While the best part of a choir’s time might be spent behind the scenes, learning new songs and practicing their art, there’s no doubt that the most exciting bits are when they are onstage. And few things bring more excitement to a traveling choir group than performing in some well-known city (New York, for instance) or in a musically hallowed space (like Carnegie Hall).
Realistically, budgets play a big part in student choir travel planning. So we’ve included a few budget-friendly options on our list of great performance spaces in New York; a couple are even outdoors. And this is far from a complete list; for more resources, you can check out this link from NYCGO.com and this one from Columbia University.
Obviously, before booking a venue, you need to find out what equipment and services come with the space, whether you have to clear your song list with the management, if you’ll need insurance and other questions. That’s standard stuff for student travel planning. So without further delay, let’s look at an eclectic mix of seven spaces for musical group performance in NYC. Many you’ll know; a few might be new. Let’s get started!
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, for one thing. Also, you can rent one of the three performance areas in this best-known of American music venues. The Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage is the largest (and perhaps the most familiar to PBS viewers); this grand space has excellent acoustics and 2,804 seats spread out on five levels. Zankel Hall is the newest space; it’s a more intimate, 599-seat auditorium that regularly features chamber music, jazz and world music performances by great artists. As a bonus, groups can schedule a two-hour rehearsal period with the House Manager’s Office. Weill Recital Hall is the smallest venue. It seats 268 in elegant surroundings that often host chamber music concerts and master classes. Groups can also schedule rehearsal time in Weill Hall with the management.
The Town Hall
Built in 1921 and designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White , the Town Hall has long been a landmark (as in National Historic Landmark) as well as a performing venue. Its 1,500-seat theater routinely houses musical performances of all kinds, from Bob Dylan to Portuguese fado. And it’s no stranger to education, hosting thousands of visiting school kids each year. Rental comes with event publicity support, traditional concert lighting and use of a concert grand piano (although you have to pay a mandatory tuning charge).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is way more than just an art museum. It also hosts a series of educational and performing spaces that can be rented out for various events. For choir groups, the most interesting is the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. Built in 1954 and now completely equipped with digital audio consoles, a built-in projection screen and video projector, and a Steinway concert grand piano, this 708-seat auditorium has excellent acoustics and is often used to host concerts, recitals and graduations. It’s available to rent before, during and after museum hours for nonprofit organizations.
Having hosted an Ed Sheeran concert in the not too distant past, Ellis Island is both a national monument and a performance venue. Surely, that’s a unique combination! When you book Ellis Island, you get the entire area to yourself, and you can choose to perform indoors or out. Add in views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, and it’s a stunning backdrop for your choir.
Another NYC standby and PBS favorite, Lincoln Center hosts many musical events throughout the year. The Center’s Young Music Makers Series is especially awesome for visiting school choirs and choruses; as part of this program, groups can perform on Lincoln Center’s outdoor plazas. Chairs and electricity are provided, and the performances are open to the public for no charge. Schools outside the tri-state area are eligible to participate in this program as part of a scheduled tour of the Lincoln Center campus.
Of course, you can also rent Lincoln Center’s celebrated performing spaces. In addition to the massive and iconic David Geffen Hall, these include the recently-renovated Alice Tully Hall (favored by Julliard) and the chic Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse.
New York City Parks
New York is home to a huge number of city parks, as well as state and national parks. If your group is on a tight budget, performing at a New York City park can be a very cost-effective move. If you want to reserve a space or if your group has more than 20 members (and choirs usually do), you’ll need a permit. The good news is that you’ll have a lot of parks to choose from in all five boroughs, and you may not have to shell out more than the basic $25 processing fee.
New York City Center
Manhattan’s first performing arts center, New York City Center is home to several acclaimed dance and theater companies. Its ties to scholastic life are strong, as it brings a dance and musical theatre outreach program to thousands of local children each year. Its mainstage theater seats a capacious 2,257 and features a state-of-the art sound system, plenty of lighting, and all the amenities you’d expect of a Broadway theatre. Three smaller studios, which seat from 50 to 200 people, are also available for rent.
Singing in public is a thrill for school choir groups. Why not give them an even greater thrill by booking one of these performance venues in New York City?