For 17 days this November, New Yorkers have a unique opportunity to enjoy the excitement and vitality of the contemporary culture scene in Berlin without leaving town. Carnegie Hall, in conjunction with several fine institutional partners, presents, for a limited time, "Berlin in Lights", a snapshot of the best Berlin has to offer in the realms of music, film, art, architecture, and dance.
Many people think that Paris was the center of avant garde expression in the period between the World Wars. While Paris was a major force on the artistic scene, think Josephine Baker, Marcel Duchamp, Coco Chanel, Sara and Gerald Murphy and the rest of the ex-pat community, it was really Weimar Berlin that set the bar for truly over-the-top creativity and decadence. The city, probably in a reaction to the horrors of The Great War, became without a doubt the epicenter of the avant garde. It was a no holds barred environment in art (think Dada), music, cinema, theater, cabaret and lifestyle. Sadly, by 1933, the Germans had in effect turned on themselves and the very genius' that had created this progressive environment were persecuted, exiled and killed. Fortunately with the re-unification of Germany in 1989, the past glory of this amazing capitol city has been brought back to life and from now until November 18th, we can experience the very best of its past and its present right here on this side of the Atlantic.
Last evening was the opening night of this international festival, and I had two tickets for Max Raabe & Palast Orchester at Carnegie Hall. What a fabulous show! Max Raabe, the extremely polished singer and leader of the orchestra, has devoted his life to reincarnating the best of Berlin tea dances and other musical entertainment of the 1920's and '30's. The moment he walks on the stage wearing an impeccable tuxedo and slick backed hair, the audience is hooked. The 12 piece orchestra with the big band sound is perfect. Max Raabe is totally in character. Singing in both English and German, Max Raabe interprets musical gems by composers from Cole Porter to Kurt Weill. We are transported through song to a totally different age. No one wanted the evening to end.
While the Max Raabe concert may be over, there are still many more events to enjoy. Check out the schedule and see if there isn't a little bit of Berlin in your future!