Classical Music Responding to Culture

Music, like all other art forms, is an expression of the society in which it was created. The urge to make music is organic, mysterious and at the same time, dependable. Music simply occurs. Mothers hum to their babies or sing sweet lullabies and one reason we love birds so much is because they sing to us.

Music is a language and all living creatures actually speak to each other one way or another, clearly humans have the most capacity to express ourselves in complex ways. The oldest instrument, ever discovered was fashioned over 67,000 years ago and is a flute carved out of bone. I can’t help but be amazed at the thought that someone, long, long ago was compelled to create an object that would simply make beautiful sounds. Why did they do it, and then again, of course, because they had to!

Classical Music originated in Western society and encompasses early liturgical music through the Classical Period and onward to contemporary classical music which includes Gershwin and Jazz, all of which reflects the cultural norms and attitudes of social identity.

Music from the Renaissance moved away from the strictly religious, becoming secular and innovative to reflect original concepts about the universe and our place within it.

During the Baroque Period, a new musical system was invented, developing major and minor keys. Socially, the world was discovering science and exploring creative endeavor and expression. With the progression of time, each period produces music that synthesizes the inner and outer reach of humans trying to explain ourselves.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a court musician and composer and his music was influenced by a concept of order and elegance that reflected the ideals of kings who aspired to a sort of celestial perfection.

In the Romantic period, from the late 19th till early 20th century, music became emotional, more personal and as all creative developments, made a point of breaking with tradition and inventing new methods of expression.

Modern Classical music is inventive and original, breaking all previous norms, and reflecting the way in which humans strive and do, express ourselves creatively.

New Year, New Dance Studio

A Place For Movement: New Dance Studio Openings
The world of dance is a fascinating blend of creative minds striving to create artful movements with their bodies as the tools and the music as the canvas. The mind of every motion artist is fueled by the intense focus from the inner athlete to move swifter, jump higher, become stronger, and descend slower. It’s the meeting of these two totally different parts of the mind that form the mind of a dancer. Because of the combination of these unique elements, traditional paint studios and gyms can never truly satisfy the needs of a dancer and so the dance studio was born. Dance studios are specifically designed to sharpen the physical and mental abilities each individual dance requires and are an absolute necessity for any movement art form.

Dancing, because of its requirement for focus and attention to detail creates a hardened artist whose confidence flourishes with every technique learned. Dancing is a great way to help children and adults alike build confidence within themselves to help them face everyday life. A dance studio is a place of learning where people of all ages can come to learn new skills and because of the increasing popularity of dance programs on television, more are opening up every day. Here are two new dance studios that have opened their doors this year.

Illusion Dance Company
Located in Great Falls, Montana, Illusion Dance Company is a new company started by the young Megan Gray at just 23 years old. With a passion for dance and teaching it to others, Gray taught dance at a previous studio for many years. With the closing of a local video shop, Gray saw the potential of the space to transform it into her dream studio where she can pass her knowledge onto the next generation. Illusion Dance Company is located at the address: 11 Division Rd #7, Great Falls, MT 59404

Urban Dance Productions
Ben Madrigal, the creative director of Urban Dance Productions began dancing at age seven. Initially resisting the classes, Ben soon found himself pulled into the world of dance. His change of heart towards dancing made him realize that lack of males in the field and offers free dance classes for boys for an extended period of time. Urban Dance Productions can be found at the address: 2423 Coon Rapids Blvd., Suite B.

Dance is a great confidence builder and wonderful self-expression tool. Sign up today!


BAM’s 10 Things You Should Know About Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton Society image Pedro J Torres BlogBrooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) recently celebrated the legacy and centennial birthday of American Catholic writer and mystic, Thomas Merton.  Known for writing over 70 books, Merton mostly focused on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism. Among his most enduring works is his bestselling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), which sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the US. It was also featured in National Review’s list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century.

During the highly anticipated production of Charles Mee and Les Waters’ The Glory of the World (Jan. 16 – Feb. 6 at the BAM Harvey Theater), illustrator Nathan Gelgud created a list of ten things everyone ought to know about this renowned mystic and Catholic monk. Although this blog post doesn’t include Gelgud’s colorful illustrations, it does draw from his list and reemphasizes the Top 10 Things You Should Know About Thomas Merton:

1. The Pope Loves Him. Media darlings and beloved  new Pope Francis recently called Merton one of the four most exemplary Americans in history, along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Dorothy Day.

2. In Some Places He’s As Important as Muhammad Ali. In Louisville, a new bridge was almost named after Merton, who lived in an Abbey there as a Trappist monk, another top contender for the bridge namesake was hometown hero Muhammad Ali, one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century. The bridge was eventually named after Abraham Lincoln.

Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama Pedro J Torres Blog3. He Was Late To The Game. Merton wasn’t even baptised until he was 23 years old, and his first application for priesthood was rejected because he was honest about his youth, including heavy drinking and sexual promiscuity.

4. He Made Zines. In the mid-sixties, while living in a monastery, Merton put together a little poetry magazine called “Monk’s Pond.” Folded and stapled, it was printed on cheap paper for contributors and their friends.

5. Merton and Jack Kerouac Were A lot Alike. Having studied at Columbia where they were both students of Mark Van Doren and were influenced by James Joyce and William Blake. Merton was born in France, and Kerouac was French Canadian. They both wrote by rolling a long scroll into a typewriter. And, they were both Catholic while sharing a strong interest in Eastern religion, which brings us to our next point…

6. He Was Ahead of the Curve on Zen. Long before people in the West were “finding their zen” at spas and meditation retreats, Merton was interested in eastern philosophies and religions, and published “Zen and The Birds of Appetite,” a series of conversations with renowned zen scholar, D.T. Suzuki.

7. Merton and Joan Baez Hung Out Together. Baez once said, “He was a true man, with a lightness like the Dalai Lama, with all the depth anyone could have.”

8. He Was Either Blessed, Cursed, or Both. Merton died 27 years to the day after joining the Trappists at age 27, and it was pretty weird. After giving a lecture in Thailand about Monasticism and Marxism, he slipped in the shower, grabbed a rotary fan, and was electrocuted.

Merton Conference LOGO Living the Legacy Pedro J Torres Blog9. His Legacy Helps Prisoners. The International Thomas Merton Society has 43 chapters, one of which was founded in 2013 at a prison in Massachusetts where inmates use Merton’s writings to deal with incarceration. (One inmate read Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation” out of the window of his cell to other inmates while in solitary confinement.)

10. Thomas Merton Kept it Real. In his spiritual quest, Merton believed that answering a higher calling meant being true to yourself. Unlike animals, we can fool ourselves into thinking we’re something we’re not. Human beings have a choice whether to be phony or honest, and to be true to God, we must first be true to ourselves.

To read the original article click here

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 3D

Starwars BAM Pedro J Torres blogOn Dec 17, 2015 the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will finally show the highly anticipated Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 3D, which is directed by J.J. Abrams.  According to the BAM website, J.J. Abrams’ highly-anticipated entry into the Star Wars franchise follows a host of new characters as they battle evil in a galaxy far, far away with the help of beloved icons Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and others.

The BAM will show the Star Wars film at two of their three locations: BAM Harvey Theater and BAM Rose Cinemas.  The BAM “Harvey” venue first opened in 1904 as the Majestic Theater, one of the many theaters in the bustling entertainment district. The Majestic showed a variety of dramas, light opera, musicals, and vaudeville, with stars such as Katherine Cornell, and it became an important trial theater for productions headed to Broadway, including Noel Coward’s Home Chat.  BAM Rose Cinemas, on the other hand, was originally a music hall, then converted to a playhouse, the venue was transformed into BAM Rose Cinemas in 1998, restoring the playhouse’s elegant proscenium and preserving the history of the space while providing a state-of-the-art viewing experience.

According to one credible source, the new Star Wars movie was filmed on actual film stock. Mostly in 35mm, with some in scenes in 65mm IMAX. (Source: Cineflex – April 2014)  This article about The Force Awakens using IMAX shows a Twitter photo from Abrams and comments on the fact that the IMAX scenes are not being shot with stereoscopic IMAX cameras. In fact, they have that photo in the article: Star Wars 7 IMAX: J.J. Abrams Shooting Sequel in IMAX Format 

Buy tickets to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 3D at the BAM here

Venezuela: Food Shortage & Social Unrest

food shortageAs more and more American health stores stock aisles with the latest gluten-free products, countless Venezuelans patiently wait in front of closed grocery stores, infuriated by the worsening shortages of food and other basic goods.

Today, supermarkets in Venezuela are guarded by military personnel and police officers, who keep an eye on the snaky lines and make sure customers enter the stores according to their ID numbers, as required by the government.  

“I can’t get milk for my child. What are we going to do?” said Leida Silva, 54, breaking into tears outside the Latino supermarket in northern Maracaibo, where she arrived at 3 a.m. on a recent day.  

A national survey from The Wall Street Journal found that 30 percent of Venezuelans were eating two or fewer meals a day. 

food shortageThe country’s unrest can be largely contributed to dramatically worsening living conditions as the economy reels from oil’s slump.  Fox News Latino reports, “This explains why the government simply doesn’t have the cash to import food, medicines and other basic products that citizens demand. As the oil prices keep plumbing, the economic situation hits harder and harder across the country.”  

Furthermore, the country’s increased military surveillance is a direct result from the massive anti-crime police operation referred to as, “Operation People’s Liberation (OLP)”.  OLP was ordered by Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro as an attempt to combat crime in Venezuela, which is believed to have one of Latin America’s highest rates of violence and criminal activity.  The soldiers had been deployed to stem rampant food smuggling and price speculation, which Maduro blames for triple-digit inflation and scarcity.

The Venezuelan government estimates that 40% of subsidized good are lost to smugglers.  It says the scarcity of staples such as corn flour, milk and basic cosmetic items is in large part due to this illegal trade.  Critics of Mr. Maduro’s government, however, argue that the scarcity is down to mismanagement.

“People are carrying everything they can,” said a weeping Virgelida Serrano, a 60-year-old seamstress who has lived in Venezuela for more than a decade. “We’re going to Colombia to see what help the government gives us.”

Uber vs Mayor De Blasio and New York


If you live in New York, you’ve likely seen an Uber ad attacking Mayor de Blasio.

De Blasio attempted to slow the rapid growth of the company. This proved to be a fool’s errand yesterday, when de Blasio announced that he will back down and not put a cap on the number of Uber vehicles on the road.

Uber has raised $5.9 billion dollars to date. This massive war chest allowed the company to hire some top political strategists. Both President Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, and Michael Bloomberg’s former press secretary were hired for Uber team’s fight for one of its most lucrative cities.

Plouffe met with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to discuss the situation. Uber officials were pleased with the meeting.

But Uber didn’t just play back room politics. Uber was going to start airing commercials against de Blasio’s campaign against the company. They even went so far as to add a de Blasio link on their app for New York customers. The de Blasio section had no cars available and information on how they could help.

Uber accused de Blasio of playing politics, but de Blasio and New York City Hall claim that Uber vehicles cause traffic and harm the environment because the increased number of cars on the road. Before Uber was popularized there were a limited number of taxi medallions available, meaning a limited number of taxis were on the road.

Uber may be right, there may be a political element de Blasio’s campaign. The taxi industry is being disrupted in a big way because of Uber and Lyft. Contributions were made to de Blasio by the taxi industry. De Blasio denies any political motive.

New tech companies like Uber don’t fit neatly into a polarizing political category. Which it was interesting to see Uber attack de Blasio from the left, saying he is not progressive enough. Uber claims to employ thousands and helps bring taxis to lower income neighborhoods where many taxi drivers won’t go.

This is Why Brooklyn is So Unique


Once upon a time it was Manhattan that people would look at for its eccentricities. Nowadays you walk up and down the streets and you’ll see more chain stores than you will boutiques, but Brooklyn has so far been able to hold out. Brooklyn is known for its expensive crafted, homemade, artesian anything. But the prices are a reaction to being slowly pushed out by gentrification. Here are some unique Brooklyn oddities you can only find here:

Subway Into The 19th Century

One of the most underrated museums of all five boroughs, the New York Transit Museum, allows you to see what it used to be like to ride a subway. The entire experience from beginning to end makes you feel like you traveled through time. Learn all about the best public transportation in the world.

Romantic Boat Ride Through Sewage

Don’t pitch this as a first date, definitely get a feel for his or her tolerance for experiencing new smells. Though you assuredly don’t want to fall in, it is actually a nice, relaxing experience. In a toxic canal through one of the largest cities in the world is not where you expect to see beautiful landscapes full of wildlife but there it is for you daring travelers.

A Building Older Than Any Other

There is a lot of old stuff in New York. It was one of the first cities in the New World and of all the old things only one can be the oldest. The oldest standing building in New York was built in 1637 by The Wycoff family. It now serves as a museum.

Just A Weird Museum

The City Reliquary is plain unique and worth the visit. It is a small unassuming museum in Williamsburg which was quirky itself until last year. It’s hard to explain just check it out!

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

Source:: Bam News:

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

Source:: Bam News:

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

Source:: Bam News: