Can an architect save classical music? That seems to be what Michael Tilson Thomas, the artistic director of the New World Symphony, was counting on when he hired Frank Gehry to design him a new music center.
Like others running classical music institutions today, Mr. Thomas is struggling to connect to a younger audience. The 81-year-old Mr. Gehry, who used to baby-sit for Mr. Thomas, 66, when both were living in Los Angeles, built his reputation as an architect with a knack for tapping into the popular imagination.
Together they have created a building, opening here on Tuesday, that spills over with populist ideas, sometimes to the point of distraction. Enclosed inside a simple stucco box, its raucous interior forms — a pileup of rehearsal studios joined to a 756-seat hall — are part of an effort to break down the emotional distance between performers and the public, and in doing so to pump new life into an art form that is often perceived as stuffy and old-fashioned.
New York Times