Phil-ing in! Join the New York Philharmonic for a night

Backyard band: Maestro Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic — and audience members — in a free performance of Antonín Dvoƙák’s New World Symphony on June 16.
Brooklyn Paper
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They’ll let anyone into the New York Philharmonic these days!

New York City’s premier orchestra is inviting audience members to play along during its free concert in Prospect Park on June 16. The New York Philharmonic will welcome all comers to join in for a short section of Antonín Dvorák’s “New World Symphony,” an event that will give amateur musicians a chance to dust off their instruments and brag that they have played with the acclaimed orchestra, according to the ensemble’s chief historian.

“I would guess there’s a fair number of people who would like to say they’ve performed with the New York Philharmonic, and this is their chance,” said Barbara Haws, archivist and historian for the orchestra.

The Philharmonic is providing online sheet music and practice videos for the “Largo” section of the Bohemian composer’s magnum opus so that would-be Philharmonic members can bone up on their craft. And for the amateurs who don’t do their homework, conductor Alan Gilbert will give a brief lesson before leading his audience in the two-minute performance.

Those without instruments can also join in. Singers will be guided through a rendition of “Goin’ Home,” a choral piece that accompanies the music.

Inviting the unwashed, untrained masses to perform Dvorák’s masterpiece may sound like an insult to the composer, but that could not be further from the truth, according to Haws. The Bohemian immigrant to New York was one of the city’s first truly egalitarian composers, and he led a music conservatory that was open to men — and to women — of all races, a rarity during the 1890s, said Haws.

“I think he would actually be thrilled,” the historian said.

This is the first time New York Philharmonic has invited audience members to play along for a section of the show, and there is one concern vexing the orchestra’s resident historian — that an audience equipped with musical instruments might not be as quiet as they should be.

“If I had one worry, it’s that people might continue playing throughout the concert,” Haws said.

So put your instruments away as soon as the starts, please.

Play along with the New York Philharmonic at Prospect Park’s Long Meadow Ballfields [enter at 15th Street and Prospect Park Southwest in Park Slope, (718) 965–8951,]. June 16 at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:58 pm, July 9, 2018
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