Photography by Andy Ryan
A gig at Carnegie Hall, one of the most hallowed places for musicians, is tangible proof of having reached the pinnacle of one’s talent. As its director of artistic planning, Jeremy Geffen holds the keys, meeting with the greats of classical, jazz, and contemporary music in his airy white office atop that familiar bastion of brick in Midtown Manhattan.
So what does he look for? “I’m impressed by performers who take risks, show vulnerability,” he explains, adding that he still gets giddy from some performers’ talent. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, and raised in Southern California, the 39-year-old Geffen trained as a violist before an injury compelled him to find a new career that facilitated his passion for music. “Music is a refuge for people, a place to find inspiration and escape,” he says. “With so much bad stuff in the world, this creative process, this act of performing — in which the audience is as important as the people on stage — is one of those few times people are happy to raise their hand and say, ‘Yep, I’m happy to be a human being. Count me in.’ ”