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The String Orchestra of Brooklyn

A collaborative ensemble of musicians brings the symphony to NYC parks

by Max Gold in Culture on 15 March 2012

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The String Orchestra of Brooklyn (SOB) is committed to an inclusive approach to music-making, opening up their expert ensemble to a range of site-specific musical experiments and collaborations with musicians from around the greater New York area. Due to the orchestra's smaller size and rotating cast of volunteer musicians, they are able to explore a more obscure repertoire and adapt to different venues. "What sets us apart from other orchestras is our versatility and willingness to try anything that's out there," explains executive director and founder Eli Spindel. "We have the flexibility to take risks and follow our musical curiosity wherever it might lead."

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In late 2011, the SOB collaborated with American Opera Projects, presenting Philip Glass' Kafka-based opera "In the Penal Colony". Many music lovers are familiar with Glass' magnificent "Satyagraha", but the SOB opted to bring the more obscure "Penal Colony" story to life instead, gaining the orchestra a spot on The New York Times' Best of 2011 list.

The SOB will again team up with The Fort Greene Park Conservancy for the annual Parks Concert Series where city-dwellers may escape to enjoy a free evening of music in Fort Greene Park. The 2012 lineup will feature works by Fela Sowande, Noel Pointer, and Beethoven, taking place on 21 July 2012 at 6 p.m. in Fort Greene Park.

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The SOB will also be collaborating with ISSUE Project Room on String Theories 2012. String Theories has commissioned four composers—Anthony Coleman, Eric Wubbels, Spencer Yeh, and MV Carbon—to create performances on a scale larger than what is typically possible. The composers push the boundaries of the string repertoire through extended techniques, innovations in notation and improvisation, and new approaches to writing for large ensembles. Specifically, each of the performances focuses on a playful awareness of the orchestra's physicality. "It will definitely get a bit rowdy," Spindel says. "The resulting musical textures will be new to much of our audience." String Theories 2012 will happen this Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 8pm in St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn.

Keep up with the orchestra's ever-changing repertoire and performance schedule on their blog.

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