With the Labor Day holiday arriving a little later this year, the summer seems a bit longer. I don’t know anyone who isn't grateful. While many festivals finish their seasons in August, a few extend into the warm weeks of September. And this summer has brought some remarkable exhibitions, worldwide. There are only a few weeks to catch them, but any of them will refresh, provide a cultural charge, and give your imagination a boost—just in time for fall. Here are my picks:
Basel, Switzerland. "Vincent van Gogh, Between Earth and
Heaven: The Landscapes" at the Kunstmuseum Basel (through September
27). In his intense short
career, Van Gogh produced some 70 landscape paintings, depicting scenes
in Holland, southern, and northern France. They are gathered in Basel
for a landmark show, drawn from public and private collections as far
as Hawaii and Japan, some lent for the first time. Because of their
fragile state, some canvases may not travel again. That's why you
“The experience of live music is unique and its immediacy and impact irreplaceable,” states the program of the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, currently underway in Fort Worth, Texas, where 29 young pianists (upper age limit: 30) from around the world are competing in the most challenging, and certainly best-organized and innovative, classical music contest. The Cliburn, divided into three rounds—preliminaries, semi-finals, and finals—includes recitals, performances of commissioned pieces, chamber music, and concertos with orchestra, and is packed into little more than two weeks. It wraps up on June 7. Its aim: to discover talent worthy of a career and to provide a sustained push. When I was in Fort Worth last weekend, I heard two pianists in one of the preliminary sessions: Michail Lifits , born in Uzbekistan, representing Germany, and Alessandro Deljavan of Italy.
Lincoln Center recently opened the dazzlingly renovated Alice Tully Hall that provides an intimacy—even with a capacity of 1,100 seats—both palpable and rewarding for concertgoers. Tully (above) is now an enviable place for chamber music, and should be a lively spot for multi-media (there’s a state-of-the-art movie screen). The new hall prompted me to think of other spots in New York that put the listener on the frontline of the music-making. Here are some favorites:
Le Poisson Rouge The former Village Gate subterranean nightclub in Greenwich Village morphed last summer into the “multi-media art cabaret” Le Poisson Rouge. When pianist Simone Dinnerstein, much admired for her Bach Goldberg Variations, performed there, the piano was set on a platform in the middle of the space and the audience packed café tables and bar (yes, there’s a full bar). This month Poisson features an eclectic genre-bending line-up.
Baryshnikov Arts Center Pressed for time? Looking for something unusual and free? The Movado Hour concerts at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in far west Midtown offers 60-minute programs that blend the familiar with the less well known. Contrasts are engaging. Concerts start at 7 p.m., take place in a loft-like space, and are gratis (reservations are required). Performers are starry, audiences appreciative. There’s a cozy feel. On April 20, the St. Lawrence String Quartet devotes its attention to Mendelssohn and the String Quartet No. 3 by R. Murray Schafer, a contemporary composer known for evocative soundscape pieces. Rubin Art Museum Some of the city’s most innovative programming—lectures, music, film—materializes in the small, cherry wood auditorium of the Rubin Art Museum, which is dedicated to Himalayan art and housed in the former Barneys department store in Chelsea. But for the world premiere on April 23 of minimalist composer John Tavener’s Towards Silence—described as a musical meditation on death and the four states of consciousness—the setting shifts to the building’s dramatic spiral staircase (originally designed for the store by Andrée Putman), along which four string quartets and a player of the Tibetan singing bowl will be positioned. The music is bound to soar.
Mario R. Mercado is the Arts editor for Travel + Leisure.