A concert series that promotes a sense of community, diversity and collaboration: founders cellist Laura Metcalf and guitarist Rupert Boyd outline why GatherNYC is a unique Sunday morning concert experience


Guitarist Rupert Boyd and cellist Laura Metcalf

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Cellist Laura Metcalf and classical guitarist Rupert Boyd are a New York-based married couple, who concertise all over the world and have released two highly acclaimed studio albums as the duo Boyd Meets Girl. Together, they also founded the concert series GatherNYC. Here, Metcalf and Boyd explore the mission behind the series and what audiences can expect if they attend. 

GatherNYC is a unique Sunday morning concert experience designed to build a welcoming, diverse community around the celebration of music. We present concerts every other Sunday from October through May, in the intimate theatre at the Museum of Arts and Design in midtown Manhattan. Each concert consists mostly of music, but we also feature a brief spoken word performance, as well as a collective, two-minute celebration of silence. Doors open half an hour before each concert, at which time we serve complimentary coffee and pastries, which offers our guests a chance to mingle and catch up. 

The format of GatherNYC was inspired by a similar series, Chatter, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we have played many times over the years and at which we gave our first concert as a duo. What struck us most about that series was the nourishing sense of community – this beautiful group of people that gather on a regular basis to experience music. We felt that, especially in a city like New York where people lead intense and very busy lives, this type of communal experience is one that is much needed. Yes, you can go to Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center or the 92nd Street Y and hear great music any night of the week, but GatherNYC offers an intimate quality and personal connection that is harder to experience in those larger halls. Furthermore, placing it on Sunday mornings and scheduling it every other week rather than just a handful of times throughout the season gives it the consistency and reliability of a religious organisation, but at GatherNYC the only religion is music. 

When making curatorial decisions and choosing which artists to invite, we focus on eclecticism, diversity and excellence. We want the experience of attending GatherNYC multiple times throughout the season to be a journey of discovery and nourishment for our audience. We look for creative, thoughtful artists at the top of their craft, and give them this intimate platform to share their own musical experience.

One of our artists, the celebrated Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh, commented from the stage that ’we began this hour as strangers and leave as friends.’ While we always present classical and ’classical adjacent’ artists, we shy away from presenting concerts that consist solely of ’standard’ repertoire. Beyond that, we are not heavy handed about what the artists and ensembles choose to play. For example, we have engaged some of the most accomplished and creative string quartets working today, including the Juilliard, Brentano, Dover, Attacca, Aizuri, PUBLIQ, Calidore and Borromeo Quartets, and we have been endlessly impressed with the thoughtfulness and diversity in their programming. In fact, the composer whose music has been heard the most at GatherNYC is not Beethoven or Brahms, but Caroline Shaw (who also gave her own concert at GatherNYC along with cellist Andrew Yee). What was beautiful about that concert is that many people attended because they were already fans of Caroline and her music, while others discovered it for the first time and left as newfound fans. 

’We began this hour as strangers and leave as friends’

We also love collaborations and projects that cross genres and disciplines. At our core, we are a classical chamber series, but we strive to show our audience how diverse an art form that can be, and to bring in new listeners to this music by allowing for exciting and engaging collaborations, which in recent seasons has included legendary jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano performing with The Overlook string quartet, New York City Ballet Orchestra members with Pigeonwing Dance, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with our own duo Boyd Meets Girl, and many more. We also love to provide a platform for composer-performers to showcase their own work, either solo or with collaborators, and those have included Grammy-winning singer-songwriter/cellist Laufey, Curtis Stewart, Jessica Meyer, Mike Block, Eliza Bagg, Marika Hughes, Christina Courtin, Jeremy Kittel and more. 

On the eve of our 100th GatherNYC concert, we’d like to thank all the musicians and concertgoers who have joined us for all these Sunday mornings to experience and celebrate live music. It has been heartwarming to see a core audience form around our offerings, and to personally welcome them to concert after concert. We’ve observed that for many of our “regulars,” GatherNYC fulfills a need for regular community connection, discovery and nourishment. It is our goal to continue to nurture and expand this cohort. 

GatherNYC is held on Sunday mornings at the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle. The one-hour concert runs from 11am-12pm, and doors open with complimentary coffee and pastries at 10:30am. The next concerts will be held on 17 and 31 March, featuring the Borromeo and Juilliard Quartets respectively. Tickets and further details: www.gathernyc.org

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