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November 1, 2012 | By Wynne Delacoma

Ronen Givony
Music Director, Le Poisson Rouge

Ronen Givony, music director of Le Poisson Rouge, the vibrant, genre-crossing club in downtown Manhattan, has a very simple programming philosophy. “You get to book the sort of music you would want to see.”

For the 33-year-old Givony, who calls himself “an extreme music nerd,” that would be just about anything from Bach or the string quartets of Xenakis to the latest indie-rock band. Since opening in September 2008, Le Poisson Rouge has proven that chamber music, be it Beethoven or Ligeti, can find a home in a more relaxed, cabaret setting as well as a traditional concert hall.

Givony’s path to Le Poisson Rouge, founded by Justin Kantor and David Handler, began six years ago when he was writing grant proposals for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Givony isn’t a musician (his college major was literature), but he was interested in music of all kinds. Going out to hear bands six nights a week, reading music blogs, listening to anything that caught his ear, Givony decided to put on his own shows. In 2007 he launched “Wordless Music” in a church on the Upper West Side. That series is still thriving in venues all over New York City.

Le Poisson Rouge’s approach to programming is as innovative as its content. Despite Givony’s grant-writing background, the club is resolutely for profit rather than a 501(c) 3, nonprofit enterprise.

About 90 percent of the shows are booked two or three months in advance, making it possible to jump on a hot group, composer, or performer before interest cools. There’s no formula for keeping an even balance among genres. “It’s not about on Monday there’s a classical person, on Tuesday there’s a jazz person,” said Givony. “Every single night we have the best possible show that we could book, one that we ourselves would want to see and bring our friends to. It’s not very complicated.”

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