What to Know
- Popular classical concert series “The Angel’s Share” returns to the Catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery from September 24 to October 10
- Guests participate in a whiskey tasting, candlelit procession to the catacombs and an intimate concert of "heartbreakingly beautiful" music
- Although the environment is encapsulated by death, the curator said there is no better place to celebrate the importance and beauty of life
Deep in the Catacombs of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, down a long, candlelit corridor marked with names of the deceased, popular classical concert series “The Angel’s Share” is bringing new life to a place that’s usually pretty dead.
The opera and chamber music series gets its name from the distillery term for whiskey that evaporates while maturing in the barrel, thus going to the angels. It launched at Green-Wood last summer and returns for a second season from September 24 to October 10.
“The Angel’s Share” immerses guests in a unique concert experience, complete with a sunset whiskey tasting pre-concert, a candlelit procession to the Catacombs at Twilight and an intimate performance of what curator Andrew Ousley called “heartbreakingly beautiful” music.
Ousley said this season, featuring abstract, wall-to-wall projections that respond to the music, is far more ambitious than the last.
Prior to “The Angel’s Share,” the Catacombs were closed to the public, but the cemetery saw new potential in the space after seeing Ousley’s award-winning concert series “The Crypt Sessions.”
This event, which seats 50 people in the Crypt under Harlem’s Church of Intercession, is so popular that Ouseley said tickets typically sell out in five to 15 seconds.
According to Ousley, the landmarked cemetery will eventually run out of space for burials, so they are hosting more community events, like “The Angel’s Share,” to revive and reinvent the cemetery as more than just a place to be buried.
Although the environment is encapsulated by death, Ousley said there is no better place to celebrate the beauty of life. He hopes the event allows audience members to embrace mortality rather than be frightened by it.
“My goal is to make people feel,” Ousley said. “It's not about wallowing in sorrow... It's not about the fact that we're going to die. It's about what do you do as a result of that reality in the time that we're given.”
The event will feature keyboardists Adam Tendler and Jenny Lin and the String Orchestra of Brooklyn. The artists will explore the theme of grief through two programs of cathartic music, including Franz Liszt’s “Poetic and Religious Harmonies” and Giovanni Battita Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater.”
“Grief is the one thing that unites humanity, especially now when the world is so divided,” Ousley said. “We are all going to be left behind, and we're all going to leave people behind... and we all have different answers for how we respond to that.”