A stroll through Soundscape

By | January 27th, 2011 | No Comments

Last night I walked over to New World Symphony’s new Miami Beach campus and found the mega projector in Soundscape, a 2.5 acre public park with a really bad name, beaming a series of images onto the 7,000-square-foot plaster wall of the Frank Gehry-designed concert hall.

I believe each slide consisted of the “shards” of images of the campus under construction as if frozen in mid shatter (but maybe someone spiked my vitamin water). The image resolution was incredible, and watching concerts and films in Soundscape should pretty much rule. (NB: The first “Wallcast” is this Friday night, free of charge.)

Last night’s slideshow did not transition smoothly from image to image (à la your typical Mac fade-and-zoom photo slideshow) but in a measured, slowly-turning-gear kind of way. For the hell of it, I took a series of photos of the projection wall as the images cycled and decided to try to duplicate the effect with an animated .gif, something I’d never made before. (Again, I suspect the water.) You can check out the result after the jump, as we have a strict policy against moving objects on our front page.

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Can Michael Tilson Thomas make classical music cool?

By | January 24th, 2011 | 13 Comments

The New World Symphony's new home -- photo by Moris Moreno, New York Times

On Wednesday, the New World Symphony will perform the opening concert at its new campus in Miami Beach. Designed by starchitect Frank Gehry, the campus centerpiece is a 756-seat concert hall that NWS artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas hopes will do no less than fundamentally transform the general public’s impression of classical music. Put simply: MTT hopes the building will make classical music cool. With this goal, it is no surprise he turned to long-time friend and former babysitter (!) Gehry, who, at 81, is one of the world’s brashest builders and has a track record of turning “Where?” to “THERE” with a single structure (see Bilbao).

Of course, Miami itself is on the map, but classical music is pretty much invisible in terms of its popularity among today’s youth. (Name one contemporary composer.) MTT apparently did not interpret this as evidence of the genre’s irrelevance in the age of Beiber Fever, nor as proof of the deterioration of the contemporary ear. Rather he came to the conclusion that young’ns today would love classical music — maybe even tweet about it (@PGlass *only* five minutes of silence? #weak) — if they ever experienced it.

To this end, Gehry devised a building that the masses can enter without ever walking through the front door. Its facade consists of a large, latticed glass wall that allows passersby to see in and, importantly, NWS musicians to see out. In other words, it isn’t a wall; it’s a window through which MTT hopes the public and his musicians will come to recognize each other as fellow earthlings. Gehry, for his part, no doubt hopes everyone will find a moment to gawk at the design of the lobby, a serene composition of papery practice rooms that somehow appear to be falling apart and coming together at the same time.

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