Kennedy Center’s lucky pre-shutdown timing: Makeover for concert hall, NSO black-tie gala
Philadelphia Orchestra’s Carnegie concert cancelled The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Nezet Seguin conducts Concertino Cusqueno by Gabriela Lene Frank at Martin Luther King High School during a Matrtin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert Monday January 21, 2013. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer ) Travel Deals Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic Last updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 11:55 AM Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 11:35 AM A stagehand strike has forced the cancellation of Carnegie Hall’s Wednesday night black-tie gala season-opener, at which the Philadelphia Orchestra was to have been the featured ensemble. The stagehands, represented by Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, were working under a contract that expired Aug. 31, and called a strike at 8 a.m., according to a union statement. “Carnegie Hall sincerely regrets any inconvenience this strike will cause our artists, concertgoers, and everyone with whom we work,” said Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. “We are disappointed that, despite the fact that the stagehands have one of the most lucrative contracts in the industry, they are now seeking to expand their jurisdiction beyond the concert hall and into the new Education Wing in ways that would compromise Carnegie Hall’s education mission. There is no precedent for this anywhere in New York City.” Calls to IATSE’s Local One were not immediately returned. The concert was to have been led by music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, with violinist Joshua Bell and vocalist/double bassist Esperanza Spalding. They will not be performing at a $1,500-per-ticket dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, but will be invited as guests, a Carnegie Hall spokesman said. Instead of performing a black-tie concert at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra and its music director will take to the stage of Verizon Hall for a free 6:30 “pop-up” performance. The informal, 75-minute concert, with no intermission, will include works of Mozart and Tchaikovsky.
And I want to thank the painters for finishing before tomorrow night. The timing, he admitted to laughter, was dumb luck. The gala concert was scheduled more than a year ago, so the $1 million repair and paint job (white, silver, and gold, which nicely matched the NSOs gleaming new organ) was completed over the summer long before a government shutdown threatened the national arts complex. Yo-Yo Ma and Cameron Carpenter. (Margot Schulman) The Kennedy Center has an unusual relationship with the feds: The government pays for the building, grounds and upkeep; private donations pay for performances, staff and other programs, explained spokesman John Dow. The shutdown contingency plans allow concerts, shows and educational programs to continue, but tours will be suspended and the building closed until an hour before evening performances. Of the centers 1,200 full and part-time employees, about 50 are directly impacted by the government going out of business. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts chats with Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein at the gala. (Margot Schulman) Which gave the annual NSO gala a certain fin de siecle vibe: VIP patrons (including Justices John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy) in gowns and tuxedos, a post-performance dinner and dancing in a candlelit tent, music lovers clustered around cellist Yo-Yo Ma, organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter (steampunk classical in a mohawk, feathered Victorian cravat and rhinestone boots), and conductor Christoph Eschenbach. The gala, chaired by former General Dynamics president Jay Johnson and Sydney Johnson, raised $1.3 million for the NSOs educational programs. Oh, and Rubenstein has a proposal for those warring factions on the Hill. As all of you have heard, music can be beautiful, he said. It can soothe people and make them feel better. So wed like to invite all 535 members of Congress to come tomorrow for a concert. .