The New York Philharmonic made a victory lap through all five boroughs of the city, marking fifty wonderful years of summer concerts in the city’s parks. The free series was generously presented by philanthropists Oscar and Didi Schafer.
The numbers are stunning: Fifty years, 70 concerts, 14 MILLION enthralled concertgoers. The tradition of music in the parks is one of the city’s greatest treasures, with tourists and locals, children and picnickers, all in the audience mix.
The programs tend toward the popular, with lots of show music, exuberant Russians and Americana, and terrific fireworks for grand finales. There is nothing that can quite compare to the vision of fireworks exploding with the skyline of Manhattan in the background.
This year’s series in June began on the Great Lawn in Central Park with works by Barber and Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra” with the incomparable and charming violinist Joshua Bell, and Richard Rodger’s lovely “Carousel Waltz.”
Other 50th Anniversary concerts featured Chalres Dutoit conducting Stravinsky, Ravel and Berlioz.
The Philharmonic in the Parks series was truly a gift to the city. Long may it continue.

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