When the New York Philharmonic canceled its free parks concerts across this city this year, the orchestra was roundly criticized. “Hey, New York! Think you’re first string? Well, think again,” read a bitter editorial in the Daily News. “As far as the New York Philharmonic is concerned, you play second fiddle.” Yesterday, in back-to-back press releases, the Philharmonic announced dates for next year’s parks concerts—July 11 to 17, 2012—as well as a free concert at Avery Fisher on September 10, the eve of the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center.
In an interview with the Times, orchestra president Zarin Mehta explains it was problems with the parks department over this long-planned memorial gift to New York City that’s really to blame for all this trouble.
The philharmonic had also long-ago scheduled an Andrea Bocelli concert in Central Park five days after the 9/11 concert, also planned for Central Park. Because the musicians had a vacation scheduled that week, the orchestra gave them the week of July 11 off instead—what would have been the parks-concert week. Then, early this year, parks told the orchestra that the Great Lawn couldn’t accommodate both concerts; because the complex logistics of the Bocelli concert had already been arranged—sponsors solicited, fees paid, CDs and DVDs scheduled for release, a live broadcast scheduled for television—the 9/11 concert was moved indoors.
But that concert had been meant to be an anchor for the five-boroughs tour. “Without Central Park,” Mehta told the Times, “I can’t afford to do the other boroughs.” And without the terrorists, we wouldn’t have needed any memorial concerts!
“I don’t think we should be criticized for something which was largely not of our making,” Mehta added. “Nobody here is happy about the fact there will be no concerts in the boroughs.” Nobody out here in Brooklyn, either.