The Brooklyn Philhamonic calls its 2011 season a “reboot.” Under the leadership of Artistic Director Alan Pierson, the orchestra is going “deep into Brooklyn’s famed neighborhoods to connect with the vibrant musical traditions of the people who love it most” and collaborating with a variety of Brooklyn-based artists you might not normally find in the concert hall.
And, in fact, who needs concert halls? A performance with Mos Def as part of the Restoration Rocks Music Festival took place in the middle of Fulton Street. As Zachary Woolfe of The New York Times reported:
When an orchestra wants to play outside it usually ends up in a park, a pastoral setting for picnicking and music that is familiar and not too demanding: Bernstein’s “West Side Story” Suite, say, or Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony. The audience is generally as white as the wine.
That was what made the first preview of the rejuvenated Brooklyn Philharmonic’s season — and its first performance under Alan Pierson, its new artistic director — so remarkable. …There were no Bernstein or Mozart chestnuts to be heard. In front of the most diverse crowd I’ve ever seen at a “classical music” concert, Mr. Pierson led an ensemble of the orchestra’s members in three songs by the hip-hop artist (and Bedford-Stuyvesant native) Mos Def, who also joined in a brilliant performance of Frederic Rzewski’s “Coming Together,” written after the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Read the full article.
This new approach is generating a lot of interest in the field.
- Greg Sandow: “I’m delighted — amazed, thrilled, just over the moon… they’re doing very little standard repertoire. Some people will of course deplore that. But let them deplore.” (Sandow blog)
- Katherine Gressel: “Is the Philharmonic in fact departing permanently from its classical roots in favor of musical genres that are more popular, or hybrid? And will it, in turn, lose its (albeit small) base of Brooklyn classical music aficionados?” (CreateEquity blog)
- Ian VanderMeulen: “Sometimes a clean slate has the most creative potential.” (interview with Alan Pierson in SymphonyNow)
As we gear up for our first live event, “Talking About Community,” the Brooklyn Philharmonic reboot certainly gets us thinking about what it looks like for an organization to be in and of a community. Is this a reboot or a complete re-imagining?
Here is a video from the Mos Def/Brooklyn Philharmonic performance mentioned in the Zachary Woolfe article: