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Brooklyn Academy of Music

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Title: Brooklyn Academy of Music  
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Subject: Culture of Brooklyn, Ronald Jones (interdisciplinarian), Sharon Van Etten, David Gordon (choreographer), Nixon in China
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Brooklyn Academy of Music

Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building (2013)
Address 30 Lafayette Avenue (Peter Jay Sharp)
651 Fulton Street (Harvey)
321 Ashland Place (Fisher)
Location Brooklyn, New York
Type Performing arts center
Capacity Howard Gilman Opera House: 2,109
Lepercq Space:350
Harvey Theater: 874
Fishman Space: 250
Built 1908
Opened 1908


Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Brooklyn Academy of Music is located in New York City
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Location 30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, New York City
Architect Herts & Tallant
Architectural style Renaissance Revival[1]
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 06000251[2]
Added to NRHP May 2, 2006

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is a major performing arts venue in Brooklyn, New York City, known as a center for progressive and avant garde performance. It presented its first performance in 1861 and began operations in its present location in 1908.

Today, BAM has a reputation as a leader in presenting "cutting edge" performance and has grown into an urban arts center which focuses on both international arts presentation and local community needs. Its purpose is to provide an environment in which its audiences – annually, more than 550,000 people – can experience a broad array of aesthetic and cultural programs. BAM has been headed by Karen Brooks Hopkins, President, and Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer, for over 25 years.


The entrance to the BAM Harvey, formerly the Majestic Theatre, built in 1903 and renovated in 1987
The BAM Fisher Building opened in 2012


19th and early 20th centuries

Founded in 1861, the first BAM facility at 176-194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was conceived as the home of the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. The building, designed by architect Leopold Eidlitz, housed a large theater seating 2,200, a smaller concert hall, dressing and chorus rooms, and a vast "baronial" kitchen. BAM presented amateur and professional music and theater productions, including performers such as Ellen Terry, Edwin Booth, Tomas Salvini, and Fritz Kreisler.

After the building burned to the ground on November 30, 1903, plans were made to relocate to a new facility in the then fashionable neighborhood of Fort Greene. The cornerstone was laid at 30 Lafayette Avenue in 1906 and a series of opening events were held in the fall of 1908 culminating with a grand gala evening featuring Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso in a Metropolitan Opera production of Charles Gounod's Faust. The Met would continue to present seasons in Brooklyn, featuring star singers such as Caruso, right through until 1921.

The new building is adjacent to downtown Brooklyn, near the Atlantic Terminal of the Long Island Rail Road and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, once the tallest building in Brooklyn.


In 1967 Harvey Lichtenstein was appointed executive director and during the 32 years that Lichtenstein was BAM's leader, BAM experienced a renaissance. BAM is now recognized internationally as a progressive cultural center well known for The Next Wave Festival (started in 1983). Artists who have presented their works there include Philip Glass, Peter Brook, Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, Lee Breuer, ETHEL, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Steve Reich, Seal, Alice in Chains, Robert Wilson, BLACKstreet, Ingmar Bergman, The Whirling Dervishes and the Kirov Opera directed and conducted by Valery Gergiev among others. Lichtenstein gave a home to the Chelsea Theater Center, in residence from 1967-1977.

BAM is currently under the leadership of President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo.


BAM's Peter Jay Sharp Building houses the Howard Gilman Opera House and the BAM Rose Cinemas. It was designed by the firm Herts & Tallant in 1908. It is a "U" shaped building with an open court in the center of the lot between two theater wings above the first story. It measures 190 feet along Lafayette Avenue, 200 feet deep, and 70 feet high. The building has a high base of gray granite with cream colored brick trimmed in terra cotta with some marble detail above. It is located within the Fort Greene Historic District.[3]

Performance facilities

BAM's facilities include:

In the Peter Jay Sharp Building, at 30 Lafayette Avenue:

  • Howard Gilman Opera House, with 2,109 seats.
  • Rose Cinemas (formerly the Carey Playhouse) opened in 1997, allowing Brooklynites the chance to see more art films without having to go to Manhattan.
  • Lepercq Space, originally BAM's ballroom, now a flexible event space and home to receptions, rentals, and BAMcafé. BAMcafé is open for dinner on nights when there is a performance in the Opera House. BAMcafé Live is a free series of live music performances on select Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Hillman Attic Studio, a flexible rehearsal/performing space

In the BAM Harvey building, at 651 Fulton Street:

  • Harvey Theater, with 874 seats, formerly known as the Majestic Theater, named in Lichtenstein's honor in 1999. A renovation by architect Hugh Hardy left the interior unpainted and with often exposed stonework, giving theater a unique feel of a "modern ruin". In April 2014, CNN named the BAM Harvey as one of the "15 of the World's Most Spectacular Theaters." [4]

In the Fisher Building, 321 Ashland Place:

  • BAM Fishman Space, a 250-seat black-box theater
  • BAM Fisher Hillman Studio, a flexible rehearsal and performance space

The BAM Sharp and Fisher Buildings are located within the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District created by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1978; the BAM Harvey is not.[5]

See also



  1. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.243
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  3. ^ Kathy Howe (September 1996). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Brooklyn Academy of Music".  
  4. ^
  5. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission "Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District Designation Report" (September 26, 1978)

External links

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music on
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music on

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