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If something can make classical music cool again, it just might be the Chelsea Music Festival which begins this Friday, June 15. Even professionally trained musicians who have moved onto careers in law, banking and consulting admitted to being moved by last night’s gala and preview at the Park Avenue Armory (including yours truly). Beyond the remarkable performances it commands, of which the schedule for the festival is a testament, the Chelsea Music Festival knows that the arts cannot be experienced in a vacuum, and that in fact, the combination of sensory experiences can enhance the appreciation of past and present culture.

As such, the Chelsea Music Festival is actually a multi-sensory and cultural experience, mixing modern and classical music with the culinary delights of Lance Nitahara (winner of TV Food Network’s ‘Chopped,’ and sous chef on Iron Chef America), world-renown perfumer Christophe Laudamiel, and numerous visual artists. According to Laudamiel, who developed a special scent for the Chelsea Music Festival, that wafted through the air during the performances, the festival is a “Your brain functions with your nose, as it does with your eyes and ears,” Laudamiel told the audience.

The hallowed spaces of the Park Avenue Armory at last night’s gala concert and preview were also perfect fit for the festival. It’s a building comfortable with its position between past and present: the high ceilings and wooden neoclassical details of its period rooms are counterbalanced by a patina of age that enhances the experience of being there. I felt a tinge of regret that restoration would cover over the exposed plaster–there’s something about a building that admits its age.

The intimacy of the event filtered down to the very last detail–the flickering candles and lit fireplace, the ease in which the organizers and artists mixed with the attendees, genuinely curious how they came to the event and the humility of the board members, who seemed honored to be able to bring something new to New York City.  Hailed by the New York Times as a “gem of a series,” the festival was founded by Ken-David Masur and Melinda Lee Masur, and this year’s programming follows a French-Japanese theme.

For art and architecture buffs, you’ll have another chance to check out The Park Avenue Armory during the festival, as well as the always forward-thinking Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, The Rubin Museum of Art and the Dillon Gallery. Some events are ticketed, others free. Full schedule below and link to tickets:

SCHEDULE of 2012 Chelsea Music Festival Performances, Locations and Ticket Prices

June 15, Friday, 7:30pm
FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT & Themed Culinary Reception — Debussy I: Debussy after the Wave
$65 / $55 Senior-Student
Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, 540 West 21st Street

June 16, Saturday
10:30am – Family Event I: Mister Origami Presents: Folding and Unfolding Color, Flavor and Sound!
$30 (2 adults/2 children) / $15 Individuals
NYCAMS Gallery, 44 West 28th Street, floor 7

6:30pm – Festival Talks: The Great Wave, Silence & Song – Capturing the Forces of Nature
featuring Somei Satoh, Makoto Fujimura, Yumi Kurosawa; Ken-David Masur, Valerie Dillon
FREE
Dillon Gallery, 555 West 25th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues

7:30pm – Debussy II: Sketches, Prints & Screens
Themed Culinary Reception to Follow
$60 / $50 Senior-Student
Dillon Gallery, 555 West 25th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues

June 17, Sunday
5:00pm – Debussy III: Messiaen Enveloped
$40 / $30 Senior-Student
Dillon Gallery, 555 West 25th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues
7:30pm – OPEN CAGE: NEW YORK — Celebrating John Cage at 100 Reception to follow
$25
Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, 540 West 21st Street

June 18, Monday, 7:30pm
On Silence
$40 / $30 Senior-Student
The Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues

June 20, Wednesday, 7:30pm
Debussy IV: Creation, Love and Life Everlasting Reception to follow
$40 / $30 Senior-Student
Leo Baeck Institute, 15 West 16th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

June 21, Thursday, 7:00-10:45pm
Debussy V: Poet of the Avant-Garde — Sounds and Fragrances Swirl through the Evening Air
Themed Culinary Intermission
$60 / $50 Senior-Student
Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets

June 22, Friday, 6:00pm-midnight
The Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues
6:00-10:00pm – DJ: DCD Collective FREE

7:00pm – Debussy VI: Violin Daybreak – Carte Blanche to CMF 2012 Artist-in-Residence and Anne-Sophie Mutter
Foundation violinist Fanny Clamagirand
$40 / $30 Senior-Student; $50 / $40 Senior-Student includes 10:00pm Rêverie-Mix

10:00pm РDebussy VII: R̻verie-Mix
$20 / $10 if combined with 7pm Violin Daybreak

June 23, Saturday
10:30am – Family Event II: Monsieur Croche Presents: How to Cakewalk in Color, Song and Sound!
$30 (2 adults/2 children) / $15 Individuals
NYCAMS Gallery, 44 West 28th Street, floor 7

7:30pm – FESTIVAL FINALE & Themed Culinary Reception – Debussy VIII: Cherry Blossom Road
$65 / $55 Senior-Student
Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, 540 West 21st Street

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.

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