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NYC Musicians Perform Concerts from Cars

Producer/activist Olga Morkova and drummer Dan Kurfirst bring live music to Brooklyn neighborhoods while following social distancing guidelines

Dan Kurfirst
Dan Kurfirst, musical director of Concerts from Cars

New York City’s shelter-in-place rule has meant that even the city’s street musicians have suddenly found themselves without venues. However, a new Brooklyn-based initiative called Centerpoint Arts (CPA), led by producer and activist Olga Morkova, has found a workaround. It’s called Concerts from Cars. Inaugurated on the afternoon of Saturday, April 4, the program will perform for a second time on April 11.

Concerts from Cars is exactly what its name promises. Six musicians park their cars on a residential street (both near each other and observing social distancing guidelines) and, from in or near their respective cars, play music together. Residents can enjoy the music from their windows, stoops, fire escapes, or from a safe distance on the sidewalk.

Performances will take place at short notice and for short spans, in order to keep a large crowd from forming and potentially spreading coronavirus.

The core band for Concerts from Cars features drummer and musical director Dan Kurfirst; saxophonists Ben Cohen and Nick Lyons; trumpeter Ryan Messina; tubist Channel Crichlow; and drummer/percussionist Andrew Drury.

For their April 4 performances, they were joined by bass clarinetist Daro Behroozi in afternoon concerts on Lincoln Place in Park Slope, as well as stops in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Kensington and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. They were also joined by musicians who lived in each neighborhood and who became impromptu (but still socially distanced) collaborators. A video from the April 4 performance in Park Slope can be viewed on YouTube.

The April 11 performance will travel to locations in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant between 3 and 5 p.m. Guitarist Jason Nunes and violinists Trina Basu and Arun Ramamurthy will join the core Concerts from Cars sextet at the pop-up street concerts.