Francesca and I have been gleeful ever since we visited Miami Beach's recently completed New World Center. The $160 million edifice, designed by architect Frank Gehry, does amaze.
It is primarily a teaching facility, the "orchestral academy" for Michael Tilson Thomas's New World Symphony. It is where wunderkinds in their mid-20's hone their chops. Unlike Gehry's Getty Museum (Bilbao, Spain) or the Disney Music Hall in L.A., Gehry has put most of his swirling, off-balances designs inside of the squared-off structure.
The building includes an intimate, 300-seat symphony hall that we visited twice last week. We enjoyed the orchestra's final seasonal performance and a Seraphic Fire concert. Sitting in both the cheap seats and down front, we are convinced that every seat is a good one.
Anyone can enjoy this place. Some performances cost as little as five bucks and sitting outside is free. That's where many of the nighttime concerts are beamed onto a huge 7000 sq. ft. "screen", the east wall of the concert hall.
You sit on lush grass surrounded by hidden high-tech speakers. These live "wallcasts" are wonderful, we've been to two of them. We met one couple that that had turned down tickets to sit outside with us on blankets with their picnic dinner. One evening I noticed Thomas, the symphony's director, outside as well. He seemed to be enjoying the wallcast before he ducked back insie for the real thing.
How did we lure the famed architect to South Florida? A recent New Yorker article gave us a clue. It noted that when he was growing up in Santa Monica, California, Gehry would sometimes serve as Michael Tilson Thomas' babysitter.
Free movies are featured on the green as well. Next Wednesday they'll show "The Sound of Music and on June 1, "Fantasia". All films begin at 8 p.m. Bring a pillow as most folks end up laying down to watch the elevated screen.
LET'S HOPE HAROLD GETS IT WRONG
California minister Harold Camping has gotten a lot of publicity this week by predicting that the world will end at today ( 6 p.m. local time -wherever you happen to live- the mega-deaths will come in waves he says).
Its a beautiful day in Miami and if The Rapture comes three hours from now, The Grove Guy wishes you a quick and safe trip to the Great Beyond.
If the world does not end today consider coming to Coconut Grove next week. On Sunday, May 29, you can enjoy this season's final performance of The Grove-based Alhambra Orchestra. "Piano Pyrotechics" will feature soloist Mia Vassilev at the Steinway. The free concert will take place in the Ransom Everglades auditorium at 7 pm ( a block aouth of the CG Playhouse). There will be no wallcast in the Ransom parking lot. You must sit inside.