Outrage at B&N Demise

by Sedgwick Clark

A number of people commented to me on my report last week on the imminent demise of the Lincoln Center branch of Barnes & Noble: from Harmonia Mundi’s René Goiffon (“How things have changed since we first met!”) to composer and record company owner David Chesky (“Apple is going to put everyone out of biz!”).

CDs were still on the horizon when René and I met.

The Apple store, with its appealing, wide-open, two-story glass façade, gets more traffic than any store in the Lincoln Center area except perhaps the largest grocery store. The building’s previous tenant, Victoria’s Secret, literally had no business being in this neighborhood, but even it had more traffic than Tower’s or B&N’s classical-record departments in their declining months—both of which joined the hapless HMV store at 72nd and Broadway in redefining the word “empty.”

A friend who lives upstairs from B&N told me that apartment owners were aghast to learn that B&N’s successor will be Century 21 clothing store. They did all they could to stop it, but to no avail. I’d like to rail at greedy landlords, but it’s our way of life that they can quadruple rents as long as people continue paying them.

So an appropriate pair of superstores for Lincoln Center attendees and Juilliard School students—a record store and a bookstore—will have been replaced by cheapo furniture (Raymour and Flanigan) and threadbare clothing. Such stores have come and gone almost as quickly as restaurants over the years. Aunt Fish was the nadir, garnering perhaps the most LOL restaurant review (from Mimi Sheraton in the Times) ever written. And just this summer, the affordable O’Neal’s and Peter’s gave up the ghost after many years of comfortable surroundings and sometimes barely edible dishes.

Time marches on.

What is Contemporary Music?

In the following piece from yesterday’s Musicalamerica.com, the canard about pop music being “contemporary” music is perpetuated. I’m sure my friend Roger Wright didn’t mean to insult the many “classical” contemporary composers whose works received their premieres at this summer’s Proms concerts.

BBC Proms Breaks Attendance Records
Attendance at this summer’s BBC Proms concerts, which opened July 16, has broken all records. Halls this year averaged at 92 per cent full compared with 87 per cent in 2009.

Among the sell-out performances were programs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim’s 80th birthday celebration, Plácido Domingo in “Simon Boccanegra” and Bryn Terfel in “Meistersinger.”

“The incredible attendance figures are a testament to the spirit of the Proms audience, and their eagerness to embrace both core classical music and the more contemporary performances,” said Roger Wright in his comments. Wright is the director of BBC Proms and controller of BBC Radio 3.

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