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My personal experiences at Carnegie Hall.
In the fifties, when I visited New York, I stayed at The Great Northern Hotel, owned by Jack Dempsey, which was on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Fifty-seventh street - Carnegie Hall was on Fifty-seventh and Seventh Avenue. Of course I walked by it many times, and I looked in, but never attended any concerts, until one night Sarah Vaughan called and asked me to meet her and her husband, CB Atkins, in front of Carnegie Hall. I did; we went in and listened to Ray Charles. It was grand. After the show, we went back stage to visit Ray. It was a wonderful experience.
One Sunday, I was window shopping at a book store near, or next to Carnegie Hall, when I bumped into a couple, who were also window shopping. I turned to apologize and was in awe. I had bumped into Henry Fonda; his daughter was standing next to him. They smiled and he said something, I don't remember what, but it was pleasant. Good memories.
I was visiting Sir Lionel
Brooklyn. Lionel asked me to go with him to an opening of a club,
"Miss Lacey’s," next to Carnegie Hall. Lionel was doing the
set-up for the party. Barbara Lacey, was the owner. she was a fun person.
The club had three floors; with the bar by the entrance, to the left was a
flight of stairs down to the second floor that continued down to the lower
floor. I took my camera along and shot photos of the set-up for Lionel.
RCA hired me to go to Toronto to photograph
a rock band called "Lighthouse," It was a unique band, with
thirteen pieces. They were trying to bridge the generation gap. There were
trumpets, saxophones, strings (cellos and Violins), vibes. They had
a great sound and they were a
good bunch of guys. I spent a week with them, and then returned to New
York. Two weeks later they would be playing at Carnegie Hall. That’s
another story. Of course I was
there with them.
Article by Ira Rosenblum:
Carnegie's acoustics are legendary, though some feel the sound was compromised after much-needed renovations were completed in 1986. (A concrete slab under the stage, discovered in 1995, didn't help matters and was later removed.) Once you get past the claustrophobic lobby, you're in for a visual and sonic treat. On the walls are photos and letters from famous composers, singers, instrumentalists and conductors. The seats are plush and the gilded décor ravishing. Even if a performance does not live up to your expectations, a visit to Carnegie always does.
During intermission, instead of squeezing into the lobby or the Cafe Carnegie, stop by the Rose Museum on the First Tier level, where interesting music-related exhibits give you a taste of the hall's illustrious history. On the same level are another cafe, the Rohatyn Room, and a gift shop. But beware: The shop is even more claustrophobic than the lobby. Ira Rosenblum