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“Free For All at Town Hall” is a production of Twin Lions, Inc., a non-profit concert production company founded by Omus Hirshbein and Jacqueline Taylor. Our goal is to present great musicians in concerts that are free to the public in spaces that are good for both the music and the audience.
The inspiration for our venture came from Jacqueline’s experience directing a project at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. It was called Beethoven 2000. To celebrate the Year 2000 the Chamber Music Society presented the Orion String Quartet performing all of Beethoven’s string quartets in six concerts. As a gift to the City of New York the concerts were free. “People thought I was crazy. After all, it is relatively easy to sell the Beethoven String Quartets at Lincoln Center in New York City, so why give them away?” The answer came when the public arrived to pick up their tickets. We gave away 4,000 tickets in under two hours. The line at Alice Tully Hall stretched from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue. Writing in the New York Times, Anthony Tommassini described it:
Before every concert a line of people hoping to get in snaked around the block on Broadway. They were of all ages, races and dress codes, exactly the target audience classical music organizations everywhere are trying to attract….
The experience had a profound impact. Jacqueline could not stop dreaming about starting a non-profit organization devoted exclusively to presenting free concerts-not outdoors, but in places where the music can really be heard. Omus signed on to the dream immediately: “When Jacqueline described it to me, I thought it was an idea whose time had come.”
We chose to begin in New York’s amazing Town Hall – a McKim, Mead and White building completed in 1921 – for several reasons. One, because we believe it’s one of New York City’s finest acoustical spaces; second, the size of the hall (1,500 seats) would allow us to have large audiences. But perhaps most important is Town Hall’s history. For a long time it was the place for an important young musician to make their New York debut. The list of people who have performed there is staggering. Marian Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Igor Stravinsky are just a few.
We simply want to make more of what is truly great in music available to everyone. For us, presenting free concerts is a dream come true.
Twin Lions, Inc. is deeply grateful to its founding patron, Patti Cadby Birch, who helped make Free For All At Town Hall possible.
Free For All draws an enthusiastic crowd.
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