Last night thanks to two super sweet friends I was able to attend the world premiere of Sufjan Stevens "The BQE" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The 30 minute orchestral piece on the infamous roadway took Sufjan 9 months to complete and boy was it sweet. BAM's description of last nights event:
The BQE—a 30 minute symphonic and cinematic exploration of New York City’s infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the 11.7-mile roadway championed by Robert Moses and constructed beginning in the late 1930s.
Merging a virtual road trip (shot in 16mm film and Super 8) with an orchestral ensemble— accompanied by hula hoopers—The BQE uncovers abstract musical patterns in the snaking traffic, stunning city views, potholed pavement, billboards, historic landmarks, and badly marked exits. The evenings will also feature new songs by Stevens and orchestrated selections
from his previous albums.
The evening started with swirling arrangements from Sufjan, band, his orchestra, and a few happy go lucky performance artists in uniforms and goofy blonde wigs tossing and twirling and spinning neon hula hoops. All this was accompanied by hyper-speed video footage of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway fused with the music. Needless to say the crowd was smiling and chatty at intermission and no one could stop talking about the hula hoops (which were on sale in the lobby). While it was indeed exciting to be apart of the world premier of one of my favorite musicians new pieces, the real treat was the second act which saw Sufjan & Co. (including massive orchestra) "playing the hits", including songs from Seven Swans, Illinois, Michigan and last year's one off "Majesty Songbird." In all honesty it was one of the most beautiful hybrids of music, art, light, hula hoops I've ever seen. If you're lucky enough to have a ticket for tonight or tomorrow, hold it close to your heart. You're in for a treat. Take a peak at the digital version of the program, including Sufjan's phenomenal essay on the BQE and Hula Hoops, as well as a clip from one of last weeks rehearsals.
BAM's BQE Program with Sufjan essay
A Rehearsal of Movement 6 from the BQE