It was a very interesting night last night. The Park Avenue Armory has been transformed very quickly from a curious anachronism to a vibrant multi-purpose space for art, events, and apparently some honest to goodness social welfare.
I had seen photos of the drill hall, but I had never actually set foot in the building. Upon entering the front door you are confronted with dark wood grand staircases and estate rooms. I didn't know it was a men's club and so this sort of sophisticated space was a shocker.
More shocked still was I when entering the Drill Hall, when I encountered this giant space that was swanked out beyond belief with total darkness with tasteful dramatic lighting. Beautiful and glamerous people in this wonderful space. This was New York society one sees in movies.There was cocktail hour in the front end of the space, and way in the distace we could see dinner tables lit up, seemingly hundreds of meters away.
The evening was to not only raise money for the Armory, but to bring attention to it by celebrating an everexpanding roster of people who are doing work at the venue. The famous architects Herzog & de Meuron, who will be doing the renovation/restoration of the building were honored first in between delicious courses. Somewhat oddly, two pieces by Nico Muhly were performed before Glass' introduction. Muhly himself wasn't there, though he was originally slated to introduce Glass. Stepping in was Hal Wilner, a New York personality who got some laughs, especially from the downtown crowd.
Glass eventually took the stage, to say a few things before playing the piano including that he used to play in a marching band, and that he was thrilled to be in the space where the band of the Seventh Regiment used to practice. Glass played two metamorphoses which were actually quite well executed which the crowd really enjoyed.
As a gift, Armory Vice Chairman Elihu Rose said that he was happy Glass mentioned the marching band, because John Philip Sousa himself had written a march for the Seventh Regiment called "The Gallant Seventh" and presented Glass some 1923 sheet music from the Armory's archive which Glass enthusiastically snatched from Rose's hands. Smiles abounded.