The program currently features around musicians or bands. The MTA whittled down a pool of applicants this year to 70 finalists for its 31st annual audition. Those finalists — competing for 25 openings — had five minutes to perform publicly in the hall, in front of 30 judges and many more commuters. Performances were as diverse as the city itself, featuring Kurdish one-man-bands, Latin fusion and traditional Brazilian music. Many of those trying out were classically trained. Several have performed in the subways before, but felt it had become difficult to find a prime playing location on their own.
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Subway performers can make good money and can become famous so it is expected that the Subway performers auditions are very popular. Auditions applications are now available for the MTA Music Program and performers will need to audition in front of members of the public. Musicians are encouraged to apply for the Auditions. Packages will be reviewed and approximately 65 eligible performers will be contacted and invited to perform at the Auditions. All performances must be pre-scheduled. The Auditions are held live, one-day only and are open to public. A panel of professionals, consisting of representatives from the music industry, cultural institutions, MTA station operations, fellow musicians and others will judge each of the five minute performances during the Auditions based on the criteria of quality, variety, and appropriateness for the mass transit environment. Presently, more than individuals and ensembles who are Subway performers participate in the Music Under New York MTA MUSIC program, providing over 7, annual performances at approximately 30 locations throughout the transit system. 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 days a year. Initiated as a pilot program in , MUSIC became official in January garnering great enthusiasm from the commuting public.
Subway Performers in the NYC Subway
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For its 31st annual auditions, Music Under New York has invited 82 finalists to audition for a coveted spot on its roster of performers, an impressive list of musicians and groups who over the decades have been entertaining subway and commuter rail customers throughout the Metropolitan Transportation Authority service region with a soulful tune or a jazzy song at subway stations or rail terminals. Each finalist, whether a group or a soloist, has five minutes to impress a panel of dozens of judges that include music industry professionals, members of city cultural institutions, current MTA MUSIC members, and MTA staff. They judge the finalists on criteria such as quality, appropriateness for the transit environment, musical variety and cultural diversity, with the goal of increasing the number of genres represented in the program. The public are welcome to stay and watch and cheer for their favorites or just enjoy some free music as they walk through Grand Central Terminal or enjoy a shopping or meal break there.