The series at Queensbridge Park, which began on Tuesday with a performance by Black Moon & Smif-N-Wessun, will continue with free music, dance and poetry. Erika Elliott, Executive Artistic Director of City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage, said the Queensbridge Park site is one of her favorite locations to present due to its feel and the backdrop of the Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge).
“In all of our programming across the city we are looking to bring a diverse lineup, and when possible, talent that is also from the neighborhood in which we are presenting,” Elliott said. “For this year’s lineup our overarching theme around jazz music inspired us to bring jazz diva Dianne Reeves to Queensbridge Park. In short, the aim is to bring compelling programming for the whole family into this Queens neighborhood.”
“Overall, the lineup aims to bring a good mix, from classic hip-hop to R&B to contemporary dance, and spoken word, in order to provide a range of offerings so there is something for everyone in such a diverse borough like Queens” Elliott added.
On Thursday, July 28, R&B artist and soul singer-songwriter Lyfe Jennings will entertain the crowd with a concert from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The musician turned his life around while being imprisoned for 10 years following arson-related charges in 1992. He started a music program at the Ohio prison and since being released in 2002, he has gone on to release albums such as “Lyfe 268-192,” “Lyfe Change,” “I Still Believe” and “Tree of Lyfe.” Jennings, who recently appeared on VH1’s show “Love & Hop Hop: Atlanta,” will sing both classic and newer songs such as “Stick Up Kid, “Never Never Land” and “Work.”
The following night, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, featuring poets Paolo Javier and Maria Lisella, will host a night of Queens poets from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Javier, the former Queens Poet Laureate between 2010 and 2014, and Lisella, the current Queens Poet Laureate, will include local poets who share universal stories and unique experiences. After becoming the sixth winner of the Poet Laureate competition last year, Lisella said that though people often forget the impact of a poem, the art form is instrumental in almost all the important aspects of one’s life, from birth to death.
A combination of dance and music will fill the air on Saturday night as choreographer Stefanie Batten Bland will collaborate with futuristic jazz ensemble Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber for the physical requiem “PATIENTE(CE).”
The work will feature a “formal emphasis on the eternal present” as well as a visual installation, according to organizers. It seeks to explore the grace one finds in life when harmony is found between people, space and time. Dancer Karisma Jay will also teach a master class to performance goers. Jay has been teaching skill since she was 11 years old. As well as becoming the 2016 winner of The Stars of New York Dance Award and Caribbean Life’s Impact Award, Jay joined the longest-running Off Broadway musical, STOMP, and is the artistic director and founder of AbunDance Academy of the Arts.
“At City Parks Foundation, we believe culture should be convenient and affordable for everyone. Our SummerStage festival removes the barriers to culture, bringing world-class artists, topical and popular, to neighborhood parks across all five boroughs, free of charge,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “SummerStage brings together New York’s diverse communities in authentic and meaningful ways, making high quality performing arts, from music to spoken word, circus and contemporary dance, truly accessible.”
Keeping up with this year’s celebration of jazz, a special jazz-themed family day will conclude the performances at Queensbridge Park. Post-bop jazz pianist Marc Cary and award-winning actor, dancer and poet Joseph Monroe Webb will each perform, following a show by the WBGO Kids Jazz featuring Brianna Thomas and The Jazz Travelers.
“This year’s theme of celebrating jazz has a direct tie to the long lineage of jazz greats who called Queens home,” Elliott said. “We have 3 performances around the jazz theme, including a family community day; this seemed like a good way to pay homage to that heritage.”
To learn more information regarding the performances and the schedules, visit www.cityparksfoundation.org.