Plaza Hotel Takes Visitors On a Musical Journey

By Marissa Brostoff

Published April 24, 2008, issue of May 02, 2008.
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Hotel lounge music isn’t usually a genre associated with experimental compositions, but a collaboration between composer Ariel Blumenthal and the Plaza Hotel in New York might change that.

The newly reopened Plaza, which now houses apartments in addition to hotel rooms, is outfitted with a complex — and very expensive — sound system that has more in common with the systems at theme parks and stadiums than with those found at most hotels. To show off its new feature, the Plaza commissioned Blumenthal to compose music specifically for the unique configuration of speakers throughout the building’s ground floor.

“The music is embedded in the architecture, in the walls,” said Blumenthal, 34, who was born in Israel and now works in Los Angeles as a composer of concert and film music. “What it means is, when you listen to this mix, you feel that the house is alive.” The effect, Blumenthal noted, is closer to the experience of being at a live concert than to listening to a CD or sound recording.

Blumenthal wrote what he described as “Sinatra-style music,” which will be played in the lobby every afternoon, and an electronica mix that will be heard in the Plaza’s bar every night. Each composition is about an hour long, and the overall sound of the same music changes when heard from different parts of the hotel.

“It sounds much bigger in the lobby, more intimate in the more intimate spaces,” Blumenthal said. “It gives the guest the experience of a voyage.”

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