Get your Phil: Philharmonic festival comes to Brooklyn

Get your Phil: Philharmonic festival comes to Brooklyn
Sarah Small

They’re unstarching their tuxes!

The New York Philharmonic will slip into its skinny jeans this month, stretching across the East River to bring the hippest parts of its biennial music festival to Williamsburg. Starting on May 24, the “New York Phil Biennial” will present a chorus of new music debuts at venue National Sawdust. The event’s director says that classical music aficionados have finally realized that Brooklyn is the place to be.

“It’s a hotbed for new music,” said Alan Gilbert, the musical director of the three-week extravaganza.

This is the Biennial’s second incarnation — and its first in the Borough of Kings. More than a half dozen events will take place at the former sawdust factory, including a performance by Kings County’s eponymous string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

The June 3 concert by Brooklyn Rider will feature music inspired by the flourishing music scene in downtown New York City. One of the works, “The Alchemist,” written by avant-garde composer John Zorn, will mimic a trip through an alchemist’s laboratory — an experimental composition that draws from the past as well as Brooklyn’s current weird art scene, according to one Rider.

“It’s this amazing sort of representation of what was going on in the 1970s and celebrating the fact that that’s going on in Brooklyn these days,” said Colin Jacobsen, a Windsor Terrace violinist.

The Philharmonic fest will also tap into Brooklyn’s love affair with computer-generated music by sponsoring a sub-festival at National Sawdust — the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival from June 5 to 7.

The three-day celebration will feature several concerts with live electronics, laptop orchestras, video and multimedia works, and sound installations.

One of the highlights will be the “Scheherazade Project” by modern string group PubliQuartet, visual artist Amy Khoshbin, and indie-rock duo Hollands. The trio will perform a hodge-podge of rock ’n’ roll, classical music, folk songs, improvisation, live storytelling, and video projections.

Gilbert hopes music fans will walk away from the festival with an appreciation of what’s happening in music right now.

“We’re trying to present a snapshot of what we find exciting in the world of contemporary music,” he said.

New York Philharmonic Biennial at National Sawdust (80 N. Sixth St. at Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, www.nyphil.org/biennial). May 23–June 11. “Brooklyn Rider: NYC’s Downtown Music Scene” June 3 at 7 pm. $25. New York City Electroacoustic Festival, June 5–7.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill