Forget Carnegie Hall, It’s All About Bargemusic

My friend Danielle and I on the Bargemusic rooftop

I first visited Bargemusic three years ago when I was a sophomore in college and in my first semester at Columbia. My housemate was a cellist in the joint Columbia and Julliard program and my roommates and I went one night to hear her play at Bargemusic. It was a wonderful experience- the music was incredible, the musicians prodigious and the venue an unpretentious floating mini-concert hall, so I’d been dying to go back ever since.

This afternoon I finally did. Bargemusic is an old coffee barge that has was renovated over 30 years ago to become a home for music. The barge seats about 100 people and sits on the water just beside the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side. The front of the barge accommodates about 4 musicians at a time and the wall behind the musicians is all glass. The audience sits and listens to the musicians play while the New York City skyline rocks gently in the background.

Inside the barge

Programs at Bargemusic include Schumann, Liszt, Rachmanifnoff, Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, Dvorák, and contemporaries like John Cage and even a weekly jazz night. We heard the program Here and Now: American Contemporary Music Series, which included two pieces composed by David Del Tredici, who also played piano in the second piece. I enjoyed the first piece, “Grand Trio” far more than the second, “Love Addiction.” I’m partial to a trio of cello, piano and violin over anything vocal, and the trio was far more unique and varied than “Love Addiction.” “Grand Trio” had a wonderfully tense and edgy atonality, performed by Scott Kluksdahl on cello, Thomas Sauer on piano and Mark Peskanov on violin. Peskanov, the recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and Carnegie Hall’s first Isaac Stern award is President and Artistic Director of Baregemusic and is a regular performer. Tredici also gave a great performance and it was a wonderful experience to hear the composer play his own music.

Bargemusic is a sublime place to hear to music- the repertoire is varied and superlative, the musicians world class, the vibe warm and friendly, and the view is unbeatable. The first time I went was at night, and the skyline sparkled in the background, and this afternoon the sun spilled in through the windows. Although the barge could use a better ventilations system (as far as I could tell it’s not air conditioned), it was a great way to spend the afternoon. All tickets are a mere $35 ($15-20 for students). For more information on upcoming performances go to Bargemusic’s website, and don’t miss Mark Peskanov’s behind the scenes blog!

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