Get your Phil! Brooklyn’s orchestra is back — with some big names

Laurie Sparham / Touchstone Pictures

The Brooklyn Philharmonic is back — but don’t expect a stuffy old classical outfit.

This season finds the orchestra joined by such big names as Mos Def, David T. Little and Sufjan Stevens, as it performs all over the borough, from Brighton Beach to Downtown to Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The packed season is also a far cry from when the formerly cash-strapped orchestra was canceling shows in 2009 and 2010 and laying off musicians.

“It’s a pretty thorough reboot,” said new artistic director Alan Pierson, who took over conducting and programming duties from Michael Christie earlier this year. “I came in at a time when the orchestra was not doing concerts, really.”

Thanks to the help of several foundations and the City Council, which rallied behind the orchestra and saved the 2011 season, the upcoming shows are an ode to the borough as the Philharmonic explores three distinct neighborhoods, starting with Brighton Beach on Nov. 3 at the Millennium Theater. In a nod to the neighborhood’s Ruskie character, the orchestra will accompany rare Russian cartoons with scores by Shostakovich and Vyacheslav Artyomov.

That’s followed by the Philharmonic’s Downtown series on March 23 and 24 at new Atlantic Avenue venue Roulette. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus will be in tow for the premiere of a David T. Little choral work “Winter Scene,” based on Francis Guy’s 1820 painting “Winter Scene in Brooklyn,” which currently hangs in the Brooklyn Museum.

The Downtown series also features the world premiere of Sarah Kirklan Snider’s new choral work inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge, and excerpts from Stevens’s “BQE” piece.

Then it’s on to the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza on June 9, where neighborhood native Mos Def will perform to an arrangement of his work.

“Hip hop was nothing that I was all that familiar with, and as I got to know his repertoire, I learned how exciting and fresh and original his stuff is,” said Pierson, who’ll also conduct the hip hop star in a free preview concert on Oct. 8. “He’s very creative and full of ideas for this.”

The June 9 show will feature one classical concession — the finale of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the “Eroica” — but remixed.

For info, visit www.bphil.org or call (646) 397-2765.

Brooklyn Philharmonic Artistic Director Alan Pierson has announced the orchestra's new season, and it includes such big names as Mos Def (below).
Photo by Cory Weaver