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MTA Arts & Design Welcomes 28 Performers to Music Under New York

The stage is empty. The instruments are back in their cases. And the scores have been tallied.

MTA Arts & Design have invited 28 groups and soloists to join Music Under New York (MTA MUSIC) following the program’s 30th annual auditions and its most competitive to date.  

A record 335 performers applied to join this year, thanks in part to the applications process becoming web-based in January. Sixty-five finalists were invited to perform live before a panel of judges and the public at the annual auditions, held this year on May 18 at Grand Central Terminal. This year's auditions also marked a milestone for the program, which was founded in 1987. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the auditions, three musical acts who successfully auditioned 30 years ago -- cellist Sean Grissom, violinist James Graseck and classical group West Village Quartet -- returned for a special lunchtime concert during the auditions. 

Music Under New York started as a 3.5-month-long pilot in 1985 and was officially added to MTA Arts & Design’s public arts programming in 1987. To mark the occasion, MTA Arts & Design commissioned illustrator Joan Chiverton to live-sketch the auditions, from the opening speech to every finalist. An animation of the sketches, set to the music of Sean Grissom, is available for viewing on MTA Arts & Design's Facebook page.

Finalists who were invited to audition were scored on criteria such as variety and appropriateness for the mass transit environment. The judges included representatives from cultural institutions, music professionals and MTA operations staff. Once accepted into the program, performers are scheduled at 30 select high-traffic locations within the New York City Transit system and at MTA commuter rail stations. 

“This year’s auditions showcased Music Under New York’s continued success in attracting some of the most talented performers in and around New York, and our musicians from 30 years ago reminded us of the rich history of this program. We welcome this new group of musicians and can’t wait to see how they will engage our customers with their talents,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth.  

This year’s additions to MTA MUSIC are:

South American music 

Rob Armus one-man band

Big Mama soul singer

Carla Bordonada piano & pop singer

Calliope Brass female brass quintet

Anthony Carrera world music: sitar, handpan, guitar

German Cova flamenco guitar

Guy Daniels singer/songwriter, guitarist  

Adrian DiMatteo blues, jazz trio

Gemini Hasu neo tribal: koto & djembe drum

Jorge Glem Venezuelan folk, cuatro

Nathan Gosselin  classical flute

Matt Grabowski singer/songwriter

Heartland Nomads American roots band

Robert Lind ragtime piano

Luca Bertaglia Project jazz, funk ensemble

Mario Forte jazz & world music duo

Oak & Ash rock, pop, soul band 

Carly Ozard pop & cabaret singer

Parranda Vallenata Colombian vallenato music

Felipe Pavani Brazilian & American pop

Jonathan Russell violin & looping  

Sterling Strings classical & contemporary ensemble

TOO MANY ZOOZ brass house trio

Hui Wang erhu

Chris Zurich guitar & vocals

HeaveN Beatbox “music all from the mouth”

High & Mighty brass ensemble