Via The New York Times, written by Zachary Woolfe:
You will not immediately be able to know, when it opens a little over a year from now, that there is anything very special about the Original Music Workshop. Aside from a few large windows, from the outside it will look like any of the old factory buildings scattered throughout Williamsburg.
Appearances can be deceiving. Nestled inside the building’s weathered brick shell will be a small concert hall with translucent ceiling and walls set at dozens of jagged angles: “a radiant jewel,” its architect, Bureau V, promises, in a scruffy postindustrial box.
On Thursday evening all that was still many months in the future as dozens of people gathered, surrounded by the factory’s looming brick walls under a clear, starry sky, for a glimpse of the raw space and a preview of the hall’s programming plans, which will be fleshed out in a series of concerts at the Greene Space over the coming year.
There has recently been a boom in fresh spots for new music in Brooklyn, including the brand-new BAM Fisher at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Galapagos Art Space (which moved from Williamsburg to Dumbo in 2008); Roulette; and the Issue Project Room, situated, like the Original Music Workshop, in a kind of modern ruin.
PhotoA performance designed by the artist Erika Harrsch, with butterfly-shaped kites, was among the acts at Original Music Workshop in Williamsburg on Thursday. Credit Marcus Yam for The New York Times
The workshop — led by the creative director Paola Prestini, herself a noted composer — will have in common with these other halls an emphasis on variety. Anchored by a select group of resident ensembles and artists, the programming will span opera, indie rock, electronica and Baroque. On Thursday, in a concert called “Skyful,” the quartet Brooklyn Rider’s performance of Gyorgy Kurtag’s icy, potent “Microludes” shared the bill with the sexily smoky voice of Magos Herrera, paying tribute to the great Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, who died last month.
Despite the high walls, the outside world was never too far away. One of two pieces written and performed by the excellent clarinetist Kinan Azmeh used melodies sung during the recent demonstrations in Mr. Azmeh’s native Syria. In a performance designed by the visual artist Erika Harrsch, butterfly-shaped kites were printed with blown-up images of American currency, a beautiful but melancholy accompaniment to works for flute duet by Mario Diaz de León and Julian Wachner. The intense soprano Tony Arnold sang fragments of popular song lyrics in a stratospheric register in the Talea Ensemble’s performance of Bernhard Lang’s “DW 16: Songbook 1,” her piercing notes matched by bursts of Geoff Landman’s saxophone.
The founder of the Original Music Workshop, Kevin Dolan, has donated $8 million of the project’s $14 million cost, but there are still significant fund-raising hurdles to clear. On Thursday, though, it was easy to feel hopeful and excited that the evening’s richness and range would be a fixture of the city for many years to come.