The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, and contemporary music college, Berklee, have announced that Berklee will set up home in the city’s historic Avatar Studios.
Formerly known as The Power Station, the world-renowned facility – where artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Madonna, Pat Metheny and Bob Dylan recorded iconic albums – was in danger of shutting down. Now, with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Berklee will renovate the 53rd Street facility, transforming it into BerkleeNYC, which, as well as being a state-of-the-art recording and video production facility for the city’s music, theatre, television and film industries, will host both free and tuition-based education programmes, performances and resources for local musicians.
The project has been spearheaded by Berklee Trustee, Pete Muller, a singer-songwriter who started out busking in the New York City subways, recently played at Montreux Jazz Festival and is a pioneer of quantitative investing.
Berklee plans to continue operating the studio commercially as Power Station at BerkleeNYC, restoring the name established by original owner, Tony Bongiovi. Preserving and modernising the facility – the last recording studio in New York able to accommodate a full orchestra or live Broadway cast album recording – will ensure that top artists can continue to record in New York and allow Berklee to expand its vision of nurturing musicians while engaging in meaningful community outreach.
In addition to the studio renovation, the building’s lower level will be converted into a flexible-use practice/performance venue, including an affordable rehearsal space featuring a professional-size stage and state-of-the-art sound, lighting and video technology. It will also include a video control room to capture and post-produce video from all over the building, a virtual reality/augmented reality studio and flexible spaces for ensemble practice rooms and classrooms.
Mayor de Blasio said:
‘Renovating this amazing, historic music venue is a powerful nod to New York City as a continuing centre for innovative art, culture and creativity. I commend Berklee and Trustee, Pete Muller, for their investments, their vision and for the public programming space that will benefit many budding and future New York recording artists.’
Berklee President, Roger H Brown, said:
‘The Power Station is an iconic, creative hub of music. So many influential recordings have been made there and it puts us at the nexus of the vital music, theatre and dance communities of New York City. We intend both to reimagine the recording studio of the future and add a powerful educational programme to support our many Berklee alumni who intend to live, work and create in New York.’
Pete Muller said:
‘The Power Station is one of the world’s most iconic recording studios. Preserving it honours New York City’s music scene and all the great artists who have recorded there. To know that we are saving a studio that has hosted so many legends is awe-inspiring. I am honoured to be part of such an important project.’
Former owner, Tony Bongiovi, said:
‘I am thrilled that the Power Station name is returning to the original studios in New York City.’
Header photo: Berklee will set up home in New York’s historic Avatar Studios