Mormon Arts Center

Journal

Board members and participants capture behind-the-scenes activities of the Mormon Arts Center in frequent posts.

On Carnegie Hall

I went by Carnegie Hall today, and I was surprised to see the poster for the Scott Holden recital in the beautiful outside display cases at Carnegie Hall. It was a proud moment, an arrival.

When I first arrived in New York as a college student, I would scrape together $9 to buy a ticket on the back row of the balcony. I convinced myself that the sound was actually better up there. I had an entirely unproven theory that the curved ceiling delivered the sound directly to my ears.

I would wander the halls at intermission and look at the signed photographs and musical manuscripts of performers in the hall's history: everybody from Tschaikovsky who conducted the inaugural concert in 1891 to the Beatles and beyond. 

For years I sang in a big choir, and we rehearsed every Tuesday night above the hall. I learned how to take this or that secret door to get around in the bowels of the building. And I became a little bit of a scholar of the LDS connection to Carnegie Hall. These included violent scandals when Mormons interrupted anti-Mormon marches that became a riot. More tame were weekly radio and then TV broadcasts by LDS pianist Grant Johannesen during the Bell Telephone Hour years, and then multiple appearances by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Of course, there have been hundreds of individual performers who are LDS in the hall. The most recent that I attended was Erin Morley singing the female lead in Bernstein's Candide.

The Scott Holden recital will be in Zankel Hall. It is the medium-sized recital hall that seats 599 underneath Stern Hall, which is the large venue that seats about 3700. I used to go to movies in that space before it was renovated and turned into Zankel. 

Still, after all these years which included about a dozen evenings when I performed in Carnegie myself, I don't know if I've ever been happier than now, seeing the Mormon Arts Center poster on display in the gorgeous cases outside the building. 

Glen Nelson