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The Philharmonic is finally singing a new tune

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Philharmonic is over the blues.

The formerly cash-strapped orchestra announced that it’s not only coming back for the 2011 season, but will be guided by one of the borough’s most legendary conductors and expand its local programming for the first time in years.

Alan Pierson, who’s touted as the future of classical music by critics, will take over conducting and programming duties from Michael Christie.

“We’re turning our whole focus toward Brooklyn and its locals — and Alan is the guy to do that,” said Jack Rainey, the symphony’s board president. “Brooklyn is the coolest place on the planet for music, and Alan knows that. Landing on him was a dream.”

Pierson is one of the group’s first dreams come true in years — it’s been a rocky road for the Philharmonic.

In April of 2009, the ensemble canceled its final two shows of the season and laid off four workers due to lack of funding. Two weeks later, a composer sued the company for cutting short his symphony mid-performance in 2004.

By early 2010, it was unclear whether the show would go on until several foundations and the City Council rallied behind the orchestra and saved the 2011 season.

It’s all good news from there.

Pierson says that he’s designing a new series that will bring the orchestra into neighborhoods throughout the borough and collaborate with local musicians — and then put on free concerts.

Plus, the company got enough cash to finish its makeover of the decommissioned firehouse on Degraw Street in Cobble Hill and turn it into an educational center and administrative space — a plan that went belly up shortly after the firehouse was purchased in 2008.

Rainey said this week that all the funds are lined up for the new space, though it’s yet unclear whether the four laid off non-musicians will be rehired. In any event, Rainey is convinced that Pierson will be his savior.

“We will become ‘Brooklyn’s Orchestra’ like never before,” Pierson said. “My goal is for the Brooklyn Philharmonic to connect with the borough’s vast, unique population.”

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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