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Le Poisson Rouge: Celebrating A Decade Of Music With An Eye To The Future

New York LIfestyles | By Bailey Beckett

It’s been 10 years since owner David Handler opened Le Poisson Rouge, a Village nightclub that brings under-the-radar classical and jazz talents to the New York stage. And yet rather than bask in the memories, the musical impresario is looking onward. Handler announced this summer he’s stepping back from day-to-day management of the venue, which the New York Times called a “forward-thinking venue that seeks to showcase disparate music styles under one roof,” to concentrate on writing and performing music rather than booking it.

His first project will be a collaboration with Jónsi and Alex Somers, of the group Sigur Ros, where he is going to rework and write their 2009 album Riceboy Sleeps. Handler, who is also a classically trained violinist (he graduated from the Manhattan School of Music) is also simultaneously making a solo album of his own. The news of Handler’s new role has not gone unnoticed. Once called the “Ian Schrager of the music scene” by the New Yorker, he is synonymous with bringing an impeccable curation to the nightclub stage, having hosted talents as varied as Thom Yorke, Paul Simon, Yo-Yo Ma, Lady Gaga, Iggy Pop, Lorde, Beck and Philip Glass among many others. On the eve of his transition, Handler, who made Le Poisson Rouge the coolest place to listen to contemporary music, talks to New York Lifestyles about the decision and his plans for the future.

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Eugen Donhauser
Le Poisson Rouge’s Founder Is Stepping Away From the Club to Pursue Music

WWD | By Maxine Wally on July 5, 2019

David Handler is refocusing on his music. Up first, an international tour rewriting Jónsi and Alex Somers' 2009 album "Riceboy Sleeps" for the orchestra.

This is how Handler, a classically trained musician who started his career composing and then opened New York City music venue Le Poisson Rouge, has realized he must live his life. It’s a recent revelation, and one that’s led him to step away from performing the day-to-day tasks of the business side at LPR.

After 11 years overseeing the operations of its in-house orchestra, Ensemble LPR, Handler is leaving to focus on creating music.

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Eugen Donhauser
HANDLER WITH CARE: AN ENTREPRENEURIAL COMPOSER RETURNS TO FULL-TIME COMPOSING

The Clyde Fitch Report | July 25, 2019

“Stepping away” is not how David Handler, co-founder of Greenwich Village’s acclaimed music venue Le Poisson Rouge, characterizes his return to full-time composing.

He readily admits to remaining deeply involved in what everyone calls LPR.

He’s also quick to stress that he was a musician and composer of acoustic and electronic music long before the idea of creating a “disruptor venue” for music first came to mind. And he is reluctantly aware that, as a producer and venue owner, he has already claimed the mantle of innovator.

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Eugen Donhauser
Philip Glass and David Handler discuss Spirit of the Earth

In September 2019, our generation's most revered composer brings his collaboration with two indigenous Wixarika musicians to New York City's Le Poisson Rouge. Philip Glass sits down with composer and LPR co-founder David Handler to discuss how 'Spirit of the Earth' came to be and what attendees of the two sold-out shows can expect.

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Eugen Donhauser
JONSI & ALEX SOMERS ANNOUNCE ADDITIONAL 'RICEBOY SLEEPS' LIVE SHOWS

DIY |

The pair will now play four UK shows to help celebrate the album’s tenth anniversary.

Back in January, it was announced that Jónsi & Alex Somers planned to perform their collaborative 2009 album ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ live in London this summer. Now, the pair have announced three additional UK shows to help celebrate its tenth anniversary.

The album has only previously been played at a Manhattan show at St Paul the Apostle Church in 2010, and will now be played during five shows across the UK and France.

They’ll also be joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra who will be conducted by Rob Ames, after the show was arranged for orchestra by David Handler.

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Hannah Simard
JONSI AND ALEX SOMERS TO GIVE FIRST EVER EUROPEAN PERFORMANCE OF "RICEBOY SLEEPS".

NME | By Rhian Daly

The album has only been played live once before.

Jónsi and Alex Somers have announced details of the first ever European live performance of their album ‘Riceboy Sleeps’..

The ambient record was released in 2009 and featured a string quartet, the Icelandic band Amiina and the Kópavogsdætur Choir.

The duo will be joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra for the performance, which will take place at London’s Barbican Centre on July 8. Jónsi, Somers, and the LCO will be conducted by Rob Ames during the show, while the orchestra’s arrangement will be done by David Handler. Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday (February 1). 

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Hannah Simard
(Le) Poisson Rouge Celebrates 10th Anniversary With An Eye Toward the Future

Billboard | By Dan Ouellette

High-profile club venues in New York tend to come and go, with only a few stalwarts managing to hang on amidst rising rents, changing demographics and gentrification -- and often, those that do manage to stick around and build a following end up getting absorbed by larger live-music conglomerates who take over ownership, management or booking. On the other hand, there's Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, which has maintained a determinedly-independent, artsy flair since first opening its doors in 2008.

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Michael sharp
Review: A Wink Toward Tradition in a Modern Evening

The New York Times | By Steve Smith

Successful entrepreneurs know that there’s an art to naming a new venture. You need to get your point across quickly, clearly and with nuance. Beth Morrison and Paola Prestini, the impresarios behind 21c Liederabend, nailed this straightaway when they started the biennial performance series in 2009: “21c” proclaims modernity. “Liederabend,” a 19th-century German term meaning “song night,” labels the package neatly, while hinting at Romantic notions of intimacy and literary depth.

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David Team
Review: To Boldly Go Beyond the Limits of Sacred Music

The New York Times | By Steve Smith

Spirituality is in the eye of the beholder and, perhaps as important, in the ear: a truism embraced by the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center. But whereas many of the events included in the series have featured performances of explicitly sacred works, “Credo,” a concert presented at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle near Lincoln Center on Monday night, stood as a bold departure. At the heart of this event were new compositions by members of Sigur Ros, an Icelandic alternative-rock band not known for espousing any particular creed.

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David Team
Joonbug Interview: David Handler, Founder of (Le) Poisson Rouge

Joonbug.com | By Josh Gordon

Joonbug met up with David Handler, one of the founders of Le Poisson Rouge, to discuss how the West Village hot spot continues to be the shuffle button for the music lover, party goer and art aficionado. While sitting on a fish throne David spoke about how a group of classical musicians wanted a new outlet for young people to get down with class, culture and alcohol.

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David Team
Close Listening: Classical music in a jazz-club space

The New Yorker | By Alex Ross

In November, the National Endowment for the Arts released the latest installment of its Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which has been appearing every five years since 1982. Most people might be unable to imagine a duller document, but for those working in the arts—not least those working in classical music—it was as unputdownable as anything by Stephen King. The survey, whose results have been further refined in a report by the League of American Orchestras, indicates that the number of people who venture out to classical performances in a given year has been declining for almost three decades, and that such people are getting steadily older. Further, each new generation participates less than the one that came before it, and every generation—from Kurt Cobain’s X to Tom Brokaw’s Greatest—gives less of a hoot than it did when the previous survey was made, in 2002.

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David Team
Feeding Those Young and Curious Listeners

The New York Times | By Anthony Tommasini

Le Poisson Rouge, the coolest place to hear contemporary music in New York, did little to celebrate its first anniversary on Sunday night. A renovated Bleecker Street club, formerly the Village Gate, it presented a typically adventurous program. Alarm Will Sound, the brilliant 20-member contemporary-music ensemble, conducted by Alan Pierson, played five polystylistic pieces by the audaciously eclectic composer Derek Bermel, who draws from firsthand exposure to indigenous music of West Africa and elsewhere.

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David Team
The Music Is Classical, and the Bar Is Busy

The New York Times | By Anthony Tommasini

In some ways, it was a familiar New York scene: a crowd of people, mostly young, seated at tables in a no-frills, black-walled Greenwich Village music club on Wednesday night, sipping drinks and listening to a group playing its first set.

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David Team
Chaser of Beer, Rock or Bebop With Your Bach?

The New York Times | By Allen Kozinn

You might not expect to find a polished young ensemble like the Parker String Quartet playing music by Beethoven, Bartok and Ligeti — or collaborating with ensembles like Las Rubias del Norte, which specializes in Latin American folk music — in the no-frills back room of a Brooklyn bar. But the group spent this season as the resident quartet at Barbès, a Park Slope bar that regularly presents classical performers in a schedule otherwise devoted to jazz, pop and world music.

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David Team