Brooklyn Center opens its 2017-18
Kumble Theater season with
The Tierney Sutton Band
Sam Levenson Recital Hall
Beginning its life as a simple lecture classroom in lower-level of Gershwin Hall, and designated only as Room 092G. This classroom, because of its configuration with a lecture platform and stadium-type seating, was used more and more as a space for intimate music recitals and movie screenings but with none of the accoutrements of a dedicated performance space.
In 1984 the room was transformed into a full-fledged recital hall, a gift of the beloved humorist, author and sometimes-philosopher, Sam Levenson, a long-time Brooklyn Center subscriber and generous benefactor of the Performing Arts Center. This beautifully appointed recital hall boasted 150 new seats, still in stadium configuration, making for excellent, unobstructed sightlines for both music concerts, operas and motion pictures. Custom designed acoustic diffusion "clouds" in its ceiling made from hand-crafted teakwood provided excellent sonic clarity for the wide variety of events presented. Rich, earth-tone drapes adorned the side walls and a new hardwood floor was installed as well as color-coordinated isle rugs.
"Happiness is a by-product...you can't pursue it by yourself."
"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone"
-- Sam Levenson. 1911-1980
About this time the Levenson family also commissioned sculptor Giuseppe Gianguzzi to create a work for the new space that would capture the whimsical good humor that was the hallmark of the warm, sweet-natured Sam Levenson and which garnered the man such admiration throughout his life. The statue also reflects his love of music as the likeness depicts him holding his violin in his left hand.
Done in strikingly beautiful Portuguese pink polished marble, we see the subject in a life-size, waist-length pose, head tilted slightly to the right resting on his hand, arm resting on a pillar and with a mischievous grin lighting up his face. Sam sits in a place of honor, a special niche in the corner of the room to the left of the entrance doors, watching, as it were, every performance from his perch in the rear orchestra. This really is quite a magnificent work that gives the room warmth and character.
In the course of one season, over a hundred and fifty performances ranging from chamber music to jazz to cutting-edge electronic music were presented in this space -- many of them were free. Since its doors opened, the Levenson Recital Hall was used almost on a daily basis for guest lectures, children's performances, multi-media with a large screen for video and motion picture screenings.
In 2005 upgrades were installed including a digitally controlled lighting system designed by our resident Lighting Designer, Steve Bailey; it affords the space dramatic lighting effects befitting a performance hall that hosts such a wide variety of events.
In addition to being the primary performance space for the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, The Sam Levenson Recital Hall has also been the home of the Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts, Brooklyn College's award-winning teaching arm which provides children and young adults with a unique, nurturing environment where children can develop a life-long love for music, theater, and dance, along with the skills that help promote confidence and self-esteem.
It also should be mentioned that the world renown Biannual International Electroacoustic Music Festival which brought composers from all parts of the globe to perform in this highly regarded showcase, chose the Recital Hall as its preferred performance space. A state-of-the-art 8 channel surround sound system was installed for its bi-annualthree day concert event. The Festival's Director George (Skip) Brunner is particularly fond of the Sam Levenson performance space because of its warmth and excellent acoustics.
The Center will always be grateful to the Levenson family for their generous support over many years and for the initiative they took which made this very special performance space a reality.
Demolition of the Gershwin wing which includes the Gershwin Theatre, the Sam Levenson Theatre and the Performing Arts Administrative Offices is underway so please excuse our somewhat disheveled appearance during the construction period.