The Stone Announces a New Home, in Partnership with The New School

Mar 1, 2017

Richard Kessler and John Zorn in the Glass Box Theater
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

The Stone, an internationally prominent performance space for avant-garde and experimental music in New York City, has secured a new home. John Zorn, its founder and artistic director, announced on Wednesday that after a scheduled farewell to its original location in the East Village, it will be revived in March 2018 as The Stone at the New School, inhabiting the Glass Box Theater at 55 West 13th Street in Manhattan.

“This move makes sense on a lot of levels,” said Zorn, the eminent composer, bandleader and saxophonist who established The Stone in 2005. “I really feel that kind of click you get when something really is happening — either when you’re performing music, or when you’re writing, or in a creative mode. When something kind of comes together in a really special way.”

Zorn spoke on Wednesday afternoon in the office of Richard Kessler, the New School’s Executive Dean for Performing Arts, and Dean of the Mannes School of Music. Both men described the new arrangement as transformative.

John Zorn at the Stone, 2008
Credit Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

“It was fun and exciting to play on a dirty corner in the East Village,” Zorn said. “Now I think this music really deserves to be seen in a different way.” Careful to note that The Stone had not been squeezed out by rising rents or zoning issues, as has been the case with Tonic and some other New York venues, Zorn described his decision as a matter of outgrowing the present circumstances, and also expanding the possibilities for audience engagement. 

“With the landscape that we now have politically, economically, socially, culturally — I think ‘outreach’ is a good word,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to take something that’s really edgy, really honest, really imaginative, really creative, and take it out of some dark little marginalized corner space and into a place where people are going to see it. People that never even knew something like that existed are going to be exposed to it. We’re one block from a major subway. We’re really in the middle of the Village now. And we’re at an institution that’s been around for a hundred years, that has garnered great respect.”

The Stone at the New School, as it’s being called, will present music five nights a week, in accordance with the artist-as-curator model that Zorn made a trademark. (Sunday and Monday will be dark.) The venue will operate rent-free, sharing operating and administrative expenses with the New School, which has collaborated for the last five years on a series of workshops featuring artists in residence at the Stone.

As for the room itself, the Glass Box Theater is an aptly named space just off the lobby of Arnhold Hall, the New School’s performing arts hub, with one street-facing glass wall and another one that faces the interior lobby. (It’s familiar to some New York jazz fans as a space in regular use during the last two editions of the NYC Winter Jazzfest.)

The Glass Box Theater at the New School
Credit Ang Santos

Fortuitously, it has the same seating capacity of 74 people, and a similar size. But in contrast to the no-frills space that The Stone now occupies — a former Chinese restaurant at the corner of Avenue C and East Second Street — the Glass Box is clean, modern and climate-controlled. 

The arrangement has been embraced wholeheartedly by the New School administration, as both a new development and a restatement of institutional values. “The history of the New School in the performing arts really starts with, in many cases, the most experimental artists of the time,” Kessler said. “I don’t think that we have always kept pace with that. This allows us to reconnect that history — people like Henry Cowell, John Cage — and make it come alive today, with these artists that John brings to us. So I see this as an enormous win for us, in broadening the outlook for the students, the education of the students, the people that the students will engage with.”

He added that the new arrangement was sure to lead to more opportunities. “We’re going to grow this thing together,” he said. “We’re committed to that. We’re really excited about it.”

The Stone, in its current iteration on Avenue C, will close next February. The Stone at the New School will open on March 1, 2018 – but in the meantime, as a warmup, it will feature shows each weekend beginning this June. Zorn, who called on his creative peer group to populate that series, said he wanted to program “a really killer lineup to put the place on the map, in a sense.” 

The schedule of performances is below. For more information, visit The Stone’s website.

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL

WEEKEND RESIDENCIES JUNE 2017—FEBRUARY 2018

2017

JUNE 2-3                     IMPROV BENEFITS

JUNE 9-10                   MARK FELDMAN-SYLVIE COURVOISIER

JUNE 16-17                 BRANDON ROSS

JUNE 23-24                 WADADA LEO SMITH

JUNE 30-JULY 1          DAVE DOUGLAS 

JULY 7-8                      BILL LASWELL

JULY 14-15                  STEVE COLEMAN

JULY 21-22                  TRIGGER

JULY 28-29                  KEN VANDERMARK

AUGUST 4-5               JOHN MEDESKI MATT HOLLENBERG KENNY GROHOWSKI-SIMULACRUM

AUGUST 11-12           KRIS DAVIS

AUGUST 18-19           SYLVIE COURVOISIER

AUGUST 25-26           URI GURVICH

SEPT 1-2                      IMPROV BENEFITS

SEPT 8-9                      STEVEN BERNSTEIN

SEPT 15-16                  URI CAINE

SEPT 22-23                  NED ROTHENBERG

SEPT 29-30                  MARY HALVORSON

OCT 6-7                       CYRO BAPTISTA

OCT 13-14                   JOE LOVANO

OCT 20-21                   ERIK FRIEDLANDER

OCT 27-28                   JEN SHYU

NOV 3-4                      NICOLE MITCHELL

NOV 10-11                 JIM BLACK

NOV 17-18                  JENNIFER CHOI

NOV 24-25                  CLOSED

DEC 1-2                       LAURIE ANDERSON

DEC 8- 9                      PETER EVANS

DEC 15-16                   IKUE MORI

DEC 22-23                   CLOSED

DEC 29-30                   CLOSED

2018

JAN 5- 6                      DAN WEISS

JAN 12-13                   OKKYUNG LEE

JAN 19-20                   JON IRABAGON

JAN 26-27                   RYUICHI SAKAMOTO

FEB 2-3                       LINDA MAY HAN OH

FEB 9-10                     CRAIG TABORN

FEB 16-17                   MARC RIBOT, TREVOR DUNN, TYSHAWN SOREY – ASMODEUS