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If This Hall Could Talk
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If This Hall Could Talk

Author: WQXR, Carnegie Hall

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If This Hall Could Talk is a new podcast series created by Carnegie Hall in collaboration with WQXR and Sound Made Public. Across eight episodes hosted by Broadway star Jessica Vosk, the series takes listeners behind the scenes for a look at the unforgettable performances, fascinating figures, and shaping of American culture as witnessed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

For more than 130 years, Carnegie Hall has been the destination for top musical talents, entertainers, speakers, activists, and distinguished leaders from around the world. Each episode of If This Hall Could Talk focuses on a unique object selected from Carnegie Hall’s Rose Archives—including Judy Garland’s signed 1961 album recorded live at Carnegie Hall, Benny Goodman’s clarinet, Ella Fitzgerald’s glasses, a Women’s Suffrage Party Convention booklet, and a T-shirt made solely for the ushers to wear at rock and popular music concerts by such acts as The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, and Chicago. These artifacts illuminate the Hall’s rich (and sometimes quirky) history, while also serving as a fascinating framing device for stories of broader musical, cultural, and political significance.

Alongside host Jessica Vosk, each episode features voices that range from marquee musical talents to historical experts—including members of Carnegie Hall’s own Rose Archives team—guiding listeners on a journey through incredible moments that have helped shape the culture in which we live today.
5 Episodes
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Ella Fitzgerald made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1947 and returned more than 40 times before her final performance in 1991. When asked if she wanted to let a pack of fans greet her backstage after a performance at the Hall, she replied, “Oh yes, you’d better let them back. Someday, they may not want to come.” The beloved “First Lady of Song” was self-conscious and shy, hyper-aware of the fleeting nature of fame and recognition. Yet she projected an enchanting stage presence, a singular voice combined with improvisational mastery, and a signature sense of style — including her eyewear, like the pair of glasses seen on Ella’s 1973 "Newport Jazz Festival: Live at Carnegie Hall" album cover, which are now housed in Carnegie Hall’s Rose Archives.  Guests featured in this episode include vocalist Samara Joy (2023 Grammy Award winner for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album) and Fran Rosman, executive director of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and archivist of the Ella Fitzgerald estate. Members of Carnegie Hall’s Rose Archives and Museum team, including director Kathleen Sabogal, assistant director Rob Hudson, and founding archivist Gino Francesconi, are also featured.  If This Hall Could Talk is available wherever you get podcasts. New episodes are released every other week.
This episode looks at a momentous Carnegie Hall concert — the 1961 tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — and the roles that the Rat Pack and many other artists played in supporting Dr. King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference at a pivotal moment of growth for the organization and the Civil Rights Movement. Guests featured in this episode include Jonathan Eig, author of “King: A Life,” a 2023 biography of Dr. King; Tom Santopietro, author of “Sinatra in Hollywood”; Will Friedwald, author of “Sinatra! The Song Is You” and “The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums”; Emilie Raymond, author of “Stars for Freedom: Hollywood, Black Celebrities, and the Civil Rights Movement”; and Davóne Tines, path-breaking artist and singer. Members of Carnegie Hall’s Rose Museum and Archives team—including director Kathleen Sabogal, assistant director Rob Hudson, and founding archivist Gino Francesconi—are also featured.  If This Hall Could Talk is available wherever you get podcasts. New episodes are released every other week.
After more than a century, an unexpected piece of ephemera from May 5, 1891 — a ticket from Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night — made its way back to the Hall and into its archival collection in the Rose Museum. This episode travels back to that historic opening concert, and the Gilded Age world of Andrew Carnegie’s New York City, exploring what made Carnegie Hall unlike any other concert hall ever built — and how it remains one of a kind today.Guests in this episode include Carol Binkowski, author of "Opening Carnegie Hall"; Phillip Lopate, author of books including "Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan"; Emanuel Ax, award-winning pianist who has performed at the Hall more than 120 times over the last 50 years; and Kent Tritle, artistic director of the Oratorio Society of New York, which was featured on Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night and still performs at the hall today. Members of Carnegie Hall’s Rose Museum and Archives team—including director Kathleen Sabogal, assistant director Rob Hudson, and founding archivist Gino Francesconi—are also featured. If This Hall Could Talk is available wherever you get podcasts. New episodes are released every other week.
This episode of If This Hall Could Talk takes a close look at a Carnegie Hall icon: Judy Garland. With her magnificent and complex character, a public persona that often differed from her private reality, and incredible vivacity in the face of personal adversity, Garland is a figure who has long inspired and fascinated fans. The album from her landmark 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall captured these dualities, winning five Grammy Awards (including Album of the Year) and spending weeks at the top of the charts. It has also inspired numerous tribute performances, including a concert celebration led by host Jessica Vosk in 2022. Among the featured voices in this episode is John Fricke, author of “Judy Garland: World’s Greatest Entertainer,” and Emmy Award–winning producer of documentaries about Judy Garland for the PBS series “American Masters” and A&E.   If This Hall Could Talk is available wherever you get podcasts. New episodes are released every other week.
If This Hall Could Talk tells the story of culture in America as witnessed at one iconic venue: New York City’s Carnegie Hall. It’s long been a destination for the world’s top musical talents, speakers, activists, and with a history spanning more than 100 years.  Objects from the Carnegie Hall Rose Archives tell a complicated and quirky history of the hall showcasing the creation, development and celebration of uniquely American historical moments and music.Each episode features an object from the collections of Carnegie Hall’s Rose Archives and uses it as the starting point for stories of broader musical, cultural, and political significance. Hosted by Broadway star Jessica Vosk, the show brings in voices ranging from marquee talent to historical experts, guiding listeners on a journey that is guaranteed to leave them with a newfound appreciation for the breadth, diversity, and endless invention of the country’s musical arts and culture. If This Hall Could Talk is available wherever you get podcasts. New episodes are released every other week.
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