Live performances return to the subway as part of ‘Music Under New York’ program

May 21, 2021

Photo: Patrick Carey/ MTA on Flickr

It’s music to our ears. Live music will return to subway platforms across the city next month as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “Music Under New York” program. The program, which typically includes thousands of live shows performed each year, will resume June 4, about 14 months after public performances were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Led by MTA Arts & Design, Music Under New York, also known as MTA MUSIC, began in 1985 as a pilot program. After positive feedback from the public, the initiative was made permanent two years later.

Each year, Music Under New York includes more than 350 individual performers and music ensembles participating in over 12,500 performances at 35 spots throughout the subway system, according to the MTA. Musicians of all genres participate.

“The last year has been difficult for these artists just as they have been difficult for the entire city,” Sandra Bloodworth, the director of MTA Arts & Design, said. “To see Music Under New York return is the product of hard work from so many and I am thrilled that our customers will once again get to experience the power and joy that this program has long been known for.”

“No one has to tell a New Yorker why the arts are so important, but the absence of live performance over the last year has only served to reinforce their cultural significance. After 14 months of missing them, today is a special day,” Bloodworth said.

Longtime participants The Opera Collective and Diverse Concert Artists joined the MTA at the 72nd Street station on Thursday to announce the program’s return.

“Of all the preeminent stages in this incredible city, we view MTA MUSIC as one of the most important,” Rachel Hibbert, member of The Opera Collective, said. “We have the unique potential and ability to make music for everyone, not just those who can afford a seat in a theater. What greater audience could there be than the entire City of New York? Magic happens with MTA MUSIC.”

The return of Music Under New York comes just days after 24-hour service resumed, and as the MTA launched a new campaign aimed at getting riders back on the subway and buses as the city continues to recover from the pandemic.

Subway ridership, which would regularly exceed 5.5 million riders per day pre-pandemic and dropped to as low as 278,067 riders on April 12, 2020, is slowly climbing. According to the MTA, on May 10, the system saw 2.2 million straphangers, a new single-day record since the start of the pandemic.


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