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American Symphony Orchestra

Full orchestra led by Music Director Leon Botstein
September 7, 2023, 7:00pm–8:15pm

Leon Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra in a program highlighting the different forms of expression and musical languages that emerged following World War I such as dance, theater and jazz.

In the years immediately following World War I, the American artistic scene experienced an extraordinary burst of creativity. Responding to the horror and brutality of that war, artists, writers and composers rejected the exalted ideals of the previous century, focusing instead on creating new means of expression, ones that would accurately reflect the realities this new age required. With Jazz, many American composers found a new source of inspiration, one distinctly American, as well as thoroughly fresh, modern and exciting. Some of the works offered in this program reflect this fascination in the Roaring Twenties with this language, with its irresistible rhythmic energy and catchy melodies. Other composers sought to push the boundaries of musical expression with radical, “ultra-modern” languages. Whether by polytonality, jagged counterpoint and asymmetric ostinatos or brash atonality – in which melody, harmony and rhythm are harshly distorted and deconstructed – the experimental impulses of this generation are presented here in its arguably finest exponents.


George Antheil (1900-1959)
A Jazz Symphony, 1925, rev. 1955

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953)
Music for Small Orchestra, 1926

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Music for the Theatre, 1925

Florence Price (1887-1953)
Andante moderato for string orchestra, 1929

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951)
Krazy Kat, 1921

The American Symphony Orchestra is a New York-based American orchestra, founded in 1962, dedicated to providing great music for everyone. The ASO chamber series features musician-curated programs that represent the diverse perspectives across New York City and worldwide, through explorations of the many styles and genres of American music. 

Stream the full concert here

Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America is a free outdoor festival that welcomes all New Yorkers to experience the city’s vibrant arts and culture. The series provides a platform for extraordinary artists and serves as a vital outdoor venue for a wide array of New York’s cultural institutions.

On the lawn

Bring your own picnic or purchase food and drinks from tents on the east side of the lawn. Attendees can enjoy cuisine from the five boroughs with a rotating line-up of artisanal vendors curated by Hester Street Fair.

Stout NYC also offers giant pretzels, gourmet popcorn and other light bites as well as a selection of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.

Bryant Park lends out hundreds of free blankets on a first-come, first-served basis, or bring your own cotton or fleece blanket. To protect the lawn, please do not sit on waterproof materials such as plastic tarps, yoga mats, or inflatable chairs. 

Take a seat in one of the pre-set chairs on the lawn or grab a chair from the gravel. You can use a chair anywhere in the park except for the center lawn "blanket zone". 

Find a parachute, giant Jenga, and more fun on the east side of the lawn at select events. 

We love dogs, but dog urine can leave the lawn with bald spots. Dogs are welcome on the gravel and bluestone, but please do not bring dogs on the lawn. 

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 on Twitter and Instagram for day-of event updates. You can also check the lawn status on the homepage.

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