BAM Presents the Harvey Fund

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is pleased to announce the Harvey Fund, a charitable fund aimed at remembering the life of Harvey Lichtenstein, the man behind BAM’s revitalization. The funds donated will ensure the continuation of the daring contemporary work that flourishes at the institution.

Lichtenstein passed away in February of 2017. He served as the President and Executive Producer of BAM for 32 years and sought out to bring a dying theatre back to life through his work of gathering talent from all over the world to perform at BAM. Many say that without Harvey, there would be no Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music was founded in 1861 and is hailed as the country’s oldest continuously operating performing arts center. BAM is now recognized around the world as a progressive cultural center. Annually, more than 775,000 people attend performances and festivals that take place at BAM throughout the year. Performances range from film and theatre to poetry recitations and dance performances.

Starting as a dancer in the 1950’s, Lichtenstein went on to become subscriptions manager for the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera. He joined BAM in 1967 and continued his work until his retirement in 1999. Throughout his campaign as President, he revitalized the program from renovating the building itself to the range of performances. He oversaw the creation of the Next Wave Festival in 1983, which to this day is noted as creating a cultural landscape for BAM.

Harvey is most notably known for finding artists such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Alice in Chains, Peter Brook and Pina Bausch.

Upon his retirement in 1999, Lichtenstein was awarded for his hard ground-breaking work by having the BAM theatre named after him. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton, and the Handel Medallion, New York City’s highest award for achievement in the arts.

After his retirement, Lichtenstein did anything but fully retire. He served as BAM’s Local Development Corporation with his plans to revive the neighborhood of Fort Greene. His dream of reviving the neighborhood has been realized as the construction of the Mark Morris Dance Center, Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center and the BAM Fisher Building have all been built under his direction. Fort Greene is recognized as a vibrant, established arts destination.

For more information and if you would like to donate to the Harvey Fund please visit,

Erik Satie

Today Erik Satie is recognized as one of the best French composers. Historians believe that his work influenced various movements such as Surrealism and minimalism. Keep reading to learn more about this famous composer.

Early Life

Erik Satie was born on May 17, 1866, in Honfleur, France. Satie’s family moved to Paris when he was four years old; however, he returned to Honfleur after his mother died when he was six. He and his brother, Conrad, lived with their grandparents. During this time Satie began his first music lessons. After Satie’s grandmother died he and his brother returned to their father in Paris. At this point, Satie was 12 years old. Satie’s father eventually remarried a piano teacher. A year after returning to Paris, Satie gained admission to the Paris Conservatory. However, his teachers were unimpressed with his piano playing, so he had to leave the conservatory. He returned to the conservatory when he was 19, but still, he didn’t have any success. Although Satie’s teachers dismissed his playing ability, they did acknowledge that he had a talent for composition.

Publishing Career

In 1887 Satie moved to Montmartre and shortly after published his first compositions. While living in Montmartre, he met Claude Debussy. Later in Satie’s life, Debussy would take his Gymnopédies and transform them into orchestral works to help earn Satie recognition and money.

Cabaret and School

Satie began to work as a cabaret pianist in 1899. He didn’t particularly enjoy the music he played, but it was a steady source of income. Satie returned to school in 1905 to study counterpoint. The move surprised many of Satie’s friends, but he continued his studies for five years.


Over time many of Satie’s older pieces became popular. However, people tended to not pay as much attention to his newer work. As a result, Satie sought out younger artists who would appreciate his newer pieces. One such artist, Jean Cocteau, brought him into contact with artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Starting in 1919, Satie associated with the founder of Dada, Tristan Tzara and André Breton, the founder of Surrealism.

Final Years

Satie drank heavily throughout his life. This habit contributed to his death on July 1, 1925, at the age of 59. While alive Satie supposedly never had any of his friends visit his apartment. After he died his friends discovered numerous unpublished compositions as well as compositions that Satie thought he had lost.

Filmmaker’s Film: Vertigo

By Susan

“Here I was born, and there I died.”: The Vertigo Effect screens at BAM Apr 16—30.
Photo: Paramount Pictures/Photofest

By C. Mason Wells

In 1958, Alfred Hitchcock’s 45th feature Vertigo was released to largely mixed reviews. This story of acrophobic San Francisco detective Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) hired to trail mysterious blonde Madeleine (Kim Novak) was tagged “basically only a psychological murder mystery” by Variety. Writers ranging from the Young Turks of Cahiers du Cinéma to Andrew Sarris to James Wood had begun to make the case for Hitchcock as a consummate film artist during the 1960s, but critical consensus took far longer; Vertigo failed to place in Sight and Sound’s once-a-decade critics’ poll until 1982. In 2012, it climbed to the number one slot and the title of Best Film of All Time, knocking Citizen Kane (1941) from its 50-year reign atop the belltower.

But if critics have largely been slow to come to Vertigo‘s greatness, filmmakers were quick to see its many virtues. Only four years later, Chris Marker’s sci-fi short La Jetée (1962) appeared, littered with teasing, reverential nods to Hitchcock’s film. By the end of the ’60s, its influence was already becoming …read more

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20 years of BAM Design Celebrated over 100 Days


by Clara Cornelius

The BAM look is identifiable anywhere. As the Creative Director at BAM, I find myself talking to a lot of people about our identity. A friend recently described it as “all cut off and hard to read, but, like, in good way.” Similarly, most people who I talk to about BAM’s design say they recognize it when they see it, that it’s “all chopped up” and they “like how it’s hard to read.”

Our visual identity was created in 1995 by Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram. He was tasked with creating a cohesive graphic identity for the Next Wave Festival, which went on to define the design for BAM as a whole. The core of the concept, from Bierut himself:

Fragments of News Gothic type obscured behind wide stripes became the basis of the Next Wave look, used on all festival posters, advertisements, invitations, and brochures. Practically, this design system allows for the use of very large type, even in cramped applications such as newspaper advertisements. More poetically, the use of type stepping from behind horizontal lines suggests the next big thing coming over the horizon.

I’ve seen the design evolve and grow beyond the benchmarks of …read more

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In Context: Ghosts


Uncouth family relations. Malicious infections. Upended Victorian mores. Considered shockingly indecent when it premiered in 1882, Ghosts haunts the BAM Harvey Theater April 5—May 3. 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.

Program Notes

Ghosts (PDF)


Haunting Ghosts (BAM blog)
Alicia Dhyana House traces Ibsen’s trajectory from radical Norwegian playwright to the “Father of Modern Drama.”

Study Guide
Ghosts (BAM Education)
With a wealth of background information, this guide created for our high school audiences will also help adults engage more deeply with the production.


Ibsen and Munch—What’s the Connection? (BAM blog)
Besides being giants of Norwegian culture, Ibsen and Munch shared a psychologically-rigorous, aesthetically-exacting artistic practice.

Lesley Manville as the Unhappy Heroine of ‘Ghosts’ (The New York Times)
Learn why the Ghosts star “is willing to embark upon paths many an actor would balk at.”

In the Spirit of Ibsen (The Guardian)
Director Richard …read more

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A new look for “BAM This Week”


We heard you loud and clear. Your lives are busy and it’s not that you don’t want more film, theater, music, dance, and opera in your lives—it’s just hard to schedule it all.

Enter the updated BAM This Week. Our weekly newsletter has a new clean look with day-by-day selected highlights of what’s going on here over the next seven days. We hope you like the new format, and welcome your feedback in the comment section below.

Now, for the changes:

Wednesday is the new Thursday

We’ve sent out our weekly newsletter on Thursdays for over a decade now. But if you’re anything like us, you start thinking about and planning your weekend around mid-week, so we’ve pushed the send date to Wednesdays. BAM This Week now covers events taking place Thursday through the following Wednesday and will arrive in your inbox every hump day.

One day at a time

BAM is open 365 days a year, and there is always something to do here. We send you emails focusing on specific events and performances, but recognize that sometimes you just want to figure out something to do in the days ahead. So we’ve organized the newsletter by day of the week, with a …read more

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Connecting Through Dance

By Susan

Mark Morris leads a workshop in Cambodia. Photo: Johan Henckens

By R. Michael Blanco

One pilot year and four seasons later, DanceMotion USASM (DMUSA)—the US State Department’s cultural diplomacy program produced by BAM—continues to work its magic around the globe. By the end of 2016, the program will have sent 20 dance companies to 47 countries, reaching more than 100,000 people directly in workshops and performances and over 20 million people through digital platforms and social media.

Conceived in 2009 by BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo in response to a Department of State request for proposals, DMUSA brings its extensive network of national and international dance contacts to work with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in choosing dance companies to send on missions of cultural exchange throughout the world.

Flooring, awaiting installation in Cambodia.
Photo: Johan Henckens

Late last year, Mark Morris Dance Group was sent on one such mission, to boldly go where they, in fact, had gone before. But this time, they not only immersed themselves in the fertile field of traditional Khmer dance in Cambodia, they also left behind some practical know-how.

In a four-day session of …read more

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Richard Eyre’s Notes on Ghosts

By Chris

Lesley Manville in Ghosts. Original photo: Hugo Glendinning
Ibsen said of Ghosts (coming to the BAM Harvey Theater April 5—May 3) that “in none of my plays is the author so completely absent as in this last one.” Nine years later, when he was 61, Ibsen met an 18-year-old Viennese girl and fell in love. She asked him to live with her; he at first agreed but, crippled by guilt and fear of scandal (and perhaps impotence as well), he put an end to the relationship. Emilie became the “May sun of a September life” and the inspiration for the character of Hedda Gabler, even if Ibsen himself contributed many of her characteristics with his fear of ridicule, his apparent repulsion with the reality of sex, and his yearning for emotional freedom.

Perhaps his disavowal of authorial presence in Ghosts was a little disingenuous. When he was working on the play he wrote this to a friend:

“Everything that I have written is most minutely connected with what I have lived through, if not personally experienced…for every man shares the responsibility and the guilt of the society to which he belongs. To live is to war with trolls …read more

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Space is the Place: Afofuturist Music Videos

By Chris

By Ashley Clark

The term “Afrofuturism” was coined by cultural theorist Mark Dery in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future.” While championing the work of pioneering African-American authors of speculative fiction including Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany, Dery expressed surprise at the relative lack of African-American sci-fi literature. This absence was curious, he said, because “African-Americans, in a very real sense, are the descendants of alien abductees; they inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done; and technology is too often brought to bear on black bodies.”

In the time since Dery’s initial usage of the term, however, Afrofuturism has come to represent both an amorphous multimedia aesthetic, and a useful framework for critical theory applicable to creative work concerned with imagined and alternate black experiences. Encapsulating the concept’s scope, author Ytasha Womack writes: “Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.”

One of the key figures in heralding the resurgence of Afrofuturist aesthetics is the “Archandroid” Janelle Monae, though there is a strong lineage of musical Afrofuturism, including—but not limited …read more

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Rethinking Robeson

By Susan

Daniel Beaty. Photo: Don Ipock

By Brian Scott Lipton

Tackling Paul Robeson’s tumultuous life story in one theatrical show is a monumental endeavor. Nonetheless, this Herculean undertaking has been taken on by two of America’s most gifted theater artists, writer-performer Daniel Beaty and director and Tectonic Theater Project co-founder Moisés Kaufman, in The Tallest Tree in the Forest, which receives its long-awaited New York premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater, March 22 to 28. (The show has played previous theatrical engagements in Washington, DC; Kansas City; La Jolla; and Los Angeles.)

Indeed, Robeson, who died in 1976 at age 77, can hardly be defined by any one description or any one accomplishment. This extraordinary African-American, born at the end of the 19th century, was a true groundbreaker—a son of a former slave who went from being valedictorian of his class at Rutgers University to a member of the National Football League, a Shakespearean actor on Broadway, a movie star, an internationally acclaimed singer, and a revered political figure.

Yet Robeson was as much sinner as saint. Although married, Robeson was also a bit of a womanizer, whose lovers included his Othello co-star Uta Hagen. His politics were …read more

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