A group plays on a porch. Rathkopf Photography
The streets of Park Slope were alive with music on Saturday, May 15 during the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music’s (BKCM) Spring Benefit, a free community music festival that spanned 20 stages – including front steps, sidewalks, grounds school and gardens.
BKCM invited its neighbors to enjoy more than 150 musicians, including students and professors from BKCM, as well as local artists and world famous musicians like Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill and Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, who kicked off the festivities at the event’s Main Stage – PS 321. Everything from hip hop to classical, from sailors’ songs to 80s covers, could be heard during the festival in outdoors, creating a joyful and invigorating moment for a city taking the turn of the pandemic.
âIn a year in which lives have been so profoundly changed, we knew that music education would be more essential than ever,â said Chad Cooper, Executive Director of BKCM. âWe’ve worked hard to remain a hub for the community, closing for just three days, quickly pivoting to meet the needs of thousands of our students and clients – and all without layoffs, time off or reduced wages for any of our 165 professors and staff. . Our Free Spring Benefit has allowed us to thank our community for staying with us through difficult times, support musicians whose careers have been deeply affected by the pandemic, and donate music to our neighbors and partners through the city. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have brought thousands of people together with music and helped get through a really tough year.
In addition to more than 1,500 BKCM families, friends and festival-goers, other guests saw moving to the music, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Zellnor Myrie, District Council member 39 Brad Lander and District 52 State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.
Ticket purchases (which provided access to food and drink) and donations, large and small, supported the musicians of the day as well as financial support for BKCM community programs – including Music Partners and Music Therapy, which reach thousands of young people and adults in New York City’s five boroughs.
In addition to the main stage at PS 321 and BKCM Brass Stoop, performance scenes included: the Treble Without a Cause teen stage at the Milk Bar; selections from The Music Room to Spoke the Hub; the Klezmer stage from Dime Community Bank; Perfect step puppets at Puppetworks; Byrne it! Swing and rumba dance scene at the Old Stone House; the Investors Bank Stage: Velvet Vocals; 1980s Jams – Slope Style at The Commissioner / High Dive; Chamber Bash at Old First Reformed Church; plus bluegrass jam; jazz trios; Student stars; the Aria zone; Deep blue sea (cabins); Dynamic duets; Sondheim & Friends Singalong; Toddlers! Music! Trousers!; Beatboxing, Nursery Rhymes and Life; and Drumming Around the World – hosted on porches and private spaces throughout the neighborhood.