Five Boroughs Music Festival presents the Queens premiere of a new collection of songs that celebrate the Big Apple; Five Borough Songbook, Volume II is an exciting array of New York City pieces written by 20 wonderful Composers. Join us on Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 PM for a concert, preceded by a 2:00 PM discussion with several of the creators.
Baritone Jesse Blumberg, who founded Five Boroughs Music Festival and serves as its Artistic Director, told us about what’s in store, and about 5BMF’s history.
What is Five Boroughs Music Festival and what is your role?
5BMF is a year-round concert series, focused on bringing world-class chamber music to every corner of NYC. I, as Artistic Director, work alongside our Executive Director, and my great friend of nearly 20 years, Donna Breitzer, to curate engaging and varied programming every season. This is our 10th Season now, and we feel very proud to have presented almost 50 different musical programs over 10 citywide journeys.
Why was 5BMF founded?
In 2007, I started thinking about all of the artists, performers, arts supporters, and culture consumers who were living, increasingly, outside of Manhattan. But at least in terms of classical music, an overwhelmingly large proportion of performances were still being presented in Manhattan. We decided we wanted to bring music to more neighborhoods, all around the city. So that became a twofold mission of sorts – to build artistic relationships with communities in all five boroughs, and to foster an adventurous concert-going audience that would follow our programs and learn more about their city alongside us.
What has 5BMF’s relationship to Flushing Town Hall been? How many times has 5BMF performed at Flushing Town Hall before?
Since 5BMF is a movable musical feast, we don’t have any venues of our own. But we have always preferred to collaborate with arts organizations that are able to host performances, rather than to simply rent spaces. And Flushing Town Hall is one of our favorite partners in all of New York City; the diversity of its programming and the dedication of all its staff have been so helpful to us. At first we hesitated to have our Queens venues so far from other boroughs, but our love for Flushing Town Hall quickly quashed those fears! The upcoming Five Borough Songbook performance will be our 8th(!) program together, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
Tell us a little bit more about the upcoming concert and what makes it so unique.
The sheer volume and variety of it all!! Not to mention the “newness” of it, too. We commissioned 20 Composers to write one new song each, about absolutely anything in New York City. We told them there would be four singers, pianists, and a cellist, and then let them have at it. The “World Premiere” will happen in midtown on the evening of Feb. 11th, but Flushing audiences will be hearing the second performance ever of all 20 songs.
Where did the idea of the Five Borough Songbook come from?
In 2011, we wanted to do something special to commemorate our 5th Season of bringing chamber music concerts to neighborhoods all around the Big Apple. We invited 20 composers to choose texts and themes and stories, and create something inspired by their experience of New York City. An amazing variety of new works emerged, more multi-colored than we ever could have imagined. With 20 new composers now for our 10th Season’s “Volume II”, we are prepared for just as thrilling a journey as the original.
A celebration of everything we love about New York City. And perhaps a couple pokings of fun at some things that annoy us, too. Celebrations of great writers, iconic places, our rich cultural history, and new perspectives on lesser-known subjects as well. There’s something for everyone in our Five Borough Songbook; the composers are first-rate, the texts are wonderful, the performers are some of New York City’s very finest, and it promises to be an unmissable event!
You can learn more and purchase tickets here or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222. Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for FREE. Under the new “Teen Access Program”, all 13- to 19-year- old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.