a new popular open-air concert hall

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The skaters did not seem phased by the Andalusian scene manifesting on stage by Rocky Market, barely stopping as they slid behind the flamenco dancer Melissa Cruz as she performed a series of percussive, clave-inflected foot maneuvers. The sold-out audience, however, was thrilled despite the sailboats crossing the estuary in the background and the magnificent view of San Francisco behind the Alameda skyline.

Even without artists pouring out their souls, Brooklyn Basin makes quite a first impression. As construction continues on the sprawling housing development along Oakland’s waterfront, located adjacent to the Jack London neighborhood, the park and adjacent open space surrounding the historic docks has become the venue this summer. most inviting air in East Bay. Still something of an Oakland secret, the concerts made the most of the mild weather and spectacular surroundings. Brooklyn Basin proves the saying: if you build it, they will come – artists, dancers, comedians, salseros and soneros, soul belters and Afrobeatizans, aspiring jazz cats and symphonic string players.

While Oakland native Corinne Kinczel describes herself as an avid live music enthusiast, she didn’t consider concerts as part of the mix when she opened Rocky’s Brooklyn Basin in fall 2020 as a marketplace. and takeaway restaurant. “It was not initially in the plan,” she said. “But because we have the space, I wanted to activate it.”

Working with her high school pal Bishop O’Dowd, former flamenco dancer Bernadette LaNoue, they began to figure out how to use the space. The growing pandemic quickly put an end to the initial effort to present music in October, and it wasn’t until April that they resumed.

“I reached out to Melissa Cruz, who is an amazing person and dancer,” said LaNoue, preschool teacher at Oakland Unified. “She’s also in three other bands as a drummer and she’s been able to attract a lot of amazing performers who have followers.”

Starting with Cruz, who features groups and a rotating cast of flamenco artists on Fridays, they’ve assembled a team of collaborators to blow up the space. Veteran actress, writer, dancer and comedian Holly Shaw brings in comedians on Saturdays.

Longtime Latin music champion Stephanie Eby and percussionists Robert Wallace and Javier Navarette performed Afrobeat, Brazilian and Cuban music on Sunday evening. While shows are paid for through Eventbrite or door admission, the outdoor setting allows passers-by to take a break and watch performances or casually pass by. Children 12 and under are free.

“On Sunday afternoon we did wine and jazz tastings, free shows for everyone,” Kinczel said. “The musicians are these amazing teens, and we give them a stipend. Adult performers sell their own tickets, and we usually sell out every weekend. “

Cellist Rebecca Roudman’s rock-grass band Dirty Cello performed one of the first concerts in May, and some of her fellow Oakland Symphony decided to visit the stage. Mieko Hatano, executive director of the Oakland Symphony, came to see the show and struck up a conversation with Kinczel and LaNoue.

“We made a connection and started talking about what they are planning for the space,” Hatano said. It was a direct line between this initial meeting and the four concerts of the Oakland Symphony Brooklyn Basin SummerStage Series, which features symphonic musicians in unique configurations performing a site-specific repertoire.

The free series will debut with a 35-piece chamber orchestra on August 19 Beethoven begins, which will be the first time that Michael Morgan conducts Beethoven’s play First Symphony. the opening of Rossini to The Barber of Seville and a symphony by the pioneering black composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges are also on the program.

The August 26 event includes a 16-piece brass ensemble, and on September 2, soprano and San Francisco Opera pillar Shawnette Sulker will join a collection of 19 symphonic musicians performing Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras n ° 5 and wind serenades by Mozart and Dvořák. The series ends on September 9 with an ensemble of 35 musicians performing the works of upstart teenagers, including the First Symphony by Felix Mendelssohn, 15, and the Bassoon Concerto by Mozart, 18 (with Deborah Kramer, the principal bassoonist of the Oakland Symphony).

The programs get the symphonic musicians back to work, “and from a practical point of view, it’s a warm-up for our big season in October,” Hatano said. “They went over 15 months without being able to play together.”

As parking is limited, Kinczel recommends carpooling or carpooling. “People can bring their own chairs and blankets, and seating will be provided,” Hatano added. “The market has prepared food. We are expecting 200-250 people. I want everyone to know that. It’s a really big and comfortable space.

Kinczel is committed to using the space as a cultural resource as long as the weather permits this year, but the current performance area may not be available in the future. The space next door is not yet rented, and there is no guarantee that a new tenant will be on board with performances taking place at their doorstep. “But I really hope whoever comes in sees this art scene and wants to continue it,” Kinczel said.

What makes Rocky’s Market’s performances an expression of Oakland at its best isn’t just the organic way it took shape or the welcoming vibe cultivated by LaNoue and Kinczel (including great-grandmother helped found the San Francisco Symphony). They both immediately recognized that the setting called for cultural communion, and they made a point of working with artists who share a multigenerational sensibility that embraces the past as well as the future. “It hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I saw it, and the sight never gets old,” LaNoue said. “The attraction of water gives me chills. There is something very special about it, and I take it so personally that these artists have the vision. You want to expose the youth and people of the community to this amazing art and take care to honor the ancestors.

Click on here for a schedule upcoming performances outside Rocky’s Market in Brooklyn Basin.

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