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MTA Arts & Design

Facts About the Program

At present, more than 350 individuals and ensembles participate in the Music Under New York (MTA MUSIC) program, providing over 7,500 annual performances at approximately 30 locations throughout the transit system. A variety of performances are presented in New York’s underground such as classical strings, jazz ensembles, blues bands, doo wop and steppers. Musicians often play interesting instruments including the Sengalese kora, Andean pipes, Korean drums, Aboriginal didjeridoo, steel drums, Cajun cello, Flamenco guitar, Gypsy violin, and Chinese dulcimer and pipa while divas sing songs of rhythm and blues, opera, pop, American and Haitian folk and other types, among the many, diverse acts performed 365 days a year.

MTA MUSIC, is one of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts & Design’s visual and performing arts programs, whose purpose is to enhance the transit experience for customers. Initiated as a pilot program in 1985, MUSIC became official in January 1987 garnering great enthusiasm from the commuting public.

How the Program Works

Every year, the annual Auditions are held in Grand Central Terminal to review and add new performers to the MUSIC roster. In an effort to appeal to all, MTA MUSIC seeks musicians who reflect the culture and diversity of the people of New York City. All performers are welcome to apply for the Auditions. The MTA MUSIC on-line Auditions application is available at the beginning of the year. Eligible performers are contacted and invited to perform at the Auditions, which are held live, one-day only, and open to public. A panel of professionals, consisting of representatives from the music industry, cultural institutions, MTA station operations, fellow musicians and others, judge each of the five minute performances based on the criteria of quality, variety, and appropriateness for the mass transit environment.

After the Auditions, the selected performers attend an orientation meeting to receive information explaining the procedures of the program and the regulations of the transit system, especially relating to passenger safety and comfort. As a member of MTA MUSIC, performers receive personalized MUSIC banners to display during scheduled MTA MUSIC performance at the 30 designated MTA MUSIC sites. MTA MUSIC sites are busy, highly visible locations in the subway and commuter rail stations including Long Island Rail Road Penn Station and Metro-North Grand Central Terminal.

Throughout the year for the public, MTA MUSIC presents special events in the transit system with such themes as Blues Festival, Divas Underground, Summer Solstice, Jazz Festival, etc.

For Additional Information

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