Our artist community established BRM through our weekly concert series. From our humble beginnings in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, our collective grew and has created over 11 ensembles, has toured nationally and internationally, and hosts two major festivals a year.
True to our origin story, we present our beloved Weekly Concert Series 52 weeks of the year. These concerts are the cornerstone of BRM, serving as a gathering place for the artist community, an incubator for larger projects, and a highly-anticipated event that our regular audiences look forward to each week. Each week’s event begins with a performance curated by (and often featuring) BRM musicians, followed by an open jam session. Venues range from the Music Space at Branded Saloon to the Jalopy Theater.
The world-class musicians who make up the BRM “massive” compose and perform raga-inspired music in 11+ different ensembles. From our Coltrane Raga Tribute ensemble, which reflects the relationship between raga music and American jazz through the legacy of John and Alice Coltrane, to our acclaimed Women’s Raga Massive ensemble, our ensembles lead our mission to expand the raga music genre through inventive compositions of the highest caliber. Other notable BRM ensembles include our group dedicated to BRM’s rendition of American composer Terry Riley’s classic minimalist composition ‘In-C’; Raga Cubana, which has evolved through a musical exchange program between Havana and NYC; our co-ensemble with Go Organic Orchestra; Raga Maqam, and more.
While our Weekly Concert Series is a space for finding joy and building community through music, our ensemble concerts display our commitment to artistic excellence and extraordinary musicianship. Our ensembles have performed at venues such as Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, the Rubin Museum, Joe’s Pub, BlueNote, and Celebrate Brooklyn among others. Our ensembles have been joined at these concerts by guest artists such as jazz legend Hamid Drake, Grammy-Award nominees Innov Gnwawa, classical maestro Pandit Krishna Bhatt, klezmer and bluegrass legend Andy Statman, Cuban maestro Bobby Caracasses, and Native & African-American vocalist/songwriter/composer Martha Redbone.
Our two annual festivals serve as tentpole events that foster big, bold, innovative collaborations, and allow us to connect with and expand our audience base. The Women's Raga Massive Festival is an annual month-long festival exploring and making visible the diverse creative work of female-identified artists in a musical world where those voices are a minority. Like so much of history, Indian classical music has largely followed a patriarchal path. BRM is proud to be a leader in changing that reality within this generation of raga musicians. Now in its fourth year, the WRM Festival, led by our WRM Ensemble, creates a platform for conversations about what it means to be a female artist in America today. This festival has featured traditional raga, experimental performance, poetry, dance, panel discussion on social issues, and more at venues such as National Sawdust, Joe’s Pub, and the Rubin Museum.
Now in its 10th year, the Ragas Live Festival presents more than 60 artists over a period of 24 hours and regularly sees an attendance of over 700 audience members each year. The event takes place at Pioneerworks in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and is broadcast live on WKCR 89.9 FM-NY’s radio and online platforms for an international audience. Past featured artists include icons like 2020 NEA Jazz Master Reggie Workman and Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer. Due to COVID-19, our November 2020 Ragas Live Festival is currently being conceived and planned as a virtual event, with half of the sets filmed in advance at Pioneer Works, and half filmed in 10-12 different countries around the world. Then, in 2021, we are planning a family friendly, full weekend satellite presentation of the Live Festival at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY. Set on 350 acres of land in the Catskills with an outdoor stage for an audience of nearly 1,000, this expansion of the Ragas Live Festival will help us continue to grow our audience in a way that allows for social distancing if needed.
Our ensembles have toured nationally and internationally, including engagements at South by Southwest in Austin, Seattle Town Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Mondrian Jazz Festival in the Netherlands and the Trianon Theater in Havana, Cuba. In addition, some of our most exciting touring opportunities have been in partnership with renown collaborating musicians. For example, in 2021 we will partner with Adam Roudolph’s Go:Organic Orchestra to create a new project featuring 40 musicians, and tour to the Flynn Center in Vermont, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the Detroit Festival of Colors.