Music and cycling, in harmony

By | October 31st, 2013 | No Comments
Alex Chaleff

Alex Chaleff: “Whenever I finish a performance or ride, I always feel, even if I’ve started and ended in the same place, that I’ve changed as a result.”

You may not think classical music and bike riding have much in common, but the two will harmonize during Cycling Night at the New World Symphony on Friday, Nov. 8, which will include a group bike ride, a 30-minute concert by the symphony, and the premiere of the film ‘Bicycle Dreams’ on the New World Center’s 7,000 square foot projection wall (full details). Ahead of the event, New World Symphony violinist and avid cyclist Alex Chaleff describes the intertwined and transformational impact that music and cycling have on his life. — Editor’s note

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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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