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MTA Arts & Design Hosts Music Under New York Auditions at Grand Central Madison

Updated May 15, 2024 8:15 p.m.
Finalists audition for a spot in the MTA Music program

52 Finalists Chosen from More Than 100 Applicants Across All Music Genres Compete to Join the Roster

View Photos from Today’s Auditions

View B-roll from Today’s Auditions

View Video of Welcoming Remarks


Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts & Design today held auditions at Grand Central Madison for the Music Under New York program (MTA MUSIC), now in its 34th year. All auditioning musicians submitted an application to join Music Under New York before the March 1 deadline and 52 finalists were selected. Finalists were given five minutes to perform in front of a panel of more than two dozen judges made up of music industry professionals, members of cultural institutions, and MTA MUSIC musicians.

“It’s always incredible to see the crowd of musicians eager to perform for their spot in the MTA Music program – the judges are definitely tasked with a difficult decision with so much talent,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth. “Music Under New York is an essential part of Arts & Design’s mission to create meaningful experiences for all who use the MTA system and through our annual auditions, MTA MUSIC selects talented new performers to join the roster and elevate the transit experience in the months and years to come.”

“Last year was the first year we held auditions since 2019, so it is great to be back to hosting our annual auditions for MTA Music,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer and Senior Advisor Shanifah Rieara. “Whether you're a frequent subway rider or not, chances are you‘ve encountered one of the many talented performers on your trip, and that’s what this program is all about – creating a positive experience for everyone that travels through New York’s transit system.”

Auditionees were judged on quality, appropriateness for the transit environment and musical variety with the goal of increasing the number of genres represented in the program. Twenty-five new acts will be added to the program roster and MTA Arts & Design will announce the new program members in June.

This year, the morning performances included salsa, funk, Andean music, Latin fusion, jazz ensembles, folk, electric violin, accordion, and Charango guitar. The afternoon session included classical, pop, reggae, rock, rhythm & blues, singer-songwriters, Bolero, and Gayageum.


MTA MUSIC has more than 350 performers showcasing classical strings, jazz ensembles, world music bands, folk, a cappella groups, singer-songwriters and more, featuring a wide range of instruments such as the Gambian kora, Korean drum, West Indian steel drums, Andean pipes, Cajun cello, Celtic and Baroque harps, guitars, violins, hammered dulcimers and musical saws. Performers are programmed at across 45 MTA MUSIC locations throughout the transit system, including subway stations and MTA commuter rail terminals and the Staten Island Ferry terminal. MTA Arts & Design presents more than 7,500 musical performances in the transit system every year. The musicians perform in designated locations with a Music Under New York banner that features their name and the Music Under New York logo.