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Monday, March 2, 2015

Eat (Sandwiches), Drink & Be Literary: Tiphanie Yanique

Tiphanie Yanique. Illustration by Nathan Gelgud.
Eat, Drink & Be Literary, presented in partnership with the National Book Foundation, is back this week with Caribbean writer Tiphanie Yanique. With a new season comes a new batch of food, beverage, and book-related questions for our featured authors. (Read responses from last year's writers here.)

When you write, do you write by hand or on the computer (…or typewriter)?
By hand, by computer... but lately I've been sort of writing a lot in my mind. Just composing things in my head on the go... and hoping I remember them later! But also being okay with forgetting.

What is your favorite Brooklyn-based novel?
Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall.

When you read, are you an e-book or a paper book person?
Total paper. I am as analog as can be.

Pilar's grilled cheese. Photo from Serious Eats.
What is your favorite sandwich?
Grilled cheese with sweet plantains. They make it as the Cuban place called Pilar in my hood.  So good.

What is your favorite Brooklyn restaurant?

What is your go-to beverage?
Water, sparkling if it's available.

What is the last live performance that really moved you?
Saul Williams at BAM. My husband and I still talk about it. It was transporting and transformative.

Tiphanie Yanique will read from her most recent novel Land of Love and Drowning, and talk with moderator Lorin Stein at Eat, Drink & Be Literary on Tuesday, March 3.

Friday, February 27, 2015

In Context: Semele

The Canadian Opera Company's production of Handel's Semele comes to BAM March 4—10. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cuban Culture in Clear Focus

Creole Choir of Cuba at BAM in 2011. Photo: Rahav Segev
By Sandy Sawotka

When BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins was honored last month in Havana by the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, it spoke to BAM’s longstanding commitment to maintaining cultural links between the US and Cuba. The vibrant, eclectic artistry of the island nation has been featured memorably in numerous BAM programs. Ballet Folklórico Cutumba performed in 2002 as part of BAM’s annual DanceAfrica celebration. As part of the citywide ¡Sí Cuba! festival in 2011, BAM presented dance by Ballet Nacional de Cuba, plus a second visit by Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, and music by the Creole Choir of Cuba, the O’Farrill Family Band, the Cuban Cowboys, Nag Champayons, Delexilio, Telmary Díaz, the Pedrito Martinez Group, and Quimbombó. Red, Hot + Cuba (2012) was an all-star celebration of Cuba’s music scene, with El Tosco, Alexander Abreu, Carlos Varela, CuCu Diamantes, and other captivating artists taking the stage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

BAM podcast: Philip Glass' Etudes

In the inaugural episode of the BAM podcast, Philip Glass and nine world-renowned pianists discuss his piano etudes and what makes them so remarkable and challenging to perform.

Glass, along with fellow composers Timo Andres, Anton Batagov, Tania Leon, and Nico Muhly; new music champion Bruce Levingston; loyal Glass interpreters Maki Namekawa and Sally Whitwell; jazz prodigy Aaron Diehl; and classical virtuoso Jenny Lin performed the etudes in a concert produced by Linda Brumbach and Pomegranate Arts during the BAM Next Wave Festival on December 5 and 6, 2014.

Rigorous Rhythm: Kaoru Watanabe on Taiko

Kaoru Watanabe, courtesy the artist's website.

Drawing on the images, sounds, and techniques of ancient Japanese ritual, taiko drum ensemble Kodo melds rigor with grace in Mystery, coming to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House March 19—21. Led by artistic director Tamasaburo Bando, Kabuki theater giant and a national treasure of Japan, the troupe showcases its legendary drumming alongside virtuosic dance and instrumental performance. 

To get a better sense of this athletic musical tradition, we sat down with Kaoru Watanabe—founder of the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center in Crown Heights. In 1997, after graduating from the Manhattan School of Music, Kaoru moved to Japan and joined Kodo—touring across the globe with the ensemble and even serving as one of its artistic directors from 2005—2007. It was, in the artist's words, "a truly transformative experience."

Monday, February 23, 2015

From the Archives: Groundbreaking Black Artistry at BAM

Next month, BAM presents the story of legendary civil rights activist and performer Paul Robeson in the theatrical production The Tallest Tree in the Forest. Robeson was a pioneering artist best known for singing the iconic “Ol’ Man River” in stage and film productions of Show Boat.  In 1931, he also performed a one-night song recital at BAM's very own Howard Gilman Opera House. Since it’s Black History Month, we turned to the BAM Hamm Archives to learn more about the numerous legendary black artists who’ve graced  our stages over the years. It turns out that, like Robeson, many of these artists deeply integrated activism and their support for civil rights and equality into their art.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Where Chinese Spirits Dwell—Semele's Temple

Semele's temple. Photo: Gary Beechey.
By David Hsieh

“Gong Hey Fat Choy!” Today we start the 4712th Chinese new year, the year of the ram. According to astrology, it’s the year to show your gentle hearts and creative impulses!

Many of the Chinese new year customs are known among non-Chinese. For instance, the marking of years with 12 animals; the standard greeting of “Gong Hey Fat Choy!” (in Cantonese) or “Gong Xi Fa Cai!” (in Mandarin), which means “wishing you good fortune;” giving “red packet money” to children; lighting firecrackers; watching the lion dance. But some are less known, including the act of paying tribute to one’s ancestors.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BAM Illustrated: Eugene O'Neill in Buenos Aires

Eugene O'Neill's seminal play The Iceman Cometh, now onstage at the BAM Harvey Theater, was first performed in the last decade of O'Neill's life. Years earlier, before he had any theatrical aspirations at all, O'Neill was 21, going nowhere in particular and found himself adrift in Buenos Aires.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Be my adventurous artist, audience, and idea

We’d like to think that we’re no softies here at the BAM blog and that we’re immune to Valentine’s Day sentiment. But this year, we're feeling the love. To express our amour, we looked to some of our most iconic artists for some very BAM ways to play cupid.

Send the images below to your paramours via Twitter or Facebook. Or click for larger versions to print or save to your desktop. Happy Valentine's Day!

Angels in America (2014 Next Wave Festival)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Semele in a Chinese Shrine

Steven Humes as Cadmus in 2012. Photo: Michael Cooper
By David Hsieh 

An ad appeared in London’s Daily Post on January 9, 1744: “By Particular Desire, Mr. Handel proposes to Perform, by Subscription, Twelve Times during next Lent, and engages to play two New Performances (and some of his former Oratorios, if Time will permit).”

Mr. Handel, was, of course, George Frideric Handel, the most famous opera composer and impresario in London then. But in 1744, his fortune was dwindling. Audience taste had turned from Italian to English opera and oratorio; the rival Opera of the Nobility was siphoning the aristocratic patronage he had enjoyed for the past 30 years. The ad was his attempt to establish a subscription-based model to put on shows.