I caught the Hanneke Cassel performance this past Saturday as the Rockport Performance Center tuned the new hall.
Imagine this nice performance but instead of the muddled acoustics of Passims you have the absolute clarity of a finely tuned musical instrument which is what the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport is today.
Agent 99 over on Cape Anne online said it best:
I’m so in awe of this beautiful new venue. What an incredible treasure to the town. We also had the good fortune to catch Cassel’s performance at 6 and loved every second. She’s got that wonderful blend of raw talent and charisma. We will definitely look for her again. The size of the room just makes it feel all the more intimate. The sound is perfect. A person on stage can whisper with no microphone and someone in the last seat of the mezzanine can hear it perfectly. The design is beyond beautiful. They’ve used slate in an undulating pattern on the walls to create one of the acoustic elements but is visually stunning as well. On stage what looks like an undulating wall of stone actually slides open hiding a glorious grand piano that can glide on and off stage with the touch of a finger. Verklempt!
Shalin Liu: How do you pronounce it? Hanneke asked this question between sets and the answer was that I have been mispronouncing it. The answer is British footwear in a bathroom. That’s right, “Shoe in loo”. Sorry about that but you will now never mispronounce it again but you will never forgot my dumb mnemonic. What really blew me away is how enormous the space is when compared to the lot size they shoe horned this building into. Truly an architectural feat. (Oh wait, shoe horned in, small space, feat, I feel a bad pun attack … )
OK, so this is me being a jackass right before the start of the concert. You can see how the side doors open to get the piano, or chairs. You can also see the weaved shutter which covers the huge window backstage.
They were so good we bought two CDs and Hanneke autographed them for my daughter. I had to drive my son up to Vermont back to college and fiddle music was a pleasant way to enjoy the drive through the Berkshires.