Sounds of America Gramophone’s guide to the classical scene in the US and Canada

Focus Park Avenue Armory – page I » The Scene Musical highlights – page IV » Recording reviews – page IX

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Drill Hall 2011, clockwise from left: the transfinite by Ryoji Ikeda; the powerLess, Tune-In Music Festival; this year’s featured artist and festival co-curator Philip glass venUe for the 21st CentUry An Upper east Side military hall completed in 1881 is fast becoming one of new york’s most important cultural venues, finds Vivien Schweitzer

Some of the most exciting musical events in New York in recent years have taken place in the vast Drill Hall of Park Avenue Armory, which, since it first staged a production as an arts venue in September 2007, is fast becoming one of the city’s most important 21st-century cultural institutions. In February 2011, the audience sat in pitch darkness for much of Georg Friedrich Haas’s In Vain – a stunning spectral work of shimmering soundscapes. The audience seating for Die Soldaten, a modernist opera by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, rolled back and forth on railway tracks, literally drawing the audience into the action.

The Armory’s huge space, the length of a football field with an 80-foot-high ceiling and cathedral-like acoustics, will be put to good use again on June 29 and 30 when the New York Philharmonic perform Stockhausen’s Gruppen, a massive and rarely performed work scored for three orchestras. The ensembles will surround the audience in the form of a horseshoe. Music director Alan Gilbert will share conducting duties with Magnus Lindberg and Matthias Pintscher.

The concert, like many musical events at the Armory, features an eclectic line-up: the programme also includes Pierre Boulez’s Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna, the Act 1 finale from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Ives’s The Unanswered Question. Another intriguing musical event, the US premiere of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The Murder of Crows, runs from August 3 to September 9. Billed as a three-part, 30-minute composition that ‘animates the Armory’s cavernous Drill Hall with a dreamlike soundscape that weaves together a fluttering of voices, music, and sounds’, the work features 98 speakers mounted on stands, chairs and walls throughout the hall. Unconventional and exciting programming