Harlem Is Invited To The Lincoln Center Presents Free 60th Anniversary Block Party

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts marks the 60th anniversary of the center’s groundbreaking, kicking off the celebration with a free Block Party on Saturday, May 4 from 10:00 am–2:30 pm. With activities for all ages, the event brings together all of the eleven organizations that comprise Lincoln Center—activating the campus with a range of performances, art-making, film screenings, and more.

The 60th Anniversary Block Party begins at 10:00 am with a ceremony and land acknowledgement by Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lunaape and Native American performing artists Cliff Matias and the Redhawk Dancers. The day continues with a series of outdoor concerts co-curated by Jordana Leigh of Lincoln Center and Musical Director Sunny Jain, featuring artists from throughout the five boroughs, including:

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center-affiliated vocalist and flutist Melanie Charles presenting her unique blend of jazz, soul, experimental and roots music on Hearst Plaza;
  • A student ensemble from The Juilliard School;
  • Christian Dante White performing “On the Street Where You Live” from the Lincoln
  • Center Theater production of My Fair Lady;
  • Red Baraat PLUS (led by Sunny Jain) mixing North Indian bhangra with elements of hip-hop, jazz, and raw punk energy, with a 30-piece ensemble;
  • Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization dedicated to the advancement of African American artists, presenting the Chorale on Hearst Plaza;
  • Fogo Azul NYC, an all-female percussive group, providing Samba Reggae beats;
  • Grammy-nominated singer Falu Shah blending classical Indian music and American pop in her kid-friendly project Falu’s Bazaar;
  • Brooklyn-based Haitian roots street band Plezi Rara performing in Damrosch Park; and
  • Step It Up NYC featuring youth dance and step performers aged 10–20 from throughout the City who participate in afterschool programs funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.

The outdoor activities culminate as more than 100 artists join together on Josie Robertson Plaza for a performance of an original arrangement of classic songs that celebrate NYC, arranged and conducted by Jain.

Indoor activities include:

  • Free tickets* to New York City Ballet’s 11:00 am a presentation of Inside NYCB:
  • Originating Roles, as company dancers share what it’s like to have works created on them and showcase excerpts of the company’s choreography;
  • A sneak peek at the ballet stars of tomorrow with an observation of the School of
  • American Ballet’s 12:30 pm class*;
  • A preview of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra’s summer concerts at 2:30 pm in the
  • David Rubenstein Atrium;
  • Kristin Lee (violin) and Gilles Vonsattel (piano) of The Chamber Music Society of
  • Lincoln Center perform an intimate concert of works by Gershwin, Mendelssohn, Clara
  • Schumann, and Ravel in the Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Studio at 11am;
  • American Journeys, an interactive concert by teaching artists of the New York
  • Philharmonic who explore the ways that composers in America have expressed stories of immigration and migration through their music at 12:45 pm;
  • At 2:30 pm at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Leslie Fornino’s one-woman show The Story Goes On, her quirky perspective on life told through storytelling, incorporating Broadway and pop tunes;
  • The Metropolitan Opera opens its lobby from 9-10 am and 3-4 pm for visitors to walk up the famous grand staircase of the opera house, admire the iconic crystal chandeliers, and view the two large paintings, almost 26-feet in width, by contemporary artist Cecily
  • Brown, on the Grand Tier and Dress Circle; and
  • The Film Society of Lincoln Center opens the Amphitheater at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center for free programming related to their 50th anniversary from 10:00 am-2:30 pm.

* A limited number of free tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first served basis on Josie Robertson Plaza beginning at 10 am.

The anniversary weekend continues with a Diamond Jubilee Gala fundraiser hosted by Harlem resident Neil Patrick Harris (above) on Sunday, May 5 at 5:30 pm. The evening will honor four families who have had a transformative influence on Lincoln Center: the Audrey and Martin Gruss Family, the Rockefeller Family, the Daisy, and Paul Soros Family, and the Laurie M. Tisch Family. As Lincoln Center renews its commitment to supporting a thriving campus for the next generation, funds raised will help benefit the organization’s artistic and educational activities which reach millions every year on campus and beyond.

A bold idea at the time of its inception, Lincoln Center has grown to become home for eleven distinguished cultural organizations and is an international leader in arts education, serving more than 6 million people on campus annually and millions more through broadcast and digital channels.

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In front of a crowd of 12,000 and a TV audience of millions, President Dwight D. Eisenhower presided over Lincoln Center’s groundbreaking on May 14, 1959. He described it as “a great cultural adventure,” saying, in part, “Here will occur a true interchange of the fruits of national cultures. From this will develop a growth that will spread to the corners of the Earth, bringing with it the kind of human message that only individuals—not governments—can transmit.” The ceremony included a performance of the U.S. national anthem by the New York Philharmonic and Juilliard Chorus, as well as solo performances by singers from The Metropolitan Opera, with Leonard Bernstein as master of ceremonies. Additional history may be found in this photo and video slideshow and at LincolnCenter.org/60.

A schedule of 60th Anniversary Block Party events is available here.

Photo credit: 1) Lincoln Center Groundbreaking Ceremony, May 14, 1959, from Michelle Tabnick. 2) Neil Patrick Harris. 3) Lincoln Center Groundbreaking Ceremony, May 14 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower from Michelle Tabnick.

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