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Less than a year after the death of its founder, the Issue Project Room took one big step toward realizing her ultimate goal of an avant-garde music space firmly rooted in the heart of Brooklyn.
On Sunday, Issue opened the doors of its new space in the former Board of Education building at 110 Livingston St. and initiated Downtown to its highly praised artistic sensibility with an offbeat marathon performance.
“We’re going to introduce the neighborhood to the type of culture that it can soon expect on a daily basis,” said Sarah Garvey of Issue Project Room, founded in 2003 in Manhattan by the late Suzanne Fiol. “We’re trying to connect the artistic community — as well as the artists to the audience.”
And the show was a welcome jolt to the normally sober neighborhood. Anyone who stopped by during the epic six-hour performance got a gander at Issue Project Room’s new home, a grand, stylish space built in 1926 as a national headquarters for the Elks Club.
“The designers of the Sydney Opera House said it is designed similar to European chamber halls,” said Garvey. “It has perfect acoustics for a chamber ensemble.”
And indeed, the acoustics were excellent — but only a preview of what the space will look like after it’s renovated.
Issue still needs to raise a little more than half of the $2.5 million necessary to fully utilize the space by giving it proper lighting, speakers, audio equipment, bathrooms and offices.
And Issue is keen to assemble the funds — the clock is already ticking on the group’s 20-year, rent-free lease, which developer David Walentas gave to the non-profit in 2008.
But on Sunday, the Spartan digs only added to the candlelit ambience of the show.
For roughly six hours, The Ne(x)tworks Quartet performed Morton Feldman’s “Second String Quartet” in its entirety — an odyssey of subtle sounds described by Issue as a prime example of the composer’s experiments with “free rhythms, muted pitches, quiet and slowly unfolding music, and duration.”
The New Yorker described Feldman’s music as “agonizingly beautiful worlds of sound … glacially slow and snowily soft.”
The New York Times chimed in as well, calling the trance-like music “a performance for the ages.”
Some visitors came and went as they pleased — a welcoming attitude that would certainly make Fiol proud.
Other, more hardcore fans, stayed for the entire performance. A few members of the audience fell asleep.
The mixture of devoted fans of contemporary music and merely curious onlookers was in keeping with Issue’s ethos.
Fiol always dreamed of a permanent location that would encourage artists to venture into more experimental territory while simultaneously embracing the public. Finally, that location opened its doors last Sunday.
Issue Project Room [110 Livingston St. at Boerum Place in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 330-0313].
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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