New York State has played a key role in many of music’s most groundbreaking moments. Imagine walking in the footsteps of Janis Joplin or Nat King Cole, or listening to the opening aria in an open-air amphitheater where the acoustics make you feel like you’re part of the performance. This is New York State’s musical legacy. It is the home of the revolutionary spirit of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and the small stage where legends honed their crafts. Discover new moments for yourself at inspiring venues offering a variety of performances and experiences, from an “anti festival” in a reclaimed factory to a concert hall floating on the East River.
Site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel Woods (Catskills)
Located down an unassuming road in Sullivan County is the site of one of the most transformative events in American history—the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The events leading to the three-day music and art fair, as well as the legacy of the historic event, are memorialized in the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY. The site continues to host chart-topping and genre-defining artists from yesterday and today at its outdoor amphitheater with its annual summer concert series.
Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at Chautauqua Institution (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
Each summer, Chautauqua Institution’s sprawling, 750-acre campus of arts venues and stages, including an open-air, 4,000-seat amphitheater, welcomes a stunning array of performers from every discipline. Experience a summer line-up more than 90 years in the making when the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the musical heart of the Institution, celebrates the 2023 season with 22 concerts and performances. From collaborative works the Washington Ballet, Chautauqua Opera and Natalie Merchant, to Star Wars in concert, discover the unique offerings of this renowned arts venue.
Seagle Music Colony (Adirondacks)
The oldest summer vocal training program in the US, and the premier opera and music theatre producing organization isn’t located in New York City—it’s tucked away on the shores of Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. Summer of 2023 marks the Seagle Music Colony’s 108th anniversary season. See incredible performers transform before your eyes in a theater that dates back to the early 1900s. Enjoy the wonder of acoustics that are at once soaring and resounding, even while seated in the cozy, intimate theater. This summer’s lineup of performances from artists honing their craft includes Roméo Et Juliette, Fiddler on the Roof, A Little Night Music, and more.
Glimmerglass Festival (Central New York)
The Glimmerglass Festival is an internationally acclaimed opera festival that offers select performances throughout the summer season in a magnificent setting overlooking Otsego Lake. This year’s run of show includes Puccini’s La bohème, Bernstein’s Candide, Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Handel’s Rinaldo and a world premiere youth opera, The Rip Van Winkles by Ben Morris and Laura Fuentes. and more. Previews, meet-the-performers, tours and picnic meals on spacious lawns add to a "Night at the Opera."
The Great New York State Fair (Finger Lakes)
It wouldn’t be summer in New York State without a trip to the Great New York State Fair. For 13 days, August 23 - September 4, 2023 , enjoy an incredible variety of musical entertainment. Highlights include the Pan-African Village, where African-inspired music, African and Caribbean food, and vendors create an experience that awakens the senses. After sampling some jerk chicken, head to the Chevy Court Concerts venue for two shows daily featuring top performers like Chubby Checker and Brett Michaels. The Experience Stage at Chevy Park will host at least one major concert every day like REO Speedwagon and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line. , Don’t miss a moment of the music at this year’s Great New York State Fair!
Colored Musicians Club (Greater Niagara)
As the only remaining African American club of its kind in the US, this historic preservation site is a must-visit in Buffalo. All the greats once performed here, from Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis, and the club continues to showcase incredible performances at its Sunday Night Jazz Series in venues across Buffalo. See how the club, which is undergoing renovations, keeps the genre’s history and music alive at the Colored Musicians Club Museum. Open for tours Thursday through Saturday, the museum features historic artifacts like a drum played by the late, great Frankie Dunlop, as well as exhibits that explore the history of jazz.
Bargemusic (New York City)
Credit: Anne Garland
If you think listening to Mozart’s "Sonata in G Major" in a concert hall that gently rocks back and forth sounds like a sublime way to spend an evening, then Brooklyn’s Bargemusic is for you. Moored just under the Brooklyn Bridge, this unique musical experience is open year-round, offering classical music aficionados the chance to enjoy their favorite compositions on a vessel that offers stunning views of Manhattan across the East River. Free concerts are offered during the Music in Motion Series, offered at 4 pm on Saturdays from June through August, and include a Q & A with the musicians. The program is announced at the beginning of each performance, adding a bit of mystery to the experience!
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (Capital-Saratoga)
With incredible music performances and a nod to the city’s deep history, the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is the go-to place for a cultural experience. Opened in 1875, the Music Hall has hosted a wide variety of international performers and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Every Thursday at 11 am until August 29, 2019, the Music Hall Corporation hosts free summer concerts and activities for kids at Barker Park in Troy.
Jones Beach Concerts (Long Island)
Where can you see world-class performers in an open-air setting just steps from the beach every summer? Jones Beach State Park, of course! The amphitheater is one of the most unique concert venues around, with seats oriented toward the stage overlooking Zachs Bay and the ocean beyond. Built in 1952 as the Jones Beach Marine Theater to host musicals and operettas (one famous performer arrived via speedboat for his shows), this popular waterfront venue is a favorite performance space of Jimmy Buffett and Aerosmith. Head to this Long Island hotspot to watch some of the biggest names in music perform all summer long.
Basilica Hudson (Hudson Valley)
Credit: Samantha Marble for The Creative Independent
Basilica Hudson, a reclaimed industrial factory from the 1880s that is completely solar-powered, showcases performances by some of the most genre-pushing musicians and artists of our time through its immersive programming. You’re bound to have an experience like no other from its experimental and experiential 24-Hour Drone event that features 24 hours of uninterrupted sound to Basilica SoundScape, a weekend of art, music and culture that blends concerts, conceptual sound performances, author readings, art installations, local vendors and artisans, and more.
Clayton Opera House (Thousand-Islands Seaway)
The charming waterfront community of Clayton boasts its own opera house within a stately four-story brick structure overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The Opera House has served as an important hub for cultural and community events for over a century and is a fine example of the vaudeville theaters that sprung up throughout the United States in the early 1900s. Now it hosts theatrical performances along with concerts spanning all genres from bluegrass to Celtic music.
Anywhere you go in NYS you’re bound to be near some awesome music. Share New York State pictures on Instagram and Twitter with #iSpyNY and tag us on Facebook!