Following a two year long hiatus, Bryant Park Picnic Performances welcomes back our famous Accordion Festival on September 16 with bands spotlighting masterful free reed instrument players from cultures around the world. Join us for full sets from the Heart of Afghanistan project featuring Afghani music icon Ahmad Fanoos and his sons, who recently relocated to the US from Afghanistan; two Ukrainian ensembles drawing musical inspiration from their home country, the traditional Ukrainian Village Voices and the more experimental Balaklava Blues; and the Mexican Independence Day premiere of Cinco12: The Music of Selena, performing the music of the late pop star Selena, an icon who openly celebrated her Chicana identity and served as a representation for the hopes and aspirations for many. Join us as we honor the accordion as an instrument that overcomes borders with love, hope, freedom, empathy, and fun!
The Heart of Afghanistan features four brilliant Afghan musicians: famed singer and Afghan TV star Ahmad Fanoos on vocals & harmonium, his sons Elham Fanoos on piano and Mehran Fanoos on violin, and Hamid Habibzada on tabla. Unable to perform inside Afghanistan today, where the Taliban has banned all music, the group, recently reunited, carries the flame of Afghanistan’s rich and complex musical heritage, from its pre-Islamic Buddhist period to the modern era. Included in the program will be traditional ghazals based on the Sufi-inspired poetry of Rumi (who was born in Afghanistan), Afghan folk music, and the iconic hits of legendary singer Ahmad Zahir, first recorded in the 60s and 70s and still wildly popular today.
Ukrainian Village Voices (UVV) is a New York City-based collective of Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian singers, whose mission is to preserve and revive the polyphonic singing style of Ukraine’s villages. Since 2013, the ensemble has performed for various audiences in the United States and Canada, in venues ranging from folk music festivals to museums, theaters, libraries to street, radio and webcast concerts. UVV has been featured at Brooklyn Folk Festival, Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, Roots n' Ruckus Fest, Saint George Ukrainian Festival, Brooklyn International Music Fest, Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival, and the Ivan Honchar Museum in Kyiv.
Balaklava Blues is the brainchild of Mark and Marichka Marczyk, creators of the multi-award winning guerrilla-folk-opera Counting Sheep and leaders of the mighty Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Canada’s notorious 12 piece balkan-party-punk-massive. Falling somewhere between a traditional song cycle and a full blown techno show, the duo fuses Ukrainian polyphony and other folk traditions with EDM, trap, dubstep, and more as a launching pad to explore the seemingly never-ending blues that have long emanated from the Ukrainian steppe. The two met there during the 2014 revolution of dignity and ever since, have dedicated their creative energy to telling the stories of their home country to the world. Their 2015 play Counting Sheep garnered major critical acclaim winning several awards at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe – including a Fringe First award and Amnesty International’s Freedom of Speech award. It has since had multiple successful runs in The US, UK and Germany. Balaklava Blues music is a reclamation of the violence perpetrated on their home country. Through their music, they redesign and remix physical and psychological oppression and question how and why it continues to inform who we are and what we can become.
Cinco12: The Music of Selena is a project that honors the music of the late and beloved Selena Quintanilla Perez, bringing to life many of Selena's best known songs of love and longing. Just as the "Queen of Tejano" transcended racial, cultural, and linguistic lines, this diverse Brooklyn-based band does the same, made up of well-versed musicians who typically play in the Latin, Balkan, Brazilian, Klezmer, rock, and classical scenes.
Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America showcases live and in-person music, dance, and theater events produced in partnership with a diverse and storied lineup of New York City’s performing arts institutions. All performances are free to the public and designed to be enjoyed casually – no tickets required—with ample seating available and free picnic blankets to borrow.
Borrow a picnic blanket or chair – or bring your own. Bryant Park blankets and chairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Attendees may bring their own food or purchase from on-site food and beverage vendors near the Lawn. At most performances, attendees can purchase food from a rotating line-up of local NYC vendors curated by Hester Street Fair. At all performances, Stout NYC offers cheese and charcuterie boards as well as a selection of beer, wine, frosé, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.
Performances are cancelled when it is unsafe to be outdoors. In some cases, the Lawn may be too wet to open but the performance may continue. Follow @bryantparknyc for day-of event updates.
COVID-19 vaccinations and masks are not currently required but Bryant Park will continue to monitor and follow updated New York City and New York State COVID-19 guidelines throughout the summer as necessary.