One of our favorite things about the Chelsea Music Festival every year is the great variety of venues where the concerts take place. This year’s festival opened on Friday with an evening called “Air on a New York Skyline”—an appropriate name, as the concert took place at Canoe Studios on the 14th floor of Chelsea’s historic Starrett-Lehigh Building, one of the most important architectural sites on the Hudson River.
A New York City landmark and part of the West Chelsea Historic District, the Starrett-Lehigh Building was constructed in 1931 as a freight terminal, warehouse, and office building. Located right on the Hudson and occupying a whole city block, it was the ideal place to receive large shipments. Freight cars came right into the building to unload their wares, and were lifted in 30 foot elevators to the upper floors.
With its streamlined design, consisting of 8 miles of continuous glass in steel-encasement windows, the building is a striking example of the ’30s International Style. The Museum of Modern Art agreed, and featured it in the 1932 International Exhibition of Modern Architecture.
Festival-goers were so impressed by the beauty of this unique building and the views it afforded, they gathered around by the windows before the concert began to snap photos. Canoe Studios provided the ideal backdrop for an intimate evening of music celebrating the anniversaries of C. P. E. Bach (300), Richard Strauss (150) and Heitor Villa-Lobos (55). The evening’s program seamlessly transitioned from the 18th century to the present, and included the world premiere of STEMS by Alexandre Lunsqui.
As co-creative director Melinda Masur told us, “Chamber music is at the heart of the festival, and that’s about making music up close. It’s not this big towering symphony hall where the hundred piece orchestra is this far away. You’re up close, watching the musicians do their thing.”
Adhering to the festival’s motto, “hear, taste, see,” Friday’s opening night gala provided a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. After the concert, guests gathered for a reception by culinary artists in residence Lance Nitahara and Sonar Saikia, which combined flavors from German and Brazilian cuisine. The festival also premiered a German red wine never before tasted in the U.S.
Join Untapped Cities and the Chelsea Music Festival for the remaining days of concerts in more unique venues in Chelsea, including St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church and the General Theological Seminary. Check out the full schedule of events here.
Untapped Cities is a proud media partner of the Chelsea Music Festival, now in its fifth season.