Alan Pierson to Lead the Brooklyn Philharmonic

The Appointment of a new Artistic Director for the Brooklyn Philharmonic

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 02:26 PM

Finally!! Brooklyn lives up to its hipper-than-hip image! Alan Pierson, the 36-year old conductor of the groundbreaking New Music ensembles Alarm Will Sound and Dublin-based Crash Ensemble, is bringing his prodigious talents and badass programmatic instincts to the Brooklyn Philharmonic as their new Artistic Director, effective immediately. Pierson has made a name for himself as a tireless advocate of innovative music through collaborations with composers such as Steve Reich, Aphex Twin, Michael Gordon and Donnacha Dennehy.

On the Brooklyn Philharmonic's homepage, Pierson promises that "in re-imagining the role of the Brooklyn Phil, we want the orchestra to connect with the Borough’s population through events that celebrate and reflect its diverse communities." As a means to this end, Pierson is to lead the charge with an active outreach series called Junctions which promises to partner with a variety of local venues in free or low-cost concerts that emphasize collaboration and experimentation across a breadth of genres.

As our way of peeling back the curtain of what's in store for Brooklyn, Q2 is proud to present three major Alan Pierson and Alarm Will Sound works today at 4:10 p.m., EST: Steve Reich's Tehillim and The Desert Music and Michael Gordon's video opera, Van Gogh. You can also stream on-demand the sounds of both Alarm Will Sound and Crash Ensemble in recent concerts recorded live at the Greenwich Village New Music hub, (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Alarm Will Sound: Live from (Le) Poisson Rouge on March 23, 2010 with music of Caleb Burhans

Crash Ensemble: Live from (Le) Poisson Rouge on July 1, 2010 with music of Steve Reich, David Lang, Terry Riley and ensemble director, Donnacha Dennehy.

Here's a word from Q2 Host Nadia Sirota with her thoughts:

Yay Alan! I am so pumped about Alan Pierson's appointment as Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Phil. Alarm Will Sound, Alan's 20-piece band has a wonderful habit of putting on shows with some of the most imaginative programming I've ever seen in an medium-big ensemble setting. I am terribly interested in what Alan's unique sensibility will bring to the orchestral performing arm of my home borough! 

I met Alan when we were both fellows at Tanglewood in the summer of I think 2004. Technically, we met on opposite sides of the music stand when he conducted Elliott Carter's surprising Holiday Overture, a Barber-y early work. But soon, we were both engaged in Tanglewood's premiere social outlet (I mean, beer...) and discovered how much we both liked "the new stuff" (I mean, music...). I was then, as I am now, very impressed with his mind and ability to think creatively about programming, promotion, the role of the artist, and so many other really, really important elements of curation. Also creation! I am a huge fan. So congrats to Alan, I can't wait to see what happens next!


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Comments [11]

Carrie from New York

I, for one, am sick and tired about being told what I intellectually "should" like. I'm also tired about having to listen to what I don't like when I go to a concert. I'm sure there needs to be a venue for the "new" music which, for the most part sounds like noise to me rather than music, and am happy for those who love it will have that venue. I certainly will not be attending. Music is very special to me, it does woundrous things to me, puts me in moods, takes me out of moods. The kind of music that makes me irritable, I want to shy away from. Sorry if I'm not "in", but I'm true to my feelings.

Mar. 03 2011 10:24 AM
Michael Meltzer

Very good, Max. Take all that on the phone and sell subscriptions.
Good luck.

Feb. 01 2011 02:49 AM

Brooklyn doesn't need Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall needs Brooklyn. Alan Pierson already has sufficiently established a reputation as a presenter of new music and innovative collaborations that any venue would be proud, nay desperate, to embrace. If he was an unknown, sure, you'd need "Big Name" soloists, but to those who know, those who'd be willing to give the Brooklyn Phil another chance, those who'd tweet their concerts and do viral marketing simply out of excitement about the rep, his name carries enormous weight.

Jan. 31 2011 10:37 PM
Michael Meltzer

Just to underscore my earlier suggestion, look at what moving to Carnegie Hall from Riverside Church did for Orpheus.
I think an appearance, at least, for BP at Carnegie Hall is a must. If you have something new and good to show, and want people to notice and talk about it, that is the place to present it.

Jan. 29 2011 08:09 PM
Michael Meltzer

I don't see artistic innovation as an immediate, dramatic, overnight solution to imminent bankruptcy, -maybe in the long run, maybe not.
You have to bring ticket buyers to the box office in droves and generate the confidence that gives your development people something to work with. That means a solid roster of Big Name Soloists for the first two years. The conductor who can make that materialize is the right conductor for now.
You can't do these things without money.

Jan. 28 2011 09:32 PM

@violinhunter that is an absurd logic re: the "death knell of the orchestra." this appointment is a means of breathing new life into the cultural world of brooklyn. and not because Alarm Will Sound's concerts sell out like mad all over the U.S. (people "voting with their feet") which isn't an indicator of intrinsic value but mass appeal (people "vote with their feet" at Andre Rieu and James Galway concerts but that doesn't mean they'll be cited as musical innovators two centuries from now). Pierson is exciting because of his willingness to experiment, play and conflate the divide between classical and popular musics (e.g. Aphex Twin orchestrations). And yes, there are pieces there one can happily hum!

Jan. 28 2011 03:13 PM

This might be the death knell of the orchestra. I despise new music which is atonal, dissonant, percussive, gimmicky, rhythmically complex beyond belief, and uninspired. Composers nowadays write music the way I would paint a picture by the numbers or a mathematician would solve a mathematical formula. Give me something I can whistle or at least hum. This is why classical music is dying - for lack of good new music. People vote with their feet - even if they don't know anything about (classical) music, they know what they like.

Jan. 28 2011 12:34 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane

SIEGFRIED LANDAU, the founder and for many years the sole conductor, of the Brooklyn Philharmonia, died recently when his home burned down, was the archetypicall new music promoter with his orchestra. The Philharmonic may be the sequel orchestra to the Brooklyn Philharmonia taken over by Maestro Thomas Sherman, the successor to Landau. Maestro Landau was an excellent pianist and conducted an orchestra with me in performances of Dimitri in John Gutman's English adaptation of Boris Godunov and as a heroic-voiced Ernesto in Donizetti's Don Pasquale at New York's Town Hall. My mom was a graduate of Brooklyn Law School when it was part of St. Lawrence University. I am a partisan for Brooklyn though I don't live there. It is a CORNUCOPIA of cultures and a goldmine of talent.

Jan. 24 2011 07:27 PM
Michael Meltzer

It is totally irrational but true, that many people will travel 100 miles and more to come to Manhattan for shopping and "culture," but many people also refuse to travel just 5 or 6 miles to go to Brooklyn.
Why doesn't the Brooklyn Philharmonic book Carnegie Hall for a few concerts a year to enlarge their audience, sell some high-priced tickets, promote their subscriptions and hopefully widen their circle of benefactors? It certainly wouldn't hurt their image!

Jan. 23 2011 02:22 PM
Rob Haskins from Dover, NH

Great news for new music! I expect even greater things from Alan Pierson in the future.

Jan. 20 2011 04:44 PM
Michael Meltzer

Brooklyn is a great city in its own right of 3 million extremely diverse individuals. I lived there for 40 years and loved it. Culturally it is a curious mix of the adventurous and the Victorian.
It may take Maestro Pierson a couple of years to work out the programming kinks in this vibrant but heavily and vocally opinionated community, and he may not have a couple of years to save this terrific orchestra.
They are dropping like flies everywhere, and the BP needs subscriptions, plenty of them, and right away! That subsciption roster is one of the first things that foundations, the NEA and the State Council look at, not individual concert attendance.
Let's hope that the new musical effort is matched by a solid marketing one, beginning yesterday!

Jan. 19 2011 07:54 PM

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