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The Village Trip festival to energize Greenwich Village with music, meaning and more

The Village Trip returns for its fifth annual festival celebrating arts and activism across Greenwich Village and the East Village. From Sept. 8 through Sept. 24, some 65 events will energize Downtown Manhattan with a diverse family-friendly program that reflects and honors the free-spirited creativity that for more than a century has made the neighborhood a truly global village and the birthplace of so many shape-shifting movements in both the arts and civil society.

This year’s festival will build on the neighborhood’s legacy of social and cultural activism —honoring a landmark moment in the Civil Rights movement and celebrating the impact of Ukrainian immigrants in New York City.

To recognize the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, The Village Trip will present “Let Freedom Ring! Music and Voices of the March for Civil Rights, Then and Now,” an evening of song, dance and oratory at The Great Hall of the Cooper Union. In the venue where Abraham Lincoln spoke and the NAACP was born, this event will address the way our society confronts discrimination, inequality and oppression. Written by award-winning poet, playwright and storyteller Daniel Carlton (“March On”) and directed by David Deblinger of HB Studio, “Let Freedom Ring” will feature jazz great Fred Johnson as melodic host, a video appearance by Judy Collins and creative contributions from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Profits from the evening will go to Jazz Museum, an institution whose raison d’être is part of the Black experience and which is collaborating on the production.

The renowned Ukrainian chorus Dumka will perform at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery on Sept. 10 on The Village Trip’s Ukraine Day.

On Sun., Sept 10, The Village Trip will celebrate Ukraine Day with a series of musical fundraisers benefiting Dr Irwin and Karen Redlener’s Ukraine Children’s Action Project. The event will open with “Playing for Change,” a sponsored play-a-thon for Ukraine — with musicians of all ages and abilities signing up and getting sponsored to perform on the portico of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery. Later in the day, inside the church, “Killing the Silence” will showcase chamber music by Ukrainian composers, with special guests the renowned Ukrainian chorus Dumka.

The stateside debut of Ukrainian sensation KOMMUNA LUX will bring Ukraine Day to a close. The seven-piece band has been raising money and spirits across Ukraine with its unique and exhilarating blend of “Odesa gangsta folk.” At DROM, they will be joined by Julie Gold, Frank London, Willie Nile and others, including David Amram. All of them will stand with Ukraine and give KOMMUNA LUX a true New York City welcome… . Assuming USCIS grants the Ukrainian musicians entry visas.

Greenwich Village’s place at the forefront of the fight for gay rights will be marked with “A Drag Salute to Martha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera” at the Stonewall Inn.

“We feel it’s important to combine fun and significance, just as denizens of the Village have done for many, many years,” said Liz Thomson, the founder of The Village Trip and joint artistic director of the festival with Cliff Pearson.

“At a moment when essential rights are under attack, we need to honor the neighborhood’s role as a hotbed of artistic and social activism, while showing how the fight continues,” Pearson stated.

New initiatives at this year’s Village Trip include film and photography, stand-up comedy and a children’s program, “Songwriting to Save the World” with David Roth.

Gail Papp will be talking about her life with Joe Papp and the Public Theater at Joe’s Pub on Sept. 18.

Two unique events honor Village women with important stories to tell: At the Bitter End, on Sept. 12, Terri Thal, Bob Dylan’s first manager, will headline an evening of songs and stories celebrating the heyday of the Village folk scene with Tom Paxton and Happy Traum. At Joe’s Pub, on Sept. 18, Gail Merrifield Papp will be talking about her life with Joe Papp and the Public Theater, to which she brought such groundbreaking productions as “Hair” and “The Normal Heart.” She will be in conversation with award-winning director and playwright George C. Wolfe.

Music is once more at the heart of the 17-day festival — folk, rock, hip-hop and jazz, and an eclectic and wide-ranging classical and new music program that launches TVT2023 on Sept. 8 with a rare performance of “Vexations” by Erik Satie at New York University’s new Paulson Center. The 30-pianist relay team will play the piece in a 15-hour marathon marking the 60th anniversary of the star-studded NYC premiere organized by John Cage. Westbeth composer David del Tredici will close the monumental event – just as he did in 1963. The festival will feature world-class performances by established and up-and-coming talent, and premieres of compositions by Victoria Bond, Carman Moore, Aleksandra Vrebalov and Errollyn Wallen, all rooted in the Village.

The festival kicks into high gear on Sat., Sept 9, with The Village Trip at the Eighth Street Block Party, an outdoor concert headlined by festival Artist Emeritus David Amram with friends and surprise guests.

Two contrasting concerts mark Rosh Hashanah: At the first, Grammy-garlanded Janis Siegel and friends John di Martino and Cantor Daniel Kramer will present a unique evening of Yiddish classics with a backbeat. At the second, Avram Pengas and David Amram will lead an exuberant celebration of Jewish roots music and its wide-ranging influence. All of this honors the Lower East Side’s legacy of immigrants enriching our culture. A cabaret performance of Leonard Bernstein’s great Downtown musical “Wonderful Town,” with Jamie Bernstein, Janis Siegel and friends, transfers to Joe’s Pub following its standing-room-only debut last year at North Square Lounge. And there’s a rare opportunity to hear the inimitable Julie Gold, Grammy-winning composer of “From a Distance,” in the intimate surroundings of Greenwich House Music School.

BETTY will be among the performers at The Village Trip’s big concert in Washington Square Park on Sept. 23.

The Village Trip’s signature free concert in Washington Square Park takes place as usual on the festival’s final Saturday, Sept. 23, and it brings together Latin jazz, hip-hop and indie rock with People of Earth, The Peace Poets, and Gloria Steinem’s favorite band, BETTY, who commented: “Washington Square Park continues to be the heart of NYC’s progressive movements and an epicenter for change. There’s an electricity that runs from this power point that can and has ignited the world. We’re thrilled to plug in, tune up and rock out there with the legendary gathering, The Village Trip!”

In addition, there will be walks, talks, the second annual Village Trip Lecture given by historian Eric K. Washington, and an exhibition of paintings, photographs and drawings of Village people past and present. Curated by artist and historian Marc Kehoe, the exhibition of portraits will be on display at the Moshava Gallery throughout the festival.

Booking is now open for all Village Trip ticketed events. Go to and follow the links.

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