Monday, February 19, 2007

"Live from Miami Beach!"

This image was lifted from Critical Miami, which has covered the plans closely.

This week New World Symphony's musicians are unusually busy - preparing for a Shostakovich festival and concerts on Friday and Saturday, a master class with Yo-Yo Ma on Thursday, and a tour to New York's Carnegie Hall next week. It's hard to look beyond the next week when you have so much stuff to do.

The administration and staff are looking much further though, launching an ambitious project to build a new hall, designed by Frank Gehry. They've been planning the hall for several years, and occasionally inviting musicians upstairs to show off these fantastic blueprints and artist's renderings, like the one above. Last week, they brought the show and tell to the Miami Beach City Commission chambers, on 17th and Convention Center Dr., for a workshop meeting over a proposed $15 million grant. Tomorrow at 5 pm, the City Commission will meet there again and vote on the proposal.

As the Miami Herald reported yesterday, last week's meeting featured speeches by president Howard Herring, project manager Grant Stevens, and board chairman Howard Frank (the Herald mistakenly called him "Frank Howard"). The most illuminating speech, though, was by artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas, and wasn't mentioned in the Herald's piece.

MTT acknowledged congratulations for the two Grammy awards he had won the previous evening, then tied that into the larger missions of both the San Francisco Symphony (which received those Grammys for a recording of Mahler's 7th Symphony) and the New World Symphony. Both organizations are developing new relationships between classical music and the larger culture, and empowering their orchestral musicians to take an active role.

He described how the new hall would develop and enhance that role. He contrasted the Lincoln Theater, which for all its charm and history (music and porn, as Dan Wakin noted) is basically a "one-room schoolhouse." The new space would offer possibilities for broadcasting, multimedia, and engagement that we probably can barely imagine. He mentioned the use of video projections and Internet 2, and the dream of hearing "Live from Miami Beach!" all around the world. The design of the space is like a traditional concert hall turned inside-out, facing the community and the world through the use of new technology, and a very old tradition.

The whole presentation was really impressive - I was one of those NWS musicians packing the balcony with handmade signs - and it made me realize that what we do here does have a larger impact. Most of us won't be around in 2010-11, when the hall is slated to open, but I still came away thinking orchestral music might be about changing the world, not just earning a pension. When the hall does open, I'll definitely be tuning into my iPhone, VistaDoohickey, or whatever other newfangled gizmo is broadcasting that first "Live from Miami Beach!"

1 comment:

thedevilcorp said...

For your consideration.