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Thursday, March 30, 2017

In Context: A Nonesuch Celebration

A stellar lineup of musical luminaries comes together for one night only to pay tribute to Bob Hurwitz, who for the past three decades has served as the visionary architect of Nonesuch Records, affectionately known as “the label without labels.” Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #NonesuchBAM.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Galaxy of Stars

Caetano Veloso and Bob Hurwitz. Photo courtesy Nonesuch Records.

By Michael Hill

For 32 years, Robert Hurwitz not only served as president of Nonesuch Records, but also reinvented it from the ground up, along with his staff finding and nurturing the remarkably wide range of artists who make up its roster. A Nonesuch Celebration on April 1 at the Howard Gilman Opera House is a tribute to him. At the center of the evening is Twelve Pieces for Bob, a program of world premiere works for piano by Nonesuch artists—John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Timo Andres, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, Adam Guettel, Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny, Randy Newman, Nico Muhly, and Steve Reich—performed by the composers and others. The evening also will include performances by Kronos Quartet, k.d. lang, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Thile, Caetano Veloso, Dawn Upshaw, Stephin Merritt, and others who have worked closely with Bob. Hurwitz, who has studied piano since childhood, has always kept an upright piano in his office, which he finds time to play each day. This program, then, is as much an acknowledgement of Bob Hurwitz the musician as the music lover, the A&R man, the record business visionary—and, to those on stage, a beloved friend.

Monday, March 27, 2017

We Love You, Trisha

Diane Madden, Tamara Riewe, and Laurel Tentindo in Planes, 2009. Photo: Stephanie Berger
The work of choreographer Trisha Brown (1936—2017) has been well-known at BAM for her large-scale proscenium productions such as Set and Reset, Glacial Decoy, and Newark (Niweweorce), all of which included contributions by major artists and composers. But Brown's legacy at BAM began early in Harvey Lichtenstein's tenure, which started in 1967.

In 1968, going by Trisha Brown Schlichter, she performed Planes in an ambitious collective titled Intermedia '68. It included other notable performance artists such as Terry Riley, Remy Charlip, Carolee Schneeman, and Al Carmines, a key figure in the Judson Church Movement, of which Brown was a formative member. In Planes, dancers hung from, and moved between, holes in a wall, onto which was projected a film collage. It would be remounted at BAM in a 2009 repertory program.

In Context: Doug Varone and Dancers

Choreographer Doug Varone presents three works—featuring scores by Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon—representing the past, present, and future of his peerless company. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #DougVarone.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Silent Voices Ring Out

Brooklyn Youth Chorus, 2014. Photo: Axel Dupeux for Brooklyn Magazine
By Robert Jackson Wood

If you are 15 years old and living in the United States, your life has been bookended by the unthinkable and the improbable. On one end is 9/11, whose cultural fallout—religious intolerance legitimized in the name of national security, for instance—you haven’t known a day without. On the other end is the recent election, which has only stoked those and other fanatical flames. There have been some good things in between: legalized gay marriage, for example. Yet as recent days have shown, progress is fragile. The pendulum has been yours to ride.

Luckily, though, tolerance is on the side of youth. In the Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ latest project, Silent Voices, the performers—whose average age is 15—offer an evening of newly commissioned and other choral works dedicated to those disenfranchised by the events of late (and not so late). In essence, it is a cri de coeur for understanding and empowerment, sung by those who understand the flip side of post-9/11 paranoia, multiculturalism, more intuitively than anyone. To all of those hushed by the recent hate, Silent Voices simply says—we hear you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Iconic Artist Talk: Robert Lepage

Tonight's conversation between Robert Lepage and Paul Holdengräber may be canceled thanks to Stella (the winter storm, not Kowalski), but you can still go behind-the-scenes with the visionary auteur thanks to archival footage from a 2013 BAM Iconic Artist talk. Peruse the clips below, and be sure to catch Lepage live in action in 887coming to the BAM Harvey Theater March 16–26.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Quebec Liberation Front

Director and performer Robert Lepage has shown work everywhere from Japan to the Met Opera, but his roots are firmly in Quebec, Canada. In his intimate solo work 887 (Mar 16—26 at the BAM Harvey), Lepage delves into an adolescence shaped by a fraught time in Canadian political and social history. Illustrator Nathan Gelgud details the radical movement for Quebec liberation, the memories of which Lepage explores in 887 through childlike wonder, technological wizardry and masterful storytelling.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

In Context: 887

Renowned Quebec-born director Robert Lepage reconfigures spaces from his past and present in this deeply personal, tech-saturated solo work. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #ExMachina887.

In Context: Mark Morris: Two Operas
An evening of Britten and Purcell

The choreographer presents a double-bill: Britten’s Curlew River, featuring the MMDG Music Ensemble, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, featuring mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #MMDG.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sanam Marvi

Sanam Marvi. Photo: Jinsaar Kandhro
By Richard Gehr

Since its 2008 debut, the Pakistani version of India’s popular Coke Studio TV show has helped popularize Sufi devotional music throughout South Asia. Along with rock and hip-hop, the show delivers a slick yet uncompromising blend of traditional songs in contemporary arrangements played on acoustic and electric instruments by the sort of youngish, long-haired studio virtuosos you might see in Los Angeles.

For her 2010 Coke Studio debut, Sanam Marvi sang “Manzil-e-Sufi” (The Sufi’s Destination) by the mystic poet Sachal Sarmast (1739—1826), whose Sindhi verses described the great lengths the singer would go to in order to merge with the divine. “I’ll become a yogi,” she sang in her powerful voice, “an ascetic in pursuit of my beloved.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River

Choreographer Mark Morris, who has captivated audiences for over 35 years with his unwavering commitment to music, returns to BAM March 15—19 with a career-spanning double bill that perfectly embodies his trademark blend of emotion and rhythm, movement and music. In the first act, the vocalists and orchestra of the MMDG Music Ensemble unite onstage to tell Benjamin Britten’s haunting parable of maternal grief in Curlew River. Below, scholar Hugh Macdonald reviews the origins of Britten’s stirring (and oft-overlooked) music-drama.

TMC Fellows perform Curlew River at Tangelwood. Photo: Hilary Scott
Dictionaries of opera all have an entry “Curlew River,” but it is not really an opera. Britten called it a “parable,” along with its two successors The Burning Fiery Furnace and The Prodigal Son. Designed for performance in church and not in the theater, these three works fall in the sequence of Britten’s operas between A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Owen Wingrave, and belong to an important phase in his life when he was re-thinking the issues of music theater and, more broadly, the direction of his style. All three are presented in a Christian context, and although the two later works are based on biblical stories, the origin of Curlew River lies far from the Christian tradition in which Britten was brought up.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Working with a Visionary—Harvey Lichtenstein

Harvey Lichtenstein, who was president and executive producer at BAM from 1967 to 1999, recently passed away. Here are some memories from colleagues of the man who stoutly believed in Brooklyn, and whose actions would immeasurably transform and enrich both the borough's vibrancy and the world's cultural landscape.

Harvey feeling the dancing with his heart, 1985 Photo (crop): J. Ross Baughman

Robert Lepage at BAM

by Joseph Bradshaw

Robert Lepage
From his upturning of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Met to his reinvention of the hardboiled detective story in Polygraph (presented at 1990’s Next Wave Festival), Robert Lepage can always be found at the forefront of theatrical innovation. Also an acclaimed film director, Lepage’s work for the stage strikes an inventive balance between filmed and live action. His deep understanding of the potential of contemporary technology is used to reinterpret the past, and his results are always astonishing. What else would we expect from contemporary theater’s foremost Renaissance man?    

Since Polygraph, BAM has presented Lepage’s stage work on the regular. For the 1992 Next Wave a 35-year-old Lepage—who by that point was already an established figure on the international scene—performed his triumphal one-man show Needles and Opium. This piece, which Mel Gussow called “a chamber work marked by its absolute precision,” crosscut the lives of Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau with elements of Lepage’s own autobiography, in a gymnastic medley of musings on jazz, travel, Surrealism, and the act of creation itself.