MTA Press Releases

Press Release
June 4, 2018
MTA Arts & Design Adds 28 Performers to Music Under New York Program

Photos from This Year’s 31st Annual Auditions Are Available Here

B-Roll Video from This Year’s Auditions Are Available Here


MTA Arts & Design announced today that 28 musical acts have been added to its Music Under New York program following a highly competitive applications process and auditions that were held in May.

MTA Arts & Design received 309 applications to join Music Under New York (MTA MUSIC) this year, out of which 82 finalists were invited to compete in the program’s 31st annual auditions on May 15 in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. Finalists were given 5 minutes at the auditions to perform for a panel judging them on quality, variety, and appropriateness for the transit environment, among other criteria.

“The newest additions to the Music Under New York roster meet the very high expectations of New Yorkers who have come to expect incredible musical experiences in the New York subway,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth. “We continue to be amazed by the unique talents who audition for us each year and we’re excited to host these newest members of MTA Music at our 30 locations throughout the transit network. We hope the riders will be as excited as the judges who selected them.”

During this year’s auditions, the judges and the public were treated to a performance by Alice Tan Ridley, a rhythm and blues vocalist who has been a member of MTA MUSIC for 30 years, during the lunch break.

MTA Arts & Design typically adds approximately 20 acts each year to the MTA MUSIC roster, which includes more than 350 performers representing a wide variety of musical genres and cultures as diverse as New York City itself. Once accepted, MTA MUSIC performers are hosted at approximately 30 high-traffic locations throughout the transit network, including MTA subway stations and commuter rail terminals, with schedules revised every two weeks.  They can be spotted by a bold Music Under New York banner with the name of each act.

As with all performers in the subway system, they must abide by MTA New York City Transit’s Rules of Conduct, which are enforced by the New York Police Department. Applications for MTA MUSIC open each year in January with a deadline for completed submissions online in March. Finalists are invited to audition before judges, and performers are chosen based on their scores from the auditions. Music Under New York is one of many visual and performing arts programs administered by MTA Arts & Design to enhance the station environment for customers.

This year’s additions to MTA MUSIC are: 

Drew Anderson

New Orleans trio



Middle Eastern music


Nina Blue



Bluegrass Collusion

Bluegrass band


Joya Bravo

Electric violin with looping


Charvyl Martinez Calvo

Trova music


Nirmal Chandraratna

Cello and vocals with loop pedal


Lee England Jr.

“The Soul Violinist”



Electric cello, pop & classical


Flute Swept

Flute quartet


Goin Local Duo



Matthew Jamal

Bass and looping


Dijwar Karaman

Kurdish music


Lauren Magarelli & the beBhakti Band

Inspirational music


Metropolitan Horn Authority

Modern French horn quartet



A capella ensemble


Nasim Siddeeq

Rhythm and blues guitar and vocals


Sheriff and the Deputy

Country and bluegrass group


Eliya Siani 

Pop violinist


Spellbound Strings 

String quartet


John Streetz         

Rhythm and blues, rock and blues


The Beautiful Distortion

Heavy acoustic rock


The Ladybugs

Dreamy Latin cowboy jazz


The New York Nightingales

Vintage jazz trio


Toni Ann Semple Trio

Neo-jazz Native American


Ukulele Time Machine     

Ukulele pop covers


Underground Drummers

Drumming duo


Sharon Yung

Classical violin



About Music Under New York (MTA MUSIC)

Through Music Under New York (formerly known as MUNY), more than 350 individual performers and ensembles participate in more than 7,500 performances in approximately 30 locations throughout the transit system annually. A variety of performers entertain the public, such as classical strings, jazz ensembles, world music bands, folk, a cappella groups, singer-songwriters and more, playing instruments ranging from Gambian kora, Korean drum, West Indian steel drums, Andean pipes, cello, Celtic and baroque harps to guitars, violins, hammered dulcimers and musical saws.


About MTA Arts & Design:

MTA Arts & Design encourages the use of mass transit in the metropolitan New York area by providing visual and performing arts in the transit environment. The MTA Percent for Art program is one of the largest and most diverse collections of public art in the world, with close to 300 commissioned works by well-known, mid-career and emerging artists including Jacob Lawrence, Nancy Spero, Romare Bearden, Milton Glaser, Xenobia Bailey, Elizabeth Murray, Roy Lichtenstein, Shinique Smith, Al Held, Duke Riley, Faith Ringgold, Vik Muniz, Sarah Sze and Mickalene Thomas. Arts & Design produces award-winning graphic and digital art, photography installations, live musical performances, the Poetry in Motion program and other special events. It serves more than 2.6 billion people who ride MTA subways and trains each year and strives to create meaningful connections between sites, neighborhoods, and people. To learn more, visit or follow on Twitter at @MTAArtsDesign.