Last year, longtime local radio station WNYC moved from its longtime digs near City Hall to a new space on Varick Street, just east of SoHo. Following the fishbowl model of the cable TV and morning news shows in midtown, they included a street-level studio so that passers-by could gawk at the proceedings within. But, instead of whitecapped newscasters blathering on about credit swaps or the latest in gourmet cupcakes, WNYC's Greene Space offers political debates and conversations with visual and performance artists.
They also occasionally feature live performances, as they did this past Monday when Nadia Sirota, violist, new music specialist, and online host of Q2's midday programming, hosted a concert devoted to the works of contemporary Chinese composer Chou-Wen Chung. The space was small but cozy, with seats arranged in rows before a well-lit stage and a bar which offered free wine after the concert.
In conversation with Nadia, the elderly Chung spoke eloquently of the impact the Qin – the ancient seven-string Chinese zither - had on him when he was a child. Stephen Dydo helped to illustrate his point with a performance of "Flowing Streams": a traditional piece for Qin that Chung selected to be included on the Golden Record sent out with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.
The main event of the evening was a performance of Chung's "Clouds", performed by the Brentano String Quartet, which commissioned the work in 1996. Chung said this was the first time he'd been asked to write a string quartet, and the resulting 30 minute work was both challenging and accessible, energized by the Brentano's markedly emotional of style performance.
The next event to be held at the Greene Space will be a live broadcast of John Schaefer's Soundcheck on 9/28, featuring a conversation with David Byrne and Phil Collins as well as a live performance by Angelique Kidjo. Tickets are $15 if you want to check it out in person - or just tune in online or on your radio.