Seeing the stage of the Back to the City Concert 2020 slowly coming to life in the heart of BAM - Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano, this year is especially significant. It is a moment of cultural and social rebirth in one of the places that symbolise the city’s dynamism.
BAM is the result of a private/public partnership between the City of Milan, COIMA and the Riccardo Catella Foundation, which is responsible for its technical and cultural management. It is committed to bringing citizens’ cultural experiences in contact with nature in a space designed to be an example of sustainability and sharing. After taking its first steps during the open-air concert of the Filarmonica della Scala on 8 September a year ago, everything changed due to the pandemic – just as the project was starting.
Francesca Colombo, General
Cultural Director of BAM
A new challenge that could only be faced in one way: by making Milan braver. BAM, Riccardo Catella Foundation Cultural General Manager, Francesca Colombo said: “An approach that has guided us throughout 2020 and which we celebrated on 12 September with the second edition of the Back to the City Concert, dedicated this year to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.”
Under the direction of Nathalie Stutzmann and the Costanzo Porta Choir, the I Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra performed the Ninth Symphony and gave all citizens a great free performance of classical music outdoors. This is one of BAM’s main objectives: to make the city more inclusive, participatory and offer value to all.
“Choosing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with the famous Ode to Joy, was particularly significant because it is a piece that combines two values that will guide BAM’s future: universal brotherhood and rebirth. With the Back to the City Concert we wanted to give a message of joy, bringing the concert streaming into everyone’s homes, and facilities that care for fragile people. We went beyond Milan’s borders with the live coverage and experimenting with the innovative 360° viewing mode. We are going in the right direction, for inclusive enjoyment from all points of view.”
A BAM digital version was established during Covid. “Despite the difficult experience that left its mark in everyone, I consider this period of change positive. BAM is a place of culture and has proved to capable of quickly reorganising itself, thanks to our young and dynamic staff, providing our community with 35 BAM@Home workshop events during the pandemic. This virtual version of our initiatives allowed us to broadcast the planned open-air events by transforming them into contents that can be streamed, a feature that will prove useful if there are new health restrictions or for some shows during winter.”
Back to the City Concert
This ‘new normality’ has allowed the affirmation of open-air cultural enjoyment methods that could become a future model for Italy: “BAM stands as a place of innovation and has been designed to become the hub of outdoor cultural events, in contact with nature, which is more essential after the months of quarantine.” A dynamism and a sense of adaptation which met with the citizens’ approval during this unusual summer, by adopting a new form of distancing that integrates with the situation and represented a new form of interaction for Milan residents: Francesca Colombo said: “Our circles and writing ‘BAM loves MILANO’ on the grass were an almost iconographic success! Everyone responded positively and respected the safety instructions. I think it was a gesture of welcome and a ‘safe’ return to nature that the citizens appreciated.”
BAM’s cultural programming is inspired by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and is divided into four pillars: #openairculture, #nature, #wellness, #education. The programme schedule for the coming months is particularly rich, with “180 cultural moments, yoga and fitness classes, concerts, meetings and events for adults and children. And our ‘BAM Season Days’, created to celebrate the changing seasons.”
Goodbye Summer celebrated in BAM on September 20th
Consistent with the Catella Foundation and COIMA values, the activities aim to create a connection between people and the surrounding urban fabric. Francesca Colombo pointed out that one of the main BAM features is represented in a simple word: “Networking! Networking to be brave, together. BAM is almost a year old and interacts with more than 70 cultural institutions - including Fondazione Feltrinelli, Filarmonica della Scala, and FAI. We have set up a partnership for the employees of the City of Milan and their Campuses, involving more than 700 citizens who have identified with our values by becoming BAMFriends.”
Francesca Colombo concluded: “Among the latest partners who joined us, we have the Biodiversity Festival and Parco Nord Milano, together we are working to build a network among Milan’s large city parks. This confirms us as one of the city's cultural players. “For a walk in the nature, to keep in shape in the open-air or to attend cultural events and shows, BAM is always ready to welcome you!”