Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Rough Sailing at Bargemusic as City Orders Shutdown
Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 04:37 PM
Oct. 1 Update: Bargemusic reopened on Friday night with a performance by the Weilerstein Trio. In a post on Facebook, director Mark Peskanov wrote, "The music sounded especially good tonight at Bargemusic after being shut down for the last two and half days." Further details to come.
Bargemusic, the floating concert hall moored on the Brooklyn side of the East River, abruptly shut down on Wednesday after an official with the Fire Department found problems with the hall’s emergency exit.
The order to close came after fire officials were called to the hall on Wednesday afternoon. They cited it for “failure to maintain a secondary means of egress at rear of the barge in proper working order,” said a Fire Department spokesman, Frank Dwyer.
The shutdown came just hours before a scheduled recital by the pianist Victoria Korchinskaya-Kogan. Thursday night’s concert featuring contemporary chamber music by the group Two Sense was also called off. Patrons were sent an e-mail stating the hall was shut for emergency repairs.
Mark Peskanov, the hall’s executive and artistic director, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. An employee who answered the phone said that a decision to go ahead with the weekend concerts, featuring the Weilerstein Trio, depended on whether the problem could be fixed in time, or at least a temporary solution could be found.
Bargemusic is leased from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which manages all city property. According to the lease, the hall is responsible for maintaining safety exits and procedures. The hall has two doors, a main one accessed by patrons arriving from Old Fulton Street and an emergency route that takes people onto the ship's bow.
“We are presently working with Bargemusic to determine an interim solution that will address the public safety concerns and allow them to reopen soon,” said Kyle Sklerov, spokesperson for the Corporation in a statement.
Bargemusic was founded in 1977 in a converted coffee barge at Fulton Ferry Landing. Last October it was moved to dry dock for a month of repairs. The hall has won praise from critics for its warm acoustics and unique ambiance.
In 2009, Bargemusic founder Olga Bloom told sister station WNYC about the venue's early days: