Music bigwigs and upstarts alike perform at the charming little hall around the corner from Lincoln Center.. Sounds Old and New Since its opening in 1978, the 451-seat Merkin Hall has developed a reputation for innovative programming in an intimate setting. As one of the city's premier venues for small ensembles, the hall's regulars include the New York Philharmonic ensembles and New York Philomusika. But there is also a trove of musical gems to discover among the lesser-known, up-and-coming groups that play here, in genres ranging from string quartets to bebop to Klezmer.
Small-Scale Charm Every seat in the house offers a close view, and in between pieces musicians can chat with the audience without the aid of microphones. The space has the atmosphere of a sun-lit room, with its white walls, a stage bare of velvet curtains, and wooden acoustical panels slanting down from the ceiling. The minimalist decor, far from stark, deepens the intimacy by focusing attention entirely on the performers, rather than the surroundings.