Through the simple device of moving performances out of the Grace Rainey Rodgers Auditorium and into the gallery spaces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, concerts and lectures director Limor Tomer has made the museum into one of the most interesting venues in New York City. The galleries are usually brighter and more resonant than the concert hall, and the ambiance is certainly more beautiful and stimulating.
While playing classical music in a museum may at first seem redundant, and not in a way that benefits the music, the combination of music and art sheds new and welcome light on both. The best such event is the Met’s “The Grand Tour” concerts, which began last year. Grand Tour concerts happen in four different European Paintings rooms, and the audience is divided and rotates through these in sequence. The music, all from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, comes form the same time, place and cultural millieu that matches the galleries’ paintings.
This season’s Grand Tour, which runs this Wednesday and Thursday, features the ensemble Ciaramella playing in the El Greco In New York exhibition gallery. The other performing groups will cover music from the British Isles played on the Baroque triple harp; Dutch songs and dances that pair recorders, shawms, bagpipes and lutes with paintings from Bruegel, Vermeer, and Rembrandt; and vocal music composed under the Alfonos II, Duke of Ferrara, sung in the 17th-century Italian galleries. Last year’s Grand Tour was uniquely enjoyable—there’s something special about listening to early Dutch music while a Rembrandt self-portrait stares at the audience—expect nothing less this year.
“The Grand Tour” takes place 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. metmuseum.org