Hall Opens Its Third Stage
Sep 10, 9:34 PM EST
19th century steel magnate Andrew Carnegie envisioned the music hall
that would bear his name, he had planned for three performance spaces.
week, his wish has been granted. A century after the last live musical
performance on Carnegie's third stage, Zankel
Hall has been born.
Wednesday afternoon, a special preview concert got the first hearing
with performances that ranged from solo voice; a choir of eight cellos
and soprano; an ensemble that included trash cans, wash basins and
gongs; a jazz quintet; and African flutes.
Wednesday night, some of the people who donated the $100 million to
more than cover the construction were getting a private concert. Zankel
(pronounced zan-Kell) opens to the public Friday with Pulitzer Prize-winning
composer John Adams conducting music by Charles Ives, Lou Harrison
and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
first concert at Carnegie Hall actually was on the third stage, a
piano recital one month before the opening of the main auditorium
in 1891. Four years later, the recital space was rented to a theater
group whose performers later included Edward G. Robinson, Spencer
Tracy and Anne Bancroft.
recently the site of a movie theater, the space has now been transformed
into a versatile performance venue that seats 540 to 644, depending
on configuration. It provides an intermediate-size venue to Carnegie's
2,804-seat Isaac Stern Auditorium and its 268-seat Weill Recital Hall.
subterranean reclamation project began in 1999 under the leadership
Carnegie's late executive director, Judith Arron, and saw its completion
under Robert J. Harth, who took over at Carnegie two years ago.
It cost $72 million, with $10 million from Carnegie Hall vice chairman
Arthur Zankel and his wife, Judy.
involved scooping out more than 6,300 cubic yards of bedrock, enough
to fill 1 1/2 Olympic-size swimming pools. to a depth below street
level of as much as 40 feet. Workers were still laying the sidewalk
outside at midnight Tuesday.
hall turned out to be a handsome venue with stylish American sycamore
trim, studio lighting above, lots of leg room in front and yet a coziness
that draws the audience close to the performers.
intimacy in New York City. I love it. It's so beautiful," the soprano
Renee Fleming told the matinee audience.
aside, the big question is how does it sound?
digging left a mere 9 feet between the hall and the New York subway
system. When quiet moments in the music converged with a passing train,
the rumble of the subway could be heard. But it sounded distant and
was not more intrusive than an air conditioner.
afternoon's concert was a display of Zankel's versatility. It featured
the pianist Emanuel Ax performing Debussy's "Pagodes" and accompanying
Fleming in two songs by Richard Strauss, the exuberant "Caecilie"
and the contemplative "Morgen."
also sang Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Bachiana brasileria No. 5" with the
accompaniment of the cello octet featuring the lyrical solos of Edward
Arron, son of Carnegie's late executive director.
ensemble conducted by Adams played Harrison's "Concerto in slendro."
It featured adroit violin solos by Jennifer Koh accompanied by three
keyboardists and two percussionists playing on trash cans, wash basins
Kenny Barron Quintet performed two jazz numbers using amplification,
along with nifty playing, especially by vibraphonist Stefon Harris.
The Fula Flute Ensemble came out in West African robes and performed
delightfully on traditional instruments and voice.
concert began with the dramatic appearance of Fleming singing the
world premiere of a solo work by John Corigliano, "Shatter Me, Music."
me, music, with rhythmical fury," Fleming began while standing on
the darkened stage under a blue light. "Behold your glory!"
picked up the theme later in his comments to the audience: "From now
on, there's nothing but music."