almost every subway rider can speak to a time when the beauty, power, and joy of a particular Music Under New York act has stopped them in their tracks.”

“Of all the pre-eminent stages in this incredible city, we view MTA MUSIC as one of the most important” said Rachel Hibbert, a member of the Opera Collective who performed. “We have the unique potential and ability to make music for everyone, not just those who can afford a seat in a theater.”

The Music Under New York program, also known as MTA MUSIC, will resume with enhanced safety protocols in place. Special protective gear such as singing masks and instrument masks will be provided to the performers, who will be required to socially distance themselves and encouraged to get vaccinated.–>

Music Under New York, administered by MTA Arts and Design, began as a pilot program in 1985 and became an Arts & Design program in January 1987 with the enthusiastic support of the commuting public.

More than 350 individual performers and music ensembles participate in over 12,500 annual performances in approximately 35 locations throughout the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s transit system.

Through Music Under New York, these performances encompass classical strings, jazz ensembles, world music bands, folk, a cappella groups, singer songwriters and more.

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