Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is a major performing arts venue in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City, United States, known as a center for progressive and avant garde performance.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music presented its first performance in 1861 and began operations in its present location in 1908. Today, BAM has a worldwide reputation as a leader in artistic innovation and has grown into a model urban arts center focused on both international issues in the arts and local community needs.
Its enduring purpose is to provide a distinctive environment in which its audiences—annually, more than 550,000 people from New York City and beyond—may experience a broad array of aesthetic and cultural programs. BAM’s activities have been conducted under the leadership of Karen Brooks Hopkins, President, and Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer, for over 25 years.
- BAM is America's oldest performing arts center, founded in 1861.
- In 2008, BAM had a record breaking attendance of 550,000.
- BAM is a not-for-profit organization reliant on contributions to fulfill its mission.
- BAM presents or produces up to 220 stage performances each year, many of international origin.
- BAM has a four-screen cinema, open 365 days a year, presenting new releases and BAMcinématek repertory films.
- During its first century, BAM hosted political events, speeches, and rallies on the pressing issues of the day. Speakers included Henry Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Amelia Earhart.
- BAMcafé Live features up to 75 free performances annually.
- BAM has an in-house restaurant and bar.
- BAM Education serves up to 24,000 students and 200 New York City schools annually.
- BAM hosts The Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the largest commemoration event to Dr. King in New York City.
1861: The Academy of Music on Montague Street is inaugurated on January 15, with a program including Mozart and Verdi. Mercadante’s Il Giuramento, the first opera performance, appears one week later with First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln in attendance
1864: The Brooklyn and Long Island Sanitary Fair is held to raise money for the US Sanitary Commission aiding sick and wounded Union Civil War soldiers
1884: Mark Twain & George W. Cable entertain with readings and storytelling
1891: Booker T. Washington delivers a speech on full emancipation
1903: The first Brooklyn Academy of Music burns to the ground
1908: Brooklyn Academy of Music opens new home on Lafayette Ave (Fort Greene); gala features Met Opera (Geraldine Farrar/Enrico Caruso in Gounod’s Faust)
1908: Isadora Duncan dances with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Symphony Orchestra
1917: Sarah Bernhardt gives six performances in three days at the age of 73, despite an amputated leg
1931: Paul Robeson gives a song recital
1936: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences merges with Brooklyn Academy of Music
1940: President Franklin D. Roosevelt appears to packed crowds with 2,200 in the Opera House, 700 onstage, and 6,000 outside in the street
1948: Pearl Primus and Company dance her experiences of Africa
1952: Physical deterioration necessitates the removal of the cornice at 30 Lafayette Avenue. A rescue plan includes paying New York City a rent of $1 / year for 100 years
1962: Rudolf Nureyev makes his American debut with the Chicago Opera Ballet shortly after defecting from the Soviet Union
1967: Harvey Lichtenstein is appointed president of the Academy
1968: Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs its first extended New York season
1969: Robert Wilson makes his BAM debut with The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud
1971: The Royal Shakespeare Company makes its BAM debut with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Peter Brook
1973: BAM’s newly renovated ballroom is formally dedicated as the Lepercq Space, named after Paul Lepercq, chairman of the board
1977: A month before the fall season, a 30-inch city water main under Ashland Place bursts, causing severe flooding
1977: BAM presents the inaugural DanceAfrica, created by Chuck Davis, the country’s largest celebration of African-American dance
1981: Next Wave series debuts with the Trisha Brown, Laura Dean, and Lucinda Childs dance companies and Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha
1983: Laurie Anderson makes her BAM debut with United States: Parts I—IV in the second season of the Next Wave series
1983: Next Wave Festival is launched with The Photographer/Far from the Truth, by Philip Glass & JoAnne Akalaitis
1984: Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal makes its BAM debut with The Rite of Spring, 1980, Café Müller, and Bluebeard’s Castle
1987: BAM produces its first Martin Luther King Jr. tribute with the Brooklyn borough president’s office
1987: BAM Majestic Theater is inaugurated with Peter Brook’s nine-hour-long The Mahabharata
1989: American premiere of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Atys with Théâtre National de l’Opéra de Paris features BAM debut of William Christie & Les Arts Florissants
1992: American debut of Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut
1995: Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden returns as part of a city-wide Bergman Festival with 350+ events; BAM’s Karen Brooks Hopkins is executive producer
1997: BAMcafé opens in BAM Lepercq Space
1998: The Carey Playhouse is converted to four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas, home to BAMcinématek, featuring repertory, independent, and foreign films
1998: Ballett Frankfurt first appears at BAM In EIDOS : TELOS choreographed by William Forsythe
1999: Harvey Lichtenstein retires and is succeeded by Karen Brooks Hopkins (president) & Joseph V. Melillo (executive producer)
1999: Majestic Theater renamed BAM Harvey Theater in honor of Harvey Lichtenstein in conjunction with endowment gift from Doris Duke Charitable Trust
1999: BAMcafé Live begins programming free weekend music in the Lepercq Space
2002: Fiona Shaw plays title role of Euripides’ Medea, directed by Deborah Warner; following its BAM run the Abbey Theatre production moves to Broadway
2003: Royal National Theatre / Market Theatre of Johannesburg production of The Island, originally directed by Athol Fugard, with John Kani & Winston Ntshona
2005: Eat, Drink & Be Literary begins first season in partnership with the National Book Awards in BAMcafé
2006: Robert Redford inaugurates Sundance Institute at BAM, a three-year partnership
2006: BAM celebrates Steve Reich @ 70, including choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Akram Khan
2007: Visual artist William Kentridge directs his interpretation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute
2007: Sufjan Stevens performs The BQE, a Next Wave Festival commission exploring New York’s infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway
2008: Paul Simon performs in three BAM-produced concert engagements in a month-long residency, Love in Hard Times: The Music of Paul Simon
2009: BAM launches the Bridge Project, a transatlantic partnership with London’s Old Vic and Neal Street Productions; productions of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, directed by Sam Mendes, open at BAM before touring the globe
2009: BAMcinemafest is inaugurated, featuring independent films and repertory cinema from around the world
2009: Cate Blanchett plays Blanche Dubois in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Liv Ullmann
2010: Ground is broken on the BAM Richard B. Fisher Building, named in his honor by his widow, Jeannie Donovan Fisher, with substantial support from NYC
2010: Alexei Ratmansky creates a new version of The Nutcracker for American Ballet Theatre’s five-year seasonal residency at BAM
2010: DanceMotion USA, a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State produced by BAM, showcases contemporary American dance abroad; the first tours features Evidence, ODC/Dance, and Urban Bush Women
2011: BAM celebrates ¡Sí Cuba!, a citywide festival of Cuban culture, with BAM presentations of Creole Choir and Ballet Nacional de Cuba
2011: BAM’s 150th anniversary celebration begins with the restaging of the landmark production of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Atys, conducted by William Christie with Les Arts Florissants
Founded in 1861 the first BAM facility at 176-194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was conceived as the home of the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. The building, designed by architect Leopold Eidlitz, housed a large theater seating 2,200, a smaller concert hall, dressing and chorus rooms, and a vast "baronial" kitchen. BAM presented amateur and professional music and theater productions, including performers such as Ellen Terry, Edwin Booth, Tomas Salvini, and Fritz Kreisler.
After the building burned to the ground on November 30, 1903, plans were made to relocate to a new facility in the then fashionable neighborhood of Fort Greene. The cornerstone was laid at 30 Lafayette Avenue in 1906 and a series of opening events were held in the fall of 1908 culminating with a grand gala evening featuring Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso in a Metropolitan Opera production of Charles Gounod's Faust. The Met would continue to present seasons in Brooklyn, featuring star singers such as Caruso, right through until 1921.
The new building is adjacent to downtown Brooklyn, near the Atlantic Terminal of the Long Island Rail Road and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, once the tallest building in Brooklyn.
In 1967 Harvey Lichtenstein was appointed executive director and during the 32 years that Lichtenstein was BAM's leader, BAM experienced a renaissance. BAM is now recognized internationally as a progressive cultural center well known for The Next Wave Festival (started in 1983). Artists who have presented their works there include Philip Glass, Peter Brook, Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, Lee Breuer, ETHEL, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Steve Reich, Seal, Alice in Chains, Robert Wilson, BLACKstreet, Ingmar Bergman, The Whirling Dervishes and the Kirov Opera directed and conducted by Valery Gergiev among others. Lichtenstein gave a home to the Chelsea Theater Center, in residence from 1967-1977.
BAM is currently under the leadership of President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo.
BAM's Peter Jay Sharp Building houses the Howard Gilman Opera House and the BAM Rose Cinemas. It was designed by the firm Herts & Tallant in 1908. It is a "U" shaped building with an open court in the center of the lot between two theater wings above the first story. It measures 190 feet along Lafayette Avenue, 200 feet deep, and 70 feet high. The building has a high base of gray granite with cream colored brick trimmed in terra cotta with some marble detail above. It is located within the Fort Greene Historic District.
Richard B. Fisher Building
Scheduled to open in September 2012, the Richard B. Fisher Building is currently under construction adjacent to the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Also designed by Hugh Hardy, the new building’s sustainable features will include: no- or low-volatile organic compound materials, use of day-lighting and sun shades, storm water collection and re-use, energy efficient mechanical and lighting systems, building management systems, and a green roof. Once complete, the BAM Fisher Building will be an affordable venue for hosting performances by emerging talent, community events, and educational programs.
BAM's facilities feature:
- BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, with 2,109 seats.
- BAM Harvey Lichtenstein Theater, with 874 seats, formerly known as the Majestic Theater, named in Lichtenstein's honor in 1999. A renovation by architect Hugh Hardy left the interior unpainted and with often exposed stonework, giving theater a unique feel of a "modern ruin".
- BAM Rose Cinemas opened in 1997, allowing Brooklynites the chance to see more art films without having to go to Manhattan.
- The Lepercq Space, originally conceived as BAM's ballroom, now a flexible event space and home to receptions, rentals, and BAMcafé. BAMcafé is open for dinner on nights when there is a performance in the Opera House. BAMcafé Live is a free series of live music performances on select Friday and Saturday nights.
- BAM Hillman Attic Studio, a flexible rehearsal/performing space.
- List of museums and cultural institutions in New York City
- List of concert halls
- Brooklyn Academy of Music
- Brooklyn Academy of Music on NYC-ARTS.org
- Brooklyn Academy of Music on NYCkidsARTS.org