We asked Lincoln Center staffers what they’re excited to see this summer. Here’s what they said:

If you want to find peace in virtuosity.

Derek Gripper
Thursday, June 22 at 7:30 pm
David Rubenstein Atrium
Atrium 360°

The kora is among my top three favorite sounds in the universe. Toumani Diabaté is widely regarded as one of the greatest kora masters, so when I heard that a South African guitarist was taking on his repertoire, I was skeptical. But when I heard Derek Gripper live at Carnegie Hall last year, my doubts were put to rest. I was dazzled by his ability to transform the sounds of a 21-string instrument to his six-string guitar. If I closed my eyes, I might not have been able to tell the difference.


Derek Gripper

But Derek is more than just an esoteric cover artist. What he accomplishes is the musical version of walking in someone else’s shoes. I appreciate how he has been influenced musically by the kora but also philosophically by the griot oral tradition in which it’s passed down. It builds a more personal connection to the music and its history, which he uses to reshape his relationship to Western classical music. I checked off a bucket list item when I saw Toumani Diabaté at the Fez Sacred Music Festival last month and I can’t wait to get more of this sound at this show. Your heart rate will slow, you’ll melt into your seat, and take a 90-minute vacation from the city. And you’ll probably weep.

MEERA DUGAL is the Programming Manager at the David Rubenstein Atrium. She is deeply passionate about music from West and North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and has a special interest in Moroccan gnawa music.

If you want to fall in love with New York City.

Midsummer Night Swing
Tuesday, June 27–Saturday, July 15
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Damrosch Park

It was a weird time in New York when a new friend, whom I’d met through another new friend, invited me to Midsummer Night Swing for the first time. It was June 2002 and I’d lived in New York City for exactly one year. Williamsburg was still a few grimy music venues, a Thai restaurant, and a bunch of railroad apartments making roommate life super awkward. It was during that summer that Carrie Bradshaw declared: “You only get one great love, New York may just be mine.”

Nine months earlier, I had gotten out of the subway on my way to my first post-college job to see the Twin Towers on fire. So when I arrived to that first dance lesson on the Lincoln Center plaza, and my new friend (who is now an old friend) helped me with a few basic swing steps, and the sun set, and a big band summoned up that timeless romantic power of Manhattan, I also fell in love with this city. For me—and thousands of other revelers—Midsummer Night Swing is a rite of passage, marking the arrival of summer and celebrating the one thing that doesn’t change in a city that is always changing: that euphoric energy that comes from our connection to other people of all ages and backgrounds.

AMANDA MAC BLANE is Senior Writer/Editor at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She is also an oboist, singer, Francophile, and urban explorer who lives with her husband and two children in Washington Heights.

If you want to explore the psychology of human behavior.

Opening Skinner’s Box
July 10–12 at 8:00 pm
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
Lincoln Center Festival

A devised theater piece about the psychology behind human behavior terrifies me, which is exactly why I can’t wait to see it. In this tense political time, a theatrical meditation on the motivations behind human actions and interactions might give us some context—for better or worse—for what we’re seeing around us. The U.K. theater company Improbable has a reputation for creating work that is inventive and electrifying, so I have no doubt that this work will live up to its accolades. I just hope they don’t start experimenting on the audience.
ALESSANDRA MOST is Manager of Family Programming at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and is an avid consumer of any theatrical works that are British and devised.

If you want to have a Shiner Bock and learn the Texas Two-Step.

Texas Dance Hall Tour with Dale Watson & Ray Benson
Friday, July 14 at 6:00 pm
Damrosch Park
Midsummer Night Swing

As a native West Texan, I’ve been listening to this music since birth. Ray is a member of Asleep at the Wheel, my dad’s favorite band, and I’ve traveled to see them play at Austin City Limits for years. Known as the National Band of Texas, they’re a staple of country music and Texas swing in the style of the legendary Bob Wills. They’re a Texas treasure and New Yorkers are lucky to have this chance to experience their music—as well as the culturally important legacy of Texas dance halls like Gruene Hall and the Broken Spoke—on the open-air dance floor at Lincoln Center.


17 Shows We Have to See This Summer
Photo by Lisa Pollard
Dale Watson and Ray Benson

It’s also the perfect setting for our annual Young Patrons Summer Swing Party. I am excited to introduce quintessential Texas honky-tonk to all the Young Patrons, complete with Texas-style barbecue, Shiner Bock, and hopefully some Blue Bell ice cream. My dad might even fly up to NYC to make a guest appearance and help everyone learn how to two-step (it’s easy—everyone can do it!). I will add, he doesn't really enjoy coming to New York because he dresses like a cowboy and everyone stops him on the street to take his picture. Honestly, I think Dale and Ray are the only people that could get him up here!


KATHRYN PETERSON is the Manager of Individual Giving and oversees Lincoln Center Young Patrons. She grew up in rural west Texas on a black angus cattle ranch and attended The Juilliard School for French Horn.

If you want to open your mind.


Prime Time: A Reunion

Part of Ornette Coleman: Tomorrow is the Question

Friday, July 14 at 8:00 pm

Alice Tully Hall

Lincoln Center Festival


I never really knew much about jazz. But when I moved to Harlem after grad school, I found myself getting the education I always lacked. Live jazz could be heard everywhere, from the elegant Minton’s stage to the casual brownstone nook that is Bill’s Place to the snazzy underground bar at Ginny’s Supper Club, flooding into the streets at night. Prime Time may not have been a straight-up jazz ensemble, marking one of many stylistic departures for Ornette Coleman, but their reunion at Alice Tully Hall is the performance I’m most excited for this summer at Lincoln Center. Still a Harlem resident six years later, I have developed a profound appreciation for the art that defined, and continues to define, my adopted home. Ornette’s funk fusion band found its roots in jazz, an art form that allowed me to appreciate a whole new side of music; the band’s ability to create entirely new languages from these roots has inspired me to keep my ears and mind open.


KAITLYN ZAFONTE is the Associate Editor at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. A former ballet dancer, she holds a master’s degree in English & American Literature from Fordham University and can be found preparing vegan cuisine, wandering around Central Park, or doting on her rescue cat.

17 Shows We Have to See This Summer
Photo by Didier Nadeau
While I Was Waiting

If you want to see a different Syria from what’s in the news. 

While I Was Waiting
Mohammad Al Attar / Omar Abusaada
Wednesday–Friday, July 19–21 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, July 22 at 2:00 pm
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
Lincoln Center Festival

Playwright Mohammad Al Attar said in an interview, “My writing at the moment has many faults because there is no distance or time to absorb what is happening and reflect on it. But I feel an urgency to write now rather than later.” His words resonate with me, because that is exactly how I felt while fighting as a Marine in Iraq. I turned to the arts hoping to reach an audience that was otherwise unfamiliar with the intimacy and immediacy of the conflict raging in and around those experiencing war. His play is not only relevant now, offering a perspective on a war that had a global impact, it also offers a deeply personal look at a conflict whose ripples touch the very heart of humanity: our families and ourselves.

ED WALSH is the Veteran and Community Relations Manager at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. 

If you want to rediscover wonder. 

Il N’est Pas Encore Minuit
Compagnie XY
Wednesday–Saturday, July 19–22 at 8:00 pm
Rose Theater
Lincoln Center Festival

Not only does this show by the renowned French circus collective expand outside the boundaries of what we expect to see in a theater, it also broadens our understanding of what is possible for humans to achieve. For me, this performance is going to be in some ways an escape, as it comes stripped of most of the political baggage that so many theater pieces have these days. To find an opportunity to spend a couple of hours thinking about nothing other than the awe-inspiring flips, jumps, and throws that are happening before my eyes is something that I’m very much looking forward to.

GEORGE DILTHEY is the Department Coordinator for Lincoln Center Festival. He is also a cellist in the Greenwich Village Orchestra.

If you want to go big for Balanchine. 

Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet
Thursday, July 20 
(Additional performances July 21–23)
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center Festival

Typically, I swoon for storybook ballets, but Jewels is an exception. I’ve only seen each act separately (my favorite is Rubies) and never at this caliber. I’m excited for the 50th anniversary extras, like an opening-night dinner and the after-party at Tavern on the Green. I’ll probably be there working, but just the opportunity to be part of the evening alongside these incredible casts and creative teams, and some lucky donors and dance lovers, is going to be unforgettable.
T. MICHELLE MURPHY is a Writer for Planning & Development at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She is also a playwright, theater journalist, and Associate Artist with UglyRhino.

If you want insight into Israeli identity.

To the End of the Land
Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv / Ha’Bima National Theatre
Monday–Thursday, July 24–27 at 7:30 pm
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
Lincoln Center Festival

Based on David Grossman’s novel of the same title, To the End of the Land follows the lives of three Israelis who met as teenagers during the Six-Day War in 1967. While an exploration of Jewish identity isn’t unfamiliar or unusual in New York theater, an exploration of Israeli identity is more so, representing a relevant and distinct shift in focus. What it means to be Israeli is interesting for a number of reasons. Having now had multiple generations of land-born citizens and very few Holocaust survivors still living, Israel’s relationship with its own history and memory is changing radically. Additionally, we Americans are living in a political climate in which Israel’s relationship with the countries that surround it might be the most contested, heated, and seemingly insurmountable issue of our time. Understanding Israel’s history and how its people have grown up, fallen in love, and started families with a backdrop of endless conflict is a necessary first step to even begin to examine the country's various political positions today. As someone who was raised in an Jewish-American household, where discussions about Israel are common without any of us having an Israeli experience, it is a narrative of particular interest to me.

EMILY KLING is the Institutional Marketing Coordinator at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

If you want to feel uplifted. 

The Singing Heart
Special Opening-Night Presentation
Tuesday, July 25 at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, July 26 at 8:00 pm
David Geffen Hall
Mostly Mozart Festival


17 Shows We Have to See This Summer
Photo by Stephanie Berger
Young People's Chorus NYC

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about music is that it is a common language that unites a variety of people from different backgrounds and experiences. For me, there is nothing more inspiring than a choir of voices coming together to share their love for singing. For the opening of this year’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra will be joined by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and the Concert Chorale of New York—bringing over 100 voices together onstage—representing the rich diversity of New York City, the strength of our community, and hope for the future.

 GILLIAN CAMPBELL is the Manager of Rights & Media at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She grew up acting and singing in New Hampshire where she sang in a variety of choirs, including both Classical and Jazz All-State.


17 Shows We Have to See This Summer
Photo by Richard Termine
Louis Langrée and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

This program, with its multigenerational choirs, makes me feel nostalgic for the summers I spent at music camp. Now that I'm an adult and still sing choral music, I understand the teamwork required to make such a musically diverse program sound great, making me even more excited about The Singing Heart. Plus, the way it pairs Mozart and Beethoven with traditional songs and spirituals from around the world makes for the sort of program we all need right now, no matter who we are or how old we are.

LISA GROW is the Director of Marketing & Audience Development at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to singing with The Dessoff Choirs, you can find her at anything from Loft Opera to a Metallica show.

If you like your ballet with bravura.

Bolshoi Ballet 
The Taming of the Shrew 

Ballet in two acts by Jean-Christophe Maillot
Wednesday–Friday, July 26–28 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 29 at 2:30 and 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 30 at 2:30 pm
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center Festival 

For as long as I can remember, I have been an enormous ballet enthusiast, starting from when I was a child growing up in Connecticut. I’ve always wanted to see the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet perform. To be able to see them live this summer is really a dream come true for me. I am enamored with the details of ballet, with its precision: the footwork, the arm movements, the timing, and how in tune the dancers are with the music. They make me want to work harder at what I do each day after seeing what they go through to achieve their goals. The Bolshoi is known for their bravura and athleticism, and I’m really interested to see how they treat the comedic aspects of Shakespeare’s play. Plus, I’ll get to see another side of them in Jewels! 

MEREDITH PAHOULIS is the Digital Art Director at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She also plays cello in an amateur orchestra in Manhattan and enjoys photography and traveling to faraway places.

If you want to put the fun back in activism.

Nosotros Festival
Las Cafeteras
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Helado Negro
Xenia Rubinos
featuring poets La Bruja, Felipe Luciano, and Bonafide Rojas
Thursday, July 27 at 7:00 pm
Damrosch Park
Lincoln Center Out of Doors

There are musicians out there who’ve been activists from the start—addressing issues like unity, identity, equality, workers’ rights, feminism, and immigrant rights—either explicitly or simply by existing and creating art. What could be more relevant now? I love music that’s fearless, honest, and positive, while also being great to dance to, which is what drew me to join the band Pistolera 12 years ago.
Nosotros Festival is an amazing lineup of musicians and spoken-word artists that recognize the work that needs to be done and give us the inspiration we need to keep moving. It’s a party with an important message. I’ve seen Las Cafeteras get cool New York crowds up on their feet and singing along. I saw Xenia Rubinos at Cameo Gallery before it closed and it was an over-fire-capacity dance party. There’s no reason activism can’t also be a really good time.

EILEEN WILLIS is the Editorial Director at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She’s also the accordion player in Pistolera and the bilingual kids’ band Moona Luna, and plays accordion and bass with singer-songwriter Ani Cordero.

If you want to feel the power of music to connect people.

Nomadic Nights: H’sao
Friday, July 28 at 8:00 pm
Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse
Lincoln Center Festival


17 Shows We Have to See This Summer
Photo by Laetitia Jourdan

H’Sao—a quartet that bases its music on the a capella traditions of their native Chad while folding in influences from their current home of Montreal—captures so much of what I love about singing and the power of music: a group of people who come together and create something great not in spite of their different experiences and influences, but because of them. H’Sao gives the type performance that sticks with you well after it’s over, and makes you think as much as it makes you feel.

K’IDAR MILLER is the Manager of Community Engagement Programs at Lincoln Center Education.

If you want to hear music in everyday sounds.

Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Louis Langrée, conductor
Sō Percussion

Tuesday and Wednesday, August 1–2 at 7:30 pm
David Geffen Hall 
Mostly Mozart Festival

In the middle of a program of Mozart and Lully favorites is the piece that I find most intriguing in all of our summer programming. It’s the New York premiere of David Lang’s man-made featuring Sō Percussion. I first heard Sō Percussion years ago at an outdoor performance of John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit presented by Miller Theatre. They were part of a large ensemble of 99 percussionists performing on sirens, conch shells, toy pianos, and hand-made instruments (among the more traditional variety), and in that immersive experience began a love of found-object music. I’m enchanted by the whimsy of it and how it gets me hearing everyday sounds in a new way. I’ve never seen found-object percussion paired with orchestra, and I can’t wait!
REBECCA POPP is the Assistant Director of Institutional Marketing at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

If you want a crash course in film history.

Bollywood Boulevard: A Journey Through Hindi Cinema
Thursday, August 3 at 7:30 pm
Damrosch Park
Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Beyond a dance genre on the television show So You Think You Can Dance and the film Slumdog Millionaire, I know little about Bollywood. But its lavish spectacle has wormholed into my brain and I’m fascinated to see it come together in this fusion of music, dance, and visual art. I can’t think of a better crash course in India’s film history than to have it unfold in an elaborately choreographed production set to an original animated film.
AMANDA ANGEL is the Associate Director of Public Relations at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. A cultural omnivore, her interests range from professional sports to contemporary art.

If you want to hear the music born of a famous Romantic-era love story.

Brahms Symphony No. 1
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

Louis Langrée, conductor
Kirill Gerstein, piano
Tuesday and Wednesday, August 15–16 at 7:30 pm 
David Geffen Hall
Pre-concert recital at 6:30 pm

A Little Night Music
Kirill Gerstein, piano 

Wednesday, August 16 at 10:00 pm
Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse
Mostly Mozart Festival

August 16’s program is in fact a trilogy—a pre-concert recital, a Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra concert, and a late-night performance—held together by the complicated relationship between three people: Robert Schumann, his wife Clara Wieck Schumann, and their friend Johannes Brahms. In the pre-concert recital, soprano Susanna Phillips and Louis Langrée (in his Mostly Mozart piano debut!) perform the gorgeous song cycle A Woman's Love and Life, written by Robert Schumann at his happiest time, just before his marriage to Clara. 

Louis moves to the podium for the Festival Orchestra performance, which features Kirill Gerstein performing a Brahms piece written to honor the memory of Robert shortly after his death; Robert’s Piano Concerto, written for and premiered by Clara; and finally Brahms’s monumental First Symphony, which took him 14 years to complete. Listen for the soaring French horn theme in the final movement of the symphony, which is sometimes referred to as "Clara's theme.” Then, in his late-night program at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, Gerstein performs music by Brahms and Clara Schumann. It’s one of classical music’s most famous "love" stories, and it unfolds tonight through the beautiful music that it created.

HANAKO YAMAGUCHI is the Director of Music Programming at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. A pianist, oboist, and lifelong Brahms lover, her senior thesis was a rhythmic analysis of the first movement of the Brahms Clarinet Trio. When not listening to live music, she enjoys spending time with her family.

If you want to see a Colombian bullerengue legend.

Emilsen Pacheco with Bulla en el Barrio
Thursday, August 24 at 7:30 pm
David Rubenstein Atrium
Atrium 360°

Every year between 2006 and 2012, I traveled for weeks at a time to the Atlantic coast of Colombia, visiting Cartagena, Palenque, Santa Marta, and San Jacinto. It was during this time that I was exposed to so much new music, meeting many musicians and learning the history of the region. Simultaneously, in NYC, I was meeting a lot of Colombian expat musicians and taking part in the growing scene. 

Drummer, singer, composer, and dancer Emilsen Pacheco inherited the bullerengue tradition from his father and is now the living and breathing essence of this sacred ancestral music. Emilsen is also an artisan, skilled with the ability to build and manufacture his own drums. He writes and composes at least one song a day, and he dedicates his time to teaching bullerengue and keeping the tradition alive. As traditional Colombian rhythms pulse through DJ booths in NYC clubs these days, I find it refreshing to hear and learn from the masters and originators.

VIVIANA BENITEZ is the Associate Producer for the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. 

Lincoln Center Festival lead support is provided by American Express

Midsummer Night Swing 2017 is presented by NewYork-Presbyterian. Major support provided by Janice Savin Williams & Christopher J. Williams/The Williams Capital Group, LP

Major support for the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center is provided by Alice and David Rubenstein. Generous endowment support is provided by The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and Oak Foundation