The days may be unbearable, but summer nights in New York City are some of the most beautiful to be had anywhere. What better way to celebrate the season than with an outdoor concert under the stars?
Musicians travel from all over the world to Queens each summer to perform in the borough’s many parks. You’ll find something happening near you just about every week, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody charging admission. So grab a blanket, some lawn chairs and a bottle of insect repellent, and get ready for a potent reminder that the best things in life are free.
The Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens kicked off its eighth annual Italian Nights Concert Series in Astoria’s Athens Square Park, located at 30th Street and 30th Avenue, on Wednesday, June 16th. Frizzi & Lazzi, The Olde Time Italian-American Music & Theatre Company, devoted to reviving the works of Italian-American immigrants at the turn of the last century, perform along with the young dancers and gymnasts of the Roberta Wells Conservatory of Arts and Learning. All concerts start at 7 p.m.
The weekly Wednesday night series continues on June 23rd with Goliard Concerts’ Broadway Bound, in which Marie Ann Chenevey and Paul Burket perform Broadway favorites with Brett Roelofs at the piano. They’ll be followed by Tony & Tina, performers whose fusion of Italian and American expressions are sure to please all lovers of song and dance.
On Wednesday, June 30th, the Opera Company of Astoria will perform “Opera at the Movies,” a night filled with familiar operatic classics that have been used in film and television, including La Boheme, Carmen, La Traviata, Rigoletto and Il Pagliacci.
Internationally recognized singer Dino Rosi will use his tenor to sing everything from popular standards to opera arias in five languages on Wednesday, July 7th.
On Wednesday, July 14th, Caterina Curatolo & Company will perform Italian, American and Spanish favorites to sing and dance to.
Extasy’s Martino & Martino Hroncich, formerly known as Golden Star, will perform Old Italian favorites, particularly songs from Istria and Kvarner, the regions between Italy and Croatia, on Wednesday, July 21st.
On Wednesday, July 28th, modern rockers Knot Chosen will play a combination of original and cover tunes, as well as some classic Italian songs.
Caterina Acquamarina will perform Wednesday, August 4th, and the Astoria Music Society will perform an evening of jazz on Wednesday, August 11th. Also that night, three generations of the Briguglio family will perform traditional songs to keyboard accompaniment.
Goliard Concerts returns to the park on Wednesday, August 18th to perform an evening of Italian arias and songs.
The Italian Nights series concludes on Wednesday, August 25th with Marie and Joe performing the songs of Istria and Kvarner, and Anoush will perform belly dances and the solo folk dances of the Thousand And One Nights to the sounds of the dumbek drum.
Also in Astoria, the central Astoria Local Development Corporation presents its annual Waterfront Concert Series in Astoria Park, Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m.
Things start off with a bang on Thursday evening, July 1st with an Independence Day celebration featuring Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band, Lenny Cocco and the Chimes and Rany and the Rainbows, followed by a fireworks display over the water.
Thursday, July 8th is Country Western Night featuring New Jersey’s finest country band, Nashville Attitude.
The British Invasion is the following week’s theme, as Godfrey Townsend performs on Thursday, July 15th. On Thursday, July 22nd, Good Clean Fun provides an evening of Motown sounds.
Bobby Matos and the NY Latin Jazz Allstars will perform on Thursday, July 29th for Latin Jazz Night, and Queens world-famous Elvis impersonator Gregg Peters will end the series with an All Star Tribute show on Thursday, August 5th.
Kids get their own series in Athens Square Park on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m., also sponsored by the Central Astoria LDC.
On Tuesday, July 6th, bring the kids to be entertained by Peppermint Puppets. On July 13th, it’s Music Around the World. July 20th brings The Art of Mime and July 27th is a Fire and Safety show. On August 3rd, it’s Spooks & Ghosts.
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group is sponsoring a series of outdoor events on Sundays at 4 p.m. at Travers Park, located at 34th Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets in Jackson Heights.
The Summer Sundays kick off on June 6th with Chris Washburne and his Syotos Band performing Latin jazz.
On June 13th, La Propia Banda, a Spanish guitar duo, will perform along with the electric blues of the Kand Bros. Blues Band.
Ustad Kadar Kan, an Indian tabla band, and Rakatek, an Egyptian percussion ensemble, will perform on June 20th, and Lovin’ Kind will bring its American roots music and country swing to the park along with Balkanoia’s electronic Balkan fusion on June 27th.
The Swedish Cottage Marionettes, a production of the Parks Department, will perform on July 11th, and electric guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas and classical Chinese bamboo flautist Shuni Tsou will play on July 18th.
On July 25th, it’s Asiko, a 13-piece Afropop band and The Spinozas, who explore the roots of pop music in Arabic, Hebrew and the Romance languages. Theater for the New City will perform a musical production on August 1st.
In Fresh Meadows’ Cunningham Park, the Metropolitan Opera will perform its annual concerts on Wednesday, June 23rd and Thursday, June 24th at 8 p.m.
The New York Philharmonic will perform Charles Ives’ “Variations on America,” a Barber violin concerto with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and John Adams’ “Harmonielehre” in Cunningham Park on Thursday, July 15th at 8 p.m.
Queens Botanical Garden, located at 43-50 Main Street in Flushing, presents its own summer concert series, beginning on Sunday, July 18th at 4 p.m. with the Queens Festival Band, performing its repertoire of Dixieland and classical jazz. The band will return to the garden for a second concert on Thursday, August 19th at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, July 22nd at 7 p.m., Teatro Pregones will perform “Baile Cagrejero,” a celebration of Afro-Latino music, dance and poems.
On Sunday, August 1st at 6 p.m., Rhythms Around the World will perform an evening of traditional drumming and music inspired by many global traditions.
The 13-piece David Cedeno Orchestra will perform an evening of salsa under the stars on Thursday, August 5th at 7 p.m.
Carol Sudhalter’s Astoria Big Band performs the final concert at the garden on Thursday, August 26th at 7 p.m.
The nearby Voelker Orth Museum, located at 149-19 38th Avenue in Flushing, will host its own garden concert on Saturday, June 19th at 6:30 p.m, with another concert at the same time on Sunday, July 4th.
Get a head start on your 4th of July celebrations at Flushing Meadows Park on Sunday, June 27th 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with music, food, arts and cultural crafts.
Or, if you live in Northern Queens and prefer to celebrate our nation’s independence on the day itself, the Poppenhusen Institute is starting off its summer concert series at MacNeil Park, located at 5th Avenue and College Place, with a special July 4th ceremony including “Thomas Jefferson” reading the Declaration of Independence, accompanied by the 30-piece Band of Long Island performing patriotic music. All concerts are on Sundays at 6 p.m.
On July 11th, the waterfront performance series continues with Risky Business performing oldies music of the ’50s and ’60s. On July 18th, Savannah Sky will perform country music with the Poppenhusen Line Dancers and instructors Ellen and Ira Lengel. Phil Costa and the Something Special Orchestra will wrap up the series with the sounds of the big bands on July 25th.
For those who prefer to participate in their musical entertainment experience, Forest Park in Woodhaven is hosting a karaoke night on Fridays. July 2nd, July 9th, July 23rd and August 6th at 7 p.m. are oldies nights with Billy C. & Kitty, and Friday, August 20th is Billy’s C.’s Rock’n’ Roll Spectacular.
Beatlemania returns to the park on Thursday, July 8th at 7:30 p.m., with a special celebration for the Fab Four’s 40th anniversary.
The Queens Symphony will perform in the park on Sundays, July 25th, August 8th and August 15th at 7 p.m. Country Western Night begins at the same time on Sunday, August 22rd, featuring Gunsmoke and special guests.
Enjoy an evening of doo-wop on Thursday, August 5th at 7:30 p.m., as The 4 Pops, The Tribunes and The Clusters sing at Forest Park. On Thursday, August 12th at 7:30 p.m., come swing with the sounds of the Lew Picardi Big Band at Forest Park.
Maspeth Federal Savings Bank will sponsor its annual Wednesday evening summer concert series in the parking lot of its main branch at 58-18 69th Street in Maspeth, starting with the oldies music of The Crest on July 14th at 7:30 p.m.
The series will move to the bank’s Forest Hills branch at 101-09 Metropolitan Avenue on July 21st at 7:30 p.m., and then return to the main brach on July 28th for a performance by Savannah Sky.
On August 11th, Daniel Rodriguez, the former police officer who has become “America’s tenor” will perform at 7:30.