After a rocky couple of years, the Brooklyn Philharmonic is back with a new artistic director.
Alan Pierson of the new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound has been selected to lead what the orchestra is calling a "new era." In 2009, longstanding financial troubles became so extreme that the orchestra was forced to cancel its entire 2009-2010 season, except for featuring a few smaller ensembles in its Off the Wall series.
This year, the orchestra is returning with a new artistic director and mandate to collaborate closely with Brooklyn's diverse musical communities. This fall, the orchestra will inaugurate a new series called "Junctions," which will bring free and low-cost perfromances to neighborhoods around Brooklyn, including downtown, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brighton Beach.
"If I had been approached by another board in another location with that same mandate, I probably wouldn't have been interested," says Pierson. "But the idea of doing that sort of work in Brooklyn, where there is so much, and so many different kinds of music-making to connect with was just incredibly exciting."
Pierson hinted that coming up, the orchestra might play with musicians from the borough's immigrant communities and from its thriving indie rock scene, for example. As the leader of Alarm Will Sound, Pierson is already accustomed to those kinds of collaborations, having worked with bands such as the Dirty Projectors and Aphex Tiwn.
"He is an extremely talented conductor and musician," says Steve Reich, the visionary American composer who pioneered the style known as minimalism in the 1960s. "And I think as a music director and programmer of new repetoire, he will bring a fresh musical persepctive for sure."
Pierson replaces Michael Christie, music director of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, whose contract with the Brooklyn Philharmonic expired in June.