Some beauty from Bach
For cellist Steven Isserlis, Bach’s solo suites are "total perfection.” His April 2018 performance on our stage of the fifth suite was transformative. Isserlis writes, “The suite reaches its emotional peak in the desolate loneliness of the famous Sarabande. What an extraordinary movement this is: no discernible melody as such, no particular rhythmic interest, no obvious dynamic changes, no chords—and yet, one of the most powerful pieces of music ever composed.” Listen and watch this amazing performance.
Watch John Mulaney and Bill Hader laugh till it hurts
The SNL alums were here on May 12 last year to talk about Season 2 of Barry. It turned out to be one of our funniest talks ever. And those nice people at HBO are streaming Barry and a whole lot of other shows for free right now, so you can head over there when you’ve finished watching.
Remembering Bucky Pizzarelli
The sheer joy of making music was personified in jazz guitar master Bucky Pizzarelli, who passed away on Thursday of coronavirus at the age of 94. Bucky held only one thing closer than music—family. And we considered him part of our 92Y family—he performed on our stage more than a dozen times. Today, we remember Bucky with his tender version of “Sweet Sue,” as our hearts go out to those closest to him.
What’s in a tune?
As we collectively relish in more livestream concerts than ever before, we’ve been thinking about the music that sticks with us. What keeps us so powerfully connected to certain pieces across the centuries?
Louis Rosen has taught some of our most popular music appreciation classes for more than 30 years. He breaks it down for us in this short, brilliant video that demonstrates how a tune works — uncovering the surprising connection between two melodies by Mozart and Gershwin separated by 150 years, the Atlantic Ocean, and major cultural differences.
Reel Pieces: Francis Ford Coppola on Cinema’s Past and Future, Casting Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and more
“It’s almost as if humanity was waiting for the cinema to come, because when it did come, when the technology came, there was a rush of masterpieces… It burst out.”
When legendary director Francis Ford Coppola visited 92Y to talk to Annette Insdorf about his life and career in 2015, he was bursting with contagious energy and fresh ideas about the movies—along with hilarious, jaw-dropping stories about casting a very eccentric Marlon Brando in his early films and feeling rejected after reading early bad reviews for Apocalypse Now.
Watch this classic Reel Pieces talk from June 9, 2015.
Backstage Stories: A Home Base for the Cast of Schitt’s Creek
Schitt’s Creek, the hysterical saga of a cosmopolitan family forced to live in the sticks, has been one of our favorite shows on TV for the last few years. The stars of the series—Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy—visited 92Y several times at the beginning of a new season to screen an episode and chat. We’ve come to think of them as a part of the 92Y family.
“They were some of the nicest people I’ve ever interacted with on a professional level,” says 92Y Senior Publicist Andrew Sherman. “They were always excited to be there. Chit-chatting with Eugene on the side, trading stories about our mutual interest in Leonard Cohen, talking about his earlier appearances at the Y—he was just incredibly down-to-earth. In 2016, the first time they appeared, Eugene was genuinely surprised and touched by the audience’s thunderous reaction when the curtain went up—you can see it in the video.”
Watch the full talk from that night on March 14, 2016.
A dream of dance for every child
Virtually everything that is happening today in dance in New York City’s public schools is connected, in some way, to DEL (Dance Education Laboratory) and the work it does to equip teachers with the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.
On Saturday, February 8, 2020, as part of DEL’s 25th anniversary celebrations, founder Jody Gottfried Arnhold, founding faculty Ann Biddle, and dancers from The D.R.E.A.M. Ring (Dance Rules Everything Around Me), came together with inter-generational dancers and dance educators to create a Movement Sentence Choir.
Watch this incredible video to see what happened. The dance they created shows us how anybody can dance; how we can make a dance about anything; how process is just as important as product; and how, above all, we are meant to be together.
A musical treasure to revel in
On an April evening in 2010, pianist Peter Serkin and the Orion String Quartet delivered a stunning performance of what many consider the greatest work ever written for piano quintet, Brahms' Quintet in F Minor. Lyrical and fierce, the performance from April 18, 2010, is one of the treasures of our concerts archive.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by
And that had made all the difference
These iconic lines of poetry were written by Robert Frost, of course, in his famous poem, “The Road Not Taken.” Frost read the poem here at 92Y in 1952, and luckily, we recorded it. Before he reads the poem, Frost wonders, “How should ‘The Road Not Taken’ be taken?” Listen and decide for yourself.
A home for voices at the vanguard
Pioneer of modern dance Martha Graham first appeared at 92Y in a now legendary “Symposium on Modern Dance” in spring 1935. 92Y was the first presenter of modern dance and the artists who created the form, and Graham went on to choreograph and perform several of her trailblazing early works here in the 1930s and ’40s.
Harkness Dance Center Director Taryn Kaschock Russell builds upon Graham’s legacy in her work at 92Y, and her connection is personal. “I danced The Bride in Appalachian Spring—Martha’s role—while a member of the Joffrey Ballet. It was a moment that profoundly impacted my life—both as a dancer and, later, as an educator. I felt the responsibility of history.”
Martha Graham spoke with dance critic Walter Terry about her work and life on our stage on March 31, 1963.
Malcolm Gladwell and Jelani Cobb on truth, deception, and Talking to Strangers
As we settle into the “new normal” of social distrancing, many of us are asking ourselves: Who can we trust to be frank with us about the facts and tell us the truth?
Last fall, Malcolm Gladwell and Jelani Cobb sat down at 92Y to discuss this very question. In a conversation about Gladwell’s latest book, Talking to Strangers, the fellow New Yorker writers offered a brilliant, witty, and refreshingly straightforward perspective on how we determine who we can trust.
Watch this fascinating discussion from September 27, 2019.
A musical gem
Here’s a throwback to one thrilling night in November, 2018, when the charismatic Danish String Quartet performed Haydn’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2 on our stage. Listen and watch here.
Oh Hello, on Broadway
And just because it’s too good not to share: The time when notorious tuna-lovers George and Gil (John Mulaney and Nick Kroll) returned to the stage where it all began for a conversation with John Oliver.
Behind the scenes with the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Feel like you’re cooking all the time these days? Here’s a little inspiration from the rock stars of the BA test kitchen, who joined us last month.
Backstage stories: Waiting for Stritch
Michael Musto: Elaine, you’ve worked with Noël Coward, Edward Albee, Stephen Sondheim. They chose you —
Elaine Stritch: No place to go but up, right?
The last time the legendary actress and performer Elaine Stritch visited 92Y to talk about her life and career, she was still the undisputed queen of comic timing at 89 years old. But up until she came onstage, it wasn’t clear that the show would go on …
“Elaine Stritch was a multi-talented, larger-than-life character. She was supposed to arrive at 6:45 pm for the event with Michael Musto,” recalls 92Y”s Sue Solomon. “We had a full house of 900 people. Seven o'clock rolled around. 7:20 … 7:30. No Elaine. I finally get word from her driver, who admitted that she had stepped off on East 57th Street to get her hair done.
“Backstage there’s an elevator that leads directly up from street level. This elevator is … indescribable. Eventually, almost 40 minutes after the hour, through the elevator shaft I hear someone yelling, ‘Hey! Be careful, boys!’ It was Elaine, in her wheelchair, with the crew who were trying to help her in. Everyone in the audience could hear it. I shouted down the elevator shaft, “Elaine! Everyone can hear you!’ She yells back, “I don’t give a s--t!’ The elevator ascends, the door opens, and there she is, in her sable coat, looking so glamorous. ‘Sue!’ she said, ‘Just wheel me out there.’ And she was as sweet as can be. It was a fabulous event. She was terrific onstage. The audience went crazy.”
Sadly, Stritch passed away a few months later. We’re honored to share these seven pitch-perfect one-liners from that magical night.
When food talks, we’ve always listened—to Ina Garten and Yotam Ottolenghi and Ruth Reichl and Danny Meyer and so many more. Today we begin bringing you Sunday Suppers—a weekly helping of some of our most delicious talks with the chefs at the top of the food chain. To start, this wonderful October 2015 conversation between Jacques P&eqcute;pin and Anthony Bourdain.
Listen to two new songs released from the powerful Gershwin performance by Paul Masse: “The Man I Love” and “Love is Here to Stay”
Watch Lizzo bring the noise
When we got word that pop megastar Lizzo was coming to 92Y last year to talk about her game-changing debut album Cuz I Love You with Phoebe Robinson, we knew that the 92Y community would love it. How much? When Lizzo came onstage on September 20, the cheering from the sold-out crowd was so loud that we could hear it through the ventilation system in the May Fitness Center men’s locker room three floors up.
The joy of the talk itself lived up to the noise. Hear Lizzo and Robinson talk about fame, body positivity, the genius of Missy Elliott, and much more in this instant classic from our archives.
Reel Pieces with Annette Insdorf: Navigating cramped interiors with the stars of Birdman
Feel like you’re beginning to know the inside of your house like the back of your hand? The stars of Birdman can relate. Watch Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis talk to Reel Pieces moderator Annette Insdorf about the complicated filming process and long, uninterrupted takes that brought the winding backstage passageways of New York’s St. James Theater to life—not to mention the heartbreaking, hilarious, and groundbreaking movie that came out of it.
New installments of Annette Insdorf’s Reel Pieces Film Club begin streaming Sunday, March 29. The classic films in this series will be accompanied by a live online discussion with Insdorf on Sundays at 8 pm.
An evening for Terrence McNally
“During the run of Mothers and Sons … I was going up 8th Avenue and I saw the marquee and I felt, that’s me, I did what I wanted to do.”
Some of his closest friends and collaborators—Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski and Lynn Ahrens among them—joined Terrence McNally onstage for a conversation about his rich and resonant career, along with reenacted scenes from two of his groundbreaking plays. McNally spoke of the abundance in his life in an evening full of shared memories and joy.
Reel Pieces with Annette Insdorf: Channeling Truman Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman
“I had a gut instinct of why I wanted to do this. At the beginning of the story, Truman didn’t know what to do. He was at a loss. And I was feeling like that.”
—The great Philip Seymore Hoffman talks with Annette Insdorf on our stage, January 11, 2006
Since 1987, Columbia film professor Annette Insdorf has interviewed some of the world’s most renowned actors and filmmakers on 92Y’s stage for her Reel Pieces series. Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and many more have joined us over the years to delve into their work.
See the great Philip Seymour Hoffman talk about his Oscar-winning role as the title character in Capote. In this remarkable interview, as Hoffman explains how he prepared for the role, he reveals as much of himself as an actor as he does of his subject, Truman Capote. Capote himself frequented 92Y, debuting In Cold Blood on our stage in 1964. That recording does not exist, but you can hear his voice here, in a recording made in 1963, reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s at 92Y.
We are very pleased to let you know that Annette’s series continues online. New installments of Annette Insdorf’s Reel Pieces Film Club begin streaming Sunday, March 29. The classic films in this series will be accompanied by a live online discussion with Insdorf on Sundays at 8 pm.
An inspiring speech
Susan Engel, director of 92Y Talks, has produced our conversations series for 37 years. She’s the person who brought the first big Hollywood stars to our stage for intimate conversations, and has curated some truly remarkable events with thought leaders from the worlds of politics, news, fashion, art, business, science, entertainment and much more.
Susan recalls 92Y’s long relationship with Mario Cuomo. “He came and spoke at 92Y many times over the years, and he was always incredibly thoughtful and warm,” she says. “He would call me on the phone before his visits to read the remarks that he had planned for a given event, sometimes for an hour, and asked me if I thought they were any good. Of course they always were. His speech ‘Who is God?’—delivered during his third term as the governor of New York—was particularly inspiring. He loved this speech so much that it became the basis of his book, Reason to Believe.”
Happy birthday, Stephen Sondheim
Photo credit: Jerry Jackson
March 22, 2020 marked the 90th birthday of musical theater’s greatest composer-lyricist.
Stephen Sondheim actually made his very first public speaking appearance on our stage, on May 2, 1971, as part of 92Y’s inaugural Lyrics & Lyricists season.
His intimate talk that evening captures his reflections on what he calls “the craft, not the art,” of lyric writing, on why it’s the simplicity of the line “I just kissed a girl named Maria”—not the grand part—that makes that song soar, and so much more, amounting to a riveting and witty master class for anyone who writes anything.
Listen to this nearly 50-year-old treasure from our archive.
Backstage stories: Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, and a bunch of show-stealing kids
Taj Greenlee, assistant director of 92Y Talks, A.K.A. the mastermind behind some of our most popular conversations onstage, recalls one of his sweetest moments in our hall.
Earlier this year, SNL alums Seth Meyers and John Mulaney were about to go onstage to talk about Mulaney’s new Netflix special, John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch.
“We were playing the soundtrack from the show when the audience was coming into the building,” Greenlee says. “The main theme song came on, and suddenly all of the kids who sang it in the special stood up in their seats and started performing it live for everyone who was filing in. We had arranged with John Mulaney to get all these young actors free tickets, so they were there, all wearing their Sack Lunch Bunch jackets—it was easy to identify them. They hadn’t all been in the same room together since the show had taped, and they were extremely excited to see one another—and given that they were theater kids, they were not shy to perform and talk to the audience. It was incredibly sweet. It made for a warm mood in the room, which carried over into the conversation onstage.”
A hunt for hope through dance
On a drizzly Friday evening earlier this month, spectators huddled on the steps of 92Y. A shabby-looking car pulled up, out spilled Northern Ireland choreographer Oona Doherty, and so began one of the most powerful dance performances of our season.
Transforming herself into a stereotypical young man from the rough neighborhoods of Belfast, she led the audience up the stairs into Buttenwieser Hall to give a performance the New York Times called “astonishing.”
“She’s one of the most striking performers, without question, that I’ve ever witnessed,” said Taryn Kaschock Russell, the director of 92Y’s Harkness Dance Center. “It comes from the level of commitment and raw vulnerability that she allowed us witness. She took us to places that were really hard to be part of, but then she took you right out of them, and into the next thing. There was such clear vulnerability—I ended up crying both times I saw it. It elicited such powerful emotions.”
Oona Doherty and Joss Carter performed Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus on March 6, 2020.
Tony Soprano in the Night Kitchen
A gem from our archives. Watch the great James Gandolfini in this special Poetry Center tribute to Maurice Sendak from September 15, 2008. We hope you love it as much as we do.
A concert to transport you
Messiaen’s modernist masterpiece, Quartet for the End of Time, is a reminder of art’s capacity to simultaneously strike us with awe, and bring us hope. Here’s a throwback to one unforgettable night in Kaufmann Concert Hall, from April 20, 2013, when Christian Tetzlaff, his sister Tanja Tetzlaff and his friends Jorg Widmann and Alexander Lonquich took our breath away with their astonishing playing. Hold on for the end of the last movement, and marvel.
A reading to soothe the soul
On March 19, the New York Times featured a piece on what books authors read to calm their anxieties in a time of crisis. Joshua Ferris’s choice was Gilead, Marilynne Robinson’s novel of faith, family history, and intergenerational connection. Her voice “soothe[s] me like a milk-fed baby, as [she] shores up against pessimism without ever being timid or false,” he wrote. Watch her read from that beautiful book on our stage on March 14, 2005.
John Cheever, “The Swimmer,” and working from home
Legend has it that John Cheever put on a suit before he rode the elevator down to his basement office every morning to write, only to strip down to his boxers once he got there. As we try to adapt to our new work-from-home routines, listen to Cheever’s reading of his classic story “The Swimmer” from 1977.
Behind the scenes of our favorite streaming shows
From Outlander to The Crown, some of the most binge-worthy shows on TV have brought their casts and creatives to our stage to share behind-the-scenes insights and stories. Here is one of our favorites—and we’ll be sharing lots more in the coming days. So pop the popcorn, throw on your sweats, and let’s get comfy.
On February 20, the stars of Outlander joined author Diana Gabaldon for a sold-out, in-depth chat about the the series trajectory.
Sparks of positivity from Marie Kondo
Sometimes getting on with practical tasks like sorting out our stuff can provide a therapeutic distraction. Watch Marie Kondo’s surprising and uplifting talk on how getting organized can transform your life, spark joy, and help you stay positive—even in difficult times.
Behind the scenes: how 92Y’s most electric talks come together
Sue Solomon is a familiar face to patrons who frequent our marquee events series, 92Y Talks. She’s the Senior Associate Director of the team who curates these one-of-a-kind evenings. Part of the magic, she says, is getting the chemistry between a guest speaker and a moderator right. And that means jumping on every opportunity.
“I was sitting in my office on a Friday afternoon, we had just got Jimmy Page, and we want someone good to moderate,” she recalls. “My phone rings, and it’s Jeff Koons asking for tickets. I say of course, and I hang up the phone, and I’m thinking … ‘Boy, that would be an interesting pairing.’ I shared the idea with Jimmy’s people and they loved it, so I went back to Jeff and said, ‘I have an idea—how would you feel about moderating? We’d love for you to do it, and so would Jimmy!’ Well, after thinking it over for a moment or two, he said yes, and so they had an absolutely marvelous talk about creativity, and that’s how it all came about.”
Listen to Isabel Allende’s long-distance love story
Watch legendary writer Isabel Allende tell the story of meeting her husband after he heard her on NPR—the long-distance relationship that blossomed over the phone, the dinners they cooked over video chat, and more. From her conversation on our stage on January 23 this year.
If these walls could talk …
As part of 92Y’s backstage team for 25 years, Walt Taylor worked thousands of shows in our Kaufmann Concert Hall—and he has quite the stories to tell. His “pinch-me” moment with Paul McCartney; getting pranked by Jerry Lewis; the time Joy Behar saved the day … We’re sharing some of his favorite memories, along with links to the some of the videos (where available) of the events.
Today I work from home
What do Aimee Mann, Gary Shteyngart, Lee Child and Jonathan Coulton have in common? They all contributed to a book we published with Xerox, Speaking of Work: A Story of Love, Suspense, and Paperclips (which you can download for free). We wanted to explore what would happen if writers and artists who have little in common collaborated remotely. Here’s Aimee Mann and Jonathan Coulton writing a song together.
For some comic relief
Throwback to the time when humorous kibitzers Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland—actually the aged alter egos of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney—came to 92Y in character to talk with Willie Geist, and we found out why Gil and George have a Murphy bed.
The Plot Against America
David Simon’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s masterpiece of alternative history aired last night on HBO. For background on the series, see what happened when Simon and cast members came to talk about the adaptation with Peter Sagal.
Philip Roth graced our stage many times over the years. He gave his last public reading on May 8, 2014.
Gene Wilder on Willy Wonka Remake, Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks, And More
One of our all-time favorite talks in Kaufmann Concert Hall was when Gene Wilder stopped by on June 13, 2013 for a rare conversation with Robert Osborne. To us, he’ll always be the real Willy Wonka.