Dangling crane forces New York's Carnegie Hall to cancel shows

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NEW YORK -- The crane boom dangling over West 57th Street like a broken violin bow, a result of Sandy, has paralyzed life at Carnegie Hall, one of the world's most precious concert spaces almost directly across the street.

The hall canceled all concerts Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday's performance by the Orchestra of St. Luke's was rescheduled to June 1. A performance by pianist Wael Farouk at Weill Recital Hall was also moved from Thursday to June 1. The city has cordoned off streets surrounding the hall and cut off utilities to the area for safety reasons, making it impossible for anyone to enter.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said West 57th Street would "not be fully reopened until sometime this weekend at the earliest."

As the work proceeds, the official said, the cordoned-off zone will shrink, with West 57th Street being the last section to open.

The closing comes at a critical time for Carnegie, which is in the heart of its season. In the coming days scheduled performers include pianist Murray Perahia, with a solo recital; the King's Singers; the Belcea Quartet; the Oratorio Society of New York; the Emerson String Quartet with pianist Yefim Bronfman; and violinist Midori. This week's cancellations included pianist Lang Lang and other prominent soloists in a benefit concert and the Mariinsky Orchestra from St. Petersburg under conductor Valery Gergiev.

While the city and engineers come up with a scheme to secure and remove the boom, concert life at the hall remained in suspended animation. Carnegie officials said they were making decisions about canceling or postponing concerts one day at a time.

Clive Gillinson, the hall's executive and artistic director, said he could only wait to be informed by city officials.

"Until somebody tells us a timeline, we can't do anything except to work on a daily basis," he said. "There is no plan at the moment."

Mr. Gillinson said it was too early to determine the financial impact of the cancellations on the hall. While it stands to lose ticket and rental income, it will also be spared expenses and the fees it pays to performers presented by Carnegie.

There appeared to be no imminent danger to the 121-year-old hall, which includes two other smaller auditoriums, Zankel Hall and Weill. Mayor Bloomberg said Tuesday that the Buildings Department had declared the crane to be stable.

The crane was being used to build an apartment tower at 157 W. 57th St., which will be 73 stories tall, according to city records, although it is being marketed as a 90-story building.

Mayor Bloomberg has said that the strategy would be to strap the loosened boom to the building, known as One57, and then remove it using a second crane to be built on the tower's roof. Once the boom is secured, the streets could be opened, he said. There would be sporadic closings during the damaged crane's removal, he said Wednesday.



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