Live Music in Empty Storefronts

While theaters remain closed, there’s a new way to enjoy the arts while staying socially distanced.

On January 21, the Upper West Side’s Kaufman Music Center (at 129 West 67th Street) launched a popup performance series called Musical Storefronts.

Until March 31, over 100 NYC artists will be performing inside of empty storefronts, with exterior sound systems amplifying their voices and instruments for pedestrians passing by.

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Performers will include chamber musicians, soloists, Broadway stars from Hamilton, Tootsie and Company, and artists who have appeared on the Merkin Hall stage.

These impromptu storefront concerts will take place almost every day, sometimes twice a day, with artists performing three short sets in the empty space.

To limit crowd size and ensure social distancing, artists and programs will be announced via a QR code on the storefront on the day of each performance. The schedule will not be shared in advance … so keep your eyes open!

Photo by Joan Jastrebski

socially distanced live music NYC

Photo by Joan Jastrebski

Musical Storefronts kicked off with violinist Sean Lee, who delighted passers-by with a program of Paganini Caprices. “It feels like home again, like I’m on stage and getting to speak to people,” says Lee. “It’s so good to see people hungry for music and hopefully brightening their day a bit.”

Musical Storefronts Kaufman Music

Photo by Joan Jastrebski

Sean Lee violin

Photo by Joan Jastrebski

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Some of the artists to perform in the series will include JACK Quartet, Orli Shaham, Caroline Shaw, Gil Shaham, Attacca Quartet, Timo Andres, Adam Tendler, Gabrielle Stravelli, Rubén Rengel, Conrad Tao, Lisa Bielawa, and mezzo soprano Chrystal E. Williams (pictured below), who has already taken part in the series.

Chrystal E. Williams Musical Storefronts

Photo by Joan Jastrebski

Musical Storefronts Williams 2

Photo by Joan Jastrebski

Presented in partnership with the Alphadyne Foundation, Musical Storefronts provides work to artists severely impacted by the cancellation of live performances.

Following the success of Art on the Ave, which filled empty Columbus Avenue storefronts with work from local artists, this new initiative also gives New Yorkers something more pleasant to focus on.

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Jay Dweck, adviser to the Alphadyne Foundation, says “The continued cancellation of live music, dance and theater events has devastated performing artists, in many cases reducing their income by 90%. The Alphadyne Foundation is committed to providing work to musicians, dancers and thespians affected by the pandemic. I saw an opportunity in Manhattan’s empty storefronts to bring live performances safely back to New York City, brought the idea to Kaufman Music Center and together, we are thrilled to bring this project to life.”

Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Kate Sheeran says they “are thrilled to present more than 100 amazing artists at a time when theaters are still dark. Live music provides joy and inspiration in challenging times, and we are excited to deepen connections with our community through this new series.”

The format of Musical Storefronts takes necessary health and safety measures for both artists and audiences into account. A representative from Kaufman Music Center also tells us that staff members will ensure social distancing is maintained among audience members on the sidewalk.Learn more about Musical Storefronts at kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/musical-storefronts-series/.




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  1. Linda January 29, 2021

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