Philharmonic Changes Summer Schedule to Relieve Park Grass

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The 13 acres of carefully-manicured Kentucky bluegrass that blanket Central Park’s Great Lawn may get a reprieve this summer when the New York Philharmonic returns for its two summer parks concerts in July.

The orchestra said on Friday that it is moving the dates of its two Central Park concerts closer together in an effort to reduce wear and tear on the Great Lawn. The concerts will take place July 13 and 16, instead of July 12 and 17.

The revised schedule means that the Philharmonic will be able to keep its stage up over the weekend, instead of disassembling it between concerts.

The New York Philharmonic will also play in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on July 11; Cunningham Park, Queens, on July 12; and Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx, on July 17. The Philharmonic brass will perform a free outdoor concert at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, on July 15.

Last summer, the Philharmonic decided to cancel its parks concerts in favor of other projects, including a free concert with the singer Andrea Bocelli and a 9/11 memorial concert. The Philharmonic pledged to restore the annual series for 2012.

The question of the the Great Lawn's durability has been hotly contested in recent years. In 2004, an anti-war coalition wanted to hold a rally on the lawn during the Republican National Convention. The city denied application for a permit, stating that such a mass gathering would be harmful to the grass and that such damage would make it harder to collect private donations to maintain the park. Courts upheld the refusal.

A 2009 independent study recommended a 55,000-person upper limit on crowds, although an estimated 60,000 fans turned out for a rain-soaked Black Eyed Peas concert on Sept. 30, 2011.

WQXR is a broadcast partner of the New York Philharmonic.