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Number 42 Former US president Bill Clinton—and a skilled saxophonist himself—talked at Carnegie Hall about the importance of musical education.

Music’s universal significance

Carnegie Hall celebrated its 120th anniversary with a star-studded line-up, ranging from James Taylor to former US president Bill Clinton. Lola Saab was there


VICTOR HUGO, a famous French poet, novelist, playwright and essayist of the nineteenth century once said, ‘Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.’
   The world renowned Carnegie Hall is a concert venue that embraces a range of spectacular music from all genres, reuniting various musicians, singers and entertainers as they express their inner emotions. The stunning venue was originally entitled the Music Hall; however, in 1893, the name changed to Carnegie Hall, in honour of Andrew Carnegie. It has become a world-renowned place, minutes away from Broadway’s steamy lights and only a thought away from music lovers’ hearts.
   Carnegie Hall opened its doors on May 5, 1891; 120 years later, harmonious melodies and tunes still live within the prestigious venue’s walls and high ceilings. Carnegie Hall’s three stages have filled a number of people with absolute musical splendour.
   As this year marks the 120th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, it also marks an eventful year of celebration. Carnegie Hall is truly a remarkable venue where many aspiring young musicians yearn to be.
   On April 12, 2011, a month before the Hall’s official anniversary, James Taylor, whose first appearance at the Hall was in 1971, joined a number of other guests to celebrate the birth of a wonderful place in the Isaac Stern Auditorium on the Perelman Stage. The star-studded evening was filled with song, laughter, joy and fun, spreading a range of emotions amongst more than 600 audience members. The concert recollected on certain previous performances that had, one time or another, taken over the historically remarkable hall.
   As well as celebrating the 120th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, the concert was a benefit for Carnegie Hall’s Weil Music Institute, an artistic and educational programme.
   ‘Tonight, we celebrate 120 years of Carnegie Hall. When we think of Carnegie Hall, we usually think of classical music. But all kinds of people have performed on this stage … Carnegie has always brought the world of music to this stage. And tonight, that tradition continues,’ said Taylor as he presented the evening.
   Taylor opened the performance with Irving Berlin’s ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’. During the concert, various images were projected on the back wall, a certain element that provoked an artistically visual effect. As Taylor’s first song came to an end, an image of Carnegie Hall’s main entrance appeared, reminding the audience of one of the many features they were gathered together to celebrate.
   Steve Martin, not only a comedian, but also an actor, author, producer and playwright, shared his musical talent as his fast moving fingers played the banjo.
   Bette Midler, an actress and also a woman with an expressively moving voice, added a spark of drama, a lot of energy and liveliness to the songs she spectacularly sung.
   Barbara Cook, who landed in numerous Broadway productions, gave the audience a taste of her ability to make the room a show of its own as her voice wonderfully created a scene in itself. She is recognized for her vocal ability and strong emotional interpretations which she admirably conveyed on stage.
   Without a microphone, Dianne Reeves, a jazz vocalist, exposed and revealed her strong and amazingly powerful voice. The audience was captivated and greatly enthused by the power of her voice.
   Composer, singer, author, activist and actor, Sting, performed his first song of the night ‘Penny Lane’ by the Beatles. Before leaving the stage he was joined by Taylor, Martin and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus to sing ‘How Sweet It Is’. The Young People’s Chorus of New York accompanied them as they sang, ‘Shower the People’.
   Actor and comedian, Kevin Pollak, was also one of the artists of the evening who performed an act by comedian Lenny Bruce. The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, also made his way on stage to tell people about the value and importance of musical education.
   As the evening was coming to a close, Taylor, alongside his wife, Caroline, performed ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’.
   Taylor sang one of Judy Garland’s hits, ‘Over the Rainbow’, which drew the hour and forty-five minute performance to an end.
   It was a night awaited for by many, and it will be one that shall be remembered by all. Carnegie Hall has come to represent the art and beauty that music outstandingly generates. •


Caroline and James Taylor

Kevin Pollak and Steve Martin


Barbara Hall


Lola Saab is Paris editor of Lucire.

Steve Martin and James Taylor perform.


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