Flushing Town Hall continues soft reopening in August with a lineup of performances

Gino Sitson
The Gino Sitson Trio will deliver “Beautiful Vibration” – Colors of African Music live from the stage at Flushing Town hall for a hybrid in-person and virtual audience on Friday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall)

In August, Flushing Town Hall will continue to welcome in-person audiences back for select events while continuing to livestream all programs. 

The venue’s next upcoming events will be The Gino Sitston Trio’s innovative and energetic performance of African music, an outdoor exhibition of work by Queens-based artists, Taiwanese piano talents Ching-Yun Hu, Natasha Wu and Yao-Wen Chang, and the final virtual Louis Armstrong Legacy Jazz Jam.

“As we are carefully reopening our facilities for select events, we are delighted to welcome familiar and new faces to Flushing Town Hall,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall. “Across the city, venues are reopening, and we are thrilled that we can bring local artists to our patrons while taking all necessary safety measures for our guests and performers to feel safe.”

Gino Sitson Trio: High energy, live performance with in-person audiences

The Gino Sitson Trio will deliver “Beautiful Vibration” – Colors of African Music live from the stage at Flushing Town hall for a hybrid in-person and virtual audience on Friday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. 

The Los Angeles Times calls Sitson “an extraordinarily pliable voice in settings rich with melody, emotion and rhythm. His gift for melody and his persuasive powers for interpretation establish an instant connection for listeners … always fascinating.” 

Originally from the Bamiléké region of Cameroon, central Africa, Sitson’s family comes from a long line of Cameroonian musicians known as Ntontas (players of horns). His daring musical project combines jazz, gospel, blues and traditional African polyphonies, polyrhythms and melodies in a most innovative way. Outside of the music world, Sitson is also a UNICEF Cameroon Goodwill Ambassador, who is engaged in reaching out to street children and advocating for their well-being.

During his performance on Aug. 20, Sitson (voice, body percussion and compositions) will be accompanied by Marvin Sewell (acoustic guitar and voice) and Lonnie Plaxico (double bass). 

For this concert, Flushing Town Hall is offering both virtual and in-person tickets. In order to ensure the safety of  audiences, performers and staff, only 42 in-person tickets will be available in honor of Flushing Town Hall’s 42nd anniversary. Details about social distancing requirements should be reviewed online before purchasing in-person tickets.

The performance will also be streamed live online, and virtual ticket holders will receive the live link and reminder before the show.

Virtual tickets are available for $7 for the general public or $5 for members, and in-person tickets must be purchased in advance for $12 for the general public or $10 for members at flushingtownhall.org.

Louis Armstrong Legacy Virtual Jazz Jams 

Flushing Town Hall will host the last virtual Louis Armstrong Legacy Jazz Jams on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. before returning to in-person jams in September. 

The widely popular virtual jams have attracted more than 200 musicians and 7,000 national and international viewers since Flushing Town Hall first closed its facility for COVID-19 precautions in March 2020. This will also be the last jazz jam with a dedicated theme, which will celebrate the birthday of its inspiration, the legendary Louis Armstrong — and other August birthdays. 

Starting Sept. 8,  the monthly Louis Armstrong Legacy Jazz Jam will return to its pre-pandemic, in-person format for participating musicians the second Wednesday of the month, but it will continue streaming to viewers’ homes for free.  

Led by Astoria resident Carol Sudhalter and the wonderful house band featuring Joe Vincent Tranchina, Scott Neumann and Eric Lemon, the jam invites musicians, including Flushing Town Hall jazz jammers from Queens and Long Island, as well as newcomers from around the world, to share their music, lift our spirits and honor those whose lives were lost.

“It seems so fitting to be celebrating the legacy of Louis Armstrong, and his and other August birthdays this month at our last jam in the virtual world. I am excited to discover what legendary artists, past or present, our performers will choose to pay tribute to in our final virtual jam,” said Suhalter, Flushing Town Hall’s jazz band leader. “We thank all who have stuck with us — audience and performers alike — who have dared to go with the change. We look forward to our in-person return in September!”

Musicians interested in participating in the virtual jams should email education@flushingtownhall.org with the suggested three- to four-minute tune they intend to play in line with this month’s theme. The performance can be live or a pre-recorded audio or video (but not a professional, edited recording such as a CD or YouTube video).

Musicians who performed in 2020 are now welcome to return. Each month, up to five returning musicians and up to 15 new musicians can participate. Selection is on a first-come, first-served basis.

An Evening With Taiwanese Piano Stars, featuring Ching-Yun Hu and new talents Natasha Wu and Yao-Wen Chang

Flushing Town Hall is partnering with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. to livestream “An Evening With Taiwanese Piano Stars, featuring Ching-Yun Hu and new talents Natasha Wu and Yao-Wen Chang on its YouTube channel. 

Hailed by The Philadelphia Inquirer as a “first class talent … superb pianist” and by International Piano (London), which said that “praises follow her around the world, Hu is a unique presence in the international concert scene. 

Hu is the winner of the Arthur Rubinstein and Concert Artists Guild Competitions, and since her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, she has continued to perform internationally at major concert venues across the world. 

Her albums with Naxos, ArchiMusic and BMop Sound have received critical acclaim and won the prestigious Golden Melody Award for “Best Classical Album of the Year.” Pianist Magazine has called her latest Rachmaninoff album as an “essential listening for Rachmaninoff admirers.” Renowned also as a presenter, curator, educator and a passionate classical music promoter, Hu is the founder and artistic director of the renowned Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy (PYPA) and serves on the piano faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia.

In this concert, Hu is joined by two rising Taiwanese piano stars, Natasha Wu and Yao-Wen Chang, in a program of piano classics by Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Taiwan’s own Tyzen Hsiao. This event is co-presented by The Taipei Cultural Center in New York (TCC), Yun International Music Foundation (YIMF) and Flushing Town Hall. The concert is part of TCC in New York’s 30th Anniversary program.

“OutFront 24/7” exhibition

Curated by the Southeast Queens Artists Alliance, “OutFront 24/7” is a public exhibition of original artworks printed on weatherproof banners for display on public-facing fences that will travel to select Queens cultural institutions and be on display at Flushing Town Hall’s fence on Northern Boulevard from Aug. 18 to Sept. 3. 

When the exhibition opens on Aug. 18, Flushing Town Hall will host an in-person walkthrough led by participating artists at the fence, on the sidewalk and in the garden at Flushing Town Hall from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. This event is free, but RSVP is required.

Following the exhibition at Flushing Town Hall, the works will then be installed at King Manor Museum from Sept. 7 to 18.

The exhibit will present works by 10 Queens artists selected for their works’ response to the theme: reflections on life during this pandemic. It engages people on the street with visual messages about people’s experiences of the COVID -19 pandemic. Beautiful and contemplative, the banners will capture the public’s attention and slow the pace by provoking thought, inspiring discussion, and inviting responses to the works on display — a viable way to rebuild community after months in quarantine.

“OutFront 24/7” provides an in-person opportunity for safe art viewing that has been missing for many in Queens.