Despite the fact that music venues around the city were allowed to reopen at lower capacity as of April, many chose to hold off until they were able to open safely to a full house. Now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to end most capacity restrictions as of May 19th, some venues will begin to bring back shows more readily. But in the meantime, BAM is staging an extremely unique—and extremely personal—socially-distanced musical experience in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Think of it like Marina Abramović’s The Artist Is Present—but instead of being engaged in an intense, tear-inducing staring contest, you get to hear a lovely musical piece.
For the next two weekends, BAM will premiere 1:1 CONCERTS, curated by the Silkroad Ensemble. Forty-five New York musicians will take part in the program at nine locations—including “industrial warehouses, open-air rooftops, and a botanic wonderland”—spread out throughout the Navy Yard. Each musician will perform an approximately 10-minute long personal concert for one attendee at a time.
The shows will take place between noon and 6 p.m. on May 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th. And best of all, the whole thing is free with reservation—and there are some tickets still available for both weekends as of Tuesday afternoon, though you better act fast because there will be no stand-by line.
When you arrive at Building 77, a BAM host will escort you through “alleyways, nooks, and corridors, providing rare behind-the-scenes glimpses of the historic, living landmark.” Then the musician you’re paired with will pick a piece from memory that’s chosen in the moment; the range of instruments that will be there include accordion, cello, clarinet, double bass, erhu, flute, Celtic harp, oud, percussion, saxophone, trumpet, and viola.
“The idea of bringing together some of the most stellar musicians on the Eastern Seaboard—and from so many different musical backgrounds—to create individual gems of experience for one person at a time is thrilling to me,” said Silkroad artist Mazz Swift. “Add to that the stunning vistas and eclectic spaces the Brooklyn Navy Yard has to offer, and I’m convinced there really couldn’t be a better way to draw people back to connection through music. It’s going to be an experience of a lifetime; transformational for both artist and listener.”
The 1:1 CONCERT series has given musicians across the globe the chance to performs for thousands of people during the pandemic in places including Israel, Germany, Japan and Australia.
Stephanie Winker, a Juilliard-trained flutist who created the format, told CBC last year that she wanted to create an intimate bond between performer and listener. And she said that as with Abramović’s project, people do sometimes end up crying.
“Sometimes people start to cry after half a minute,” she said. “Sometimes people find wonderful peace. You can just see how they relax, how they let go. It’s really, really touching. And it’s just as profound on the musician’s side as it is on the audience’s side.”