Justin Davidson writes about the reinvention of the Brooklyn Philharmonic in New York Magazine’s fall preview issue: “It’s hard to imagine what self-respecting conductor would be crazy enough to go near the Brooklyn Philharmonic, which in recent years has managed to shed its stable budget, its visibility, its subscriber list, and its home.” Well, that would be new Artistic Director Alan Pierson, founder of Alarm Will Sound. He’s putting ideas from that and other musical adventures to work in a season that includes a Russian Cartoons concert in Brighton Beach, with music by Shostakovich, and one in Bed-Stuy that combines Beethoven, Lena Horne and Mos Def.
Here’s a thought. Since the Philharmonic is roving (as is the New York City Opera), maybe they should adopt an idea that’s been embraced lately by the retail and restaurant worlds: the pop-up shop. A restaurant or store or fashion outlet takes over an empty storefront for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, and tries out new concepts or product lines. The semi-squatters utilize a space that would sit vacant anyway, and limit their overhead while still presenting their products to the world. Buzz is generated.
OK, so maybe the logistics of a full orchestra don’t lend themselves easily to pop-up events. But then again, orchestras have long taken performances to all kinds of locales, and chamber ensembles have been presenting offbeat programs in clubs, outdoor spaces or wherever they can set up shop.
So maybe a pop-up venue isn’t such an off-the-wall idea. Think about the possibilities of rehearsing and performing in a vacant, street-level space. Neighbors are curious about sudden activity in an empty location; they see musicians coming and going and might even have the chance to step in and talk with them. Music wafts out through the windows; word of mouth is generated, Tweets and photos fly via social media, and local audiences who wouldn’t necessarily travel far for a concert might give it a try.
Just a thought.