The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival kicked off with performances by Lake Street Dive on Wednesday night, June 7, marking the 39th anniversary of a concert series that brings the entire borough together.
A typically free summer-long experience which started at the Prospect Park Bandshell in 1979, the series’s goal, according to BRIC, was always to “enhance our quality of life and understanding of the world by illuminating the vibrant cultures that make our borough so unique.”
At a time when the Prospect Park Bandshell was broken down and concerts at night were not a popular idea, the first-ever festival featured jazz performances and dance choreographers. Today, the festival has added multiple film projects and virtual reality experiences to its concert repertoire, and BRIC committed on its website “to use artistic platforms to reaffirm the very basis of what Brooklyn and America is—a welcoming supercollider of ideas and cultures, informing and enriching each other.”
In fact, the festival’s success can also be traced from the latest renovation of the Prospect Park Bandshell in 1998, under the auspices of the Prospect Park Alliance. Previously, the Bandshell did not have the renovated backstage, viewing opportunity, drainage, or facilities allowing for film and dance performances or concerts in inclement weather.
At the time, the $3 million necessary to upgrade the Bandshell allocated by the Office of the Borough President. In the past theater and spoken word performances were presented in addition to world music by what was new management, focused on presenting combinations of local and international talent.
The first dance performance this year, on June 30 at 8 p.m., will be a fusion of modern, ballet and Afro-Caribbean dance styles by the Garth Fagan Dance Company, having an anniversary of its own in its 45th season. Famed American dance troupe Pilobolus, known for its originality in movement, will follow that performance in July.
In fact, artists of all kinds can be found at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! festival — even experimental and popular local groups. This year, the experimental rock trio Yeasayer will make their debut.
Also this year, notable projects include original scores to film screenings, like the one jazz up-and-comer Jason Moran wrote for the movie “Selma” made in 2014. That will be screened August 10 at 7:30 p.m. with the help of Brooklyn United Marching Band and the Wordless Music Orchestra.