All performances at Bargemusic are exciting and special; however, on New Year’s Eve each year, the program is typically all-Bach and invariably all-wonderful! This year will be no different. On December 31, the program will be Bach Sonatas one through six, featuring Mark Peskanov on violin and Steven Beck on piano. For further information and reservations, please go to: www.bargemusic.org.
Moored in Brooklyn just under the Brooklyn Bridge, Bargemusic presents great music all year long. Walk across the gangplank of a renovated coffee barge into a wonderfully intimate wood paneled room with thrilling views of lower Manhattan and excellent acoustics. You’ll understand why critics call this place “the perfect chamber-music hall” and why artists say it is unlike any other place in the world to perform.
Since 1977, Bargemusic has presented chamber music in this unlikely and startlingly beautiful setting. Both established and emerging musicians perform here on a small stage with the dramatic backdrop of the East River and lower Manhattan skyline.
From its inception, Bargemusic has been committed to attracting local audiences and enhancing the cultural life of New York by offering frequent, year-round performances of chamber music in a fittingly intimate setting – the type of setting in which chamber music is meant to be heard. To make that unique musical experience available to as many people as possible, it presents 220 chamber music concerts annually – four days a week, 52 weeks a year – and offers free ticketks to a variety of groups every week, plus a monthly free concert open to the community.
The Bargemusic story
Founder Olga Bloom was 57 years old in 1976 when she gave up her career as a violinist to create Bargemusic. For her “floating concert hall,” she chose a 100-foot steel barge that had been built in 1899 and had served much of the last century as a working vessel in the New York harbor, delivering hand-loaded sacks of coffee for the Erie Lackawanna railroad. Back then the barge was a somber railroad green; now it is painted white, and the last vestige of its prior life hauling coffee is the “EL 375” embossed in the diamond plate steel deck facing the East River.
Olga renovated the barge herself, together with her brother, his wife and a preschool daughter and a violin student of hers. Olga recalls: “In Averne, a borderline community betwen Nassau County and Queens, a hospitable boatyard provided us with space and helpful tutelage by experienced waterfront dwellers. We depended on our intuition and a length of string for taking measurements. We solved the problem of achieving good acoustics by the inspiration found in the resonant interior of a violin, and in the practical advice that we visit a maritime scrap yard on Staten Island. The proprietor there offered a hugh supply of paneling, mahogany stripping, and cherry wood benches retired from duty on the original Staten Island ferry. For up to a year and a half I made weekly trips from the scrap yard with materials weighing down my VW Beetle until it almost scraped the ground.
“Captain Hearnley, my neighbor in the Averne boatyard and resident owner of a very small red towboat, was a sensible man. He wore a white cap and always knew what lay underwater. He was the first to suggest the site which we now occupy. When Peter Stanford, who presided over the Maritime Museum at Fulton Ferry Landing, invited us to moor here, Captain Hearnley volunteered to tow us to our new life. It took most of the day to round the coast of Brooklyn because the towboat was so small and we were so heavy.
“Today our cargo is beautiful music. Our audience and supporters are the good, brave, strong towboats pulling us along in our destiny – as are the fine artists from all over the world who perform here, and our good, brave, strong captain, Mark Peskanov, who programs our mystical endeavor.”
Olga Bloom passed away on November 24, 2011 at the age of 92, but, when you enter this wonderful concerthall, you’re aware that Olga’s indomitable spirit lives on.