October 24, 2014 / 3:43 PM / 4 years ago

Trip Tips: New York City for music lovers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - There are 8 million rhythms in the naked city.

A man plays an erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument, in the subway following the 14th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in New York, in this February 17, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files

New York is a center for blues, jazz, folk, rock, hip-hop, punk, classical and other musical styles played in its world-class concert halls, dive bars, parks and museums.

The city that never sleeps moves to the beat of many different drummers, from the timpani player at the New York Philharmonic to the street performer skillfully pounding the bottom of an overturned plastic bucket.

Many of New York City's 8.4 million residents were born in another country, which means the typical subway rider has likely commuted to the sounds of an Andean harp, a West African kora, a Chinese erhu or a Caribbean steel drum being played at rush hour as part of the Music Under New York program (web.mta.info/mta/aft/muny/).

Even the subway trains make music to some ears. Fans of the late American composer Leonard Bernstein swear certain subway trains sound the first few notes of his “West Side Story” hit “Somewhere” when they pull out of the station.

Here are tips for music lovers to get the most out of a trip to New York City from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.


New York City’s best known musical landmarks are Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall and Broadway theaters. Each not only offers master performances on stage but also backstage tours, with a favorite being Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera tour, which takes in the scenic and carpentry

shops, rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms and stage area during

the Met performance season. (www.metguild.org/guild/


Those hungry for a different musical experience - and, also, just plain hungry – can try a dinner show like one at the famed Birdland Jazz Club on Midtown Manhattan’s West Side. On Fridays, from 5-7 p.m., musicians who typically play in the pits of nearby Broadway shows gather to perform as the Birdland Big Band

before scattering for the 8 p.m. curtain call of musicals like "The Lion King" and "Chicago." (www.birdlandjazz.com/)

At Ellen's Stardust Diner, a retro 1950s-themed restaurant on Broadway at 50th Street, singing waiters leap onto the divider between the comfy booths and break into pop songs in between serving burgers and shakes. (www.ellensstardustdiner.com/)

Gospel fans head to Harlem for Sunday gospel brunch at Ginny’s Supper Club, which is styled to look like the speakeasies that were popular during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and serves up spiritual music, fried chicken and

collard greens.(here)


A completely different perspective lies across the East River where a converted barge moored near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge serves as the headquarters for Bargemusic. The wood-paneled boat is a floating concert hall for classical music and offers a spectacular view of the historic bridge and Manhattan beyond. (www.bargemusic.org/)

Basement bars like Smalls and The Village Vanguard, one of the world's longest-running jazz clubs, draw jazz lovers to Greenwich Village, where bands play until the wee hours of the morning. (villagevanguard.com/ and smallsjazzclub.com/)

There is also The Stone in the East Village at the corner of Avenue C and Second Street, the city's premier venue for experimental jazz and new music. Located in an unlabeled room with no bar, it hosts the most progressive artists in improvised music and usually attracts a line of fans that stretches down the block. (www.thestonenyc.com/)

Perhaps the quietest musical experience in New York can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a collection of 5,000 musical instruments dates from 300 B.C. to the present and includes such treasures as a Stradivarius violin known as “The Francesca” and a Cristofori grand piano.

Fans line up outside before the start of the 2014 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, in this May 8, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

No touching at the Met but for a little hands-on fun head to Piano Row on 58th Street, where you can stroll through the doors of stunning showrooms such as Beethoven Pianos, Allegro Pianos and Faust Harrison Pianos and tickle the ivories on dozens of Steinways, Grotrians and Bluthners for the small price of listening to a sales pitch. (www.beethovenpianos.com/, www.allegropianos.com/ and www.faustharrisonpianos.com/) A block away and a few steps from Carnegie Hall is Steinway Hall, grand showroom for the famed Steinway pianos (here).

And for a souvenir small enough to fit into your suitcase, vinyl record stores in New York include Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section, which has a wide indie-rock music selection, and Generation Records in Manhattan’s Greenwich

Village, which stocks punk and metal music.

Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jonathan Oatis

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