Alan Gilbert & The Philharmonic Launch New Season With Mahler's Symphony No. 3 & More
Alan Gilbert will launch the New York Philharmonic's 168th season's subscription concerts in his new role as Music Director, conducting works that reflect his interest in creating programs that feature established repertoire and new and lesser-known music in innovative contexts.
The first program, September 17-18 and 22, 2009, will comprise Mahler's Symphony No. 3, featuring mezzo-soprano Petra Lang in her New York Philharmonic debut, with the choral forces of the Women of the Westminster Symphonic Choir and The American Boychoir. On September 24-26, 2009, the program will feature Brahms's Violin Concerto, with Frank Peter Zimmermann as soloist, and Schoenberg's Pelleas and Melisande. And on September 30-October 1 and 3, 2009, the Orchestra will offer a reprise of EXPO, the New York Philharmonic Commission from Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg (premiered on Opening Night, September 16) along with Ives's Symphony No. 2 and The Unanswered Question, and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, with Emanuel Ax as soloist.
Reflecting on his approach to programming, Mr. Gilbert has said: "I love a wide range of music, and I love to present music in the most favorable context possible. I hope I can
bring a fresh approach to combining works that will illuminate and elucidate individual pieces because of the context in which they are presented. I try to have a balance and a range of music. But almost more important is how the pieces are juxtaposed, aligned.
Stark comparisons can illuminate the works, and boundaries become less clear. It's not to say that stark contrasts are the primary goal in programming; sometimes it can be telling and fascinating to present a program of all one composer."
On Friday, October 2, 2009, at 8:00 p.m., the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, will make its debut at the opening of the first Fall Festival of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York. The all-Beethoven program will comprise the Piano Concerto No. 4, with Emanuel Ax as soloist, and the Symphony No. 7.
Alan Gilbert Conducts Mahler's Symphony No. 3
The first subscription series, Thursday, September 17, at 7:30 p.m., Friday,
September 18, at 2:00 p.m., and Tuesday, September 22, 2009, at 7:30 p.m., will feature Mahler's Symphony No. 3, performed by mezzo-soprano Petra Lang in her Philharmonic debut, along with the Women of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Joe Miller, director, and The American Boychoir, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, director.
Composer/conductor Victoria Bond will introduce the program one hour before each performance. Tickets are $5 in addition to the concert ticket. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org or (212) 875-5656
National Radio Broadcast
This concert will be broadcast the week of September 28, 2009,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated nationally to more than 295 stations by the WFMT Radio Network. The 52-week series, hosted by award-winning actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Foundation, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philharmonic's corporate partner, MetLife Foundation. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org. The program will be broadcast locally in the New York Metropolitan area on 93.9 FM WNYC.
*Check local listings for broadcast and program information.
Alan Gilbert Conducts Brahms and Schoenberg
The second series of concerts, on Thursday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, September 25, at 11:00 a.m., and Saturday, September 26, 2009, at 8:00 p.m., focuses on Brahms's Violin Concerto, featuring Frank Peter Zimmermann as soloist, and Schoenberg's youthful symphonic tone poem, Pelleas and Melisande.
Speaker: Kyle Dzapo, professor of music, Bradley University; principal flutist, Peoria Symphony; and pre-concert lecturer, Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
National Radio Broadcast
This concert will be broadcast the week of October 5, 2009, on The New York Philharmonic This Week. Check local listings.
Alan Gilbert Conducts Magnus Lindberg's EXPO - a New York Philharmonic Commission - and Works by Ives and Beethoven
The third series, on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, October 3, 2009, at 8:00 p.m., will reprise Magnus Lindberg's new work, EXPO, a New York Philharmonic Commission, along with performances of Ives's Symphony No. 2 and The Unanswered Question; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, with Emanuel Ax as soloist.
Speaker: New York Philharmonic Program Annotator James A. Keller
National Radio Broadcast
This concert will be broadcast the week of October 12, 2009, on The New York Philharmonic This Week. Check local listings.
The New York Philharmonic on Asian Horizons
Following these concerts, the New York Philharmonic will travel on Asian Horizons, October 8-24, 2009, a tour that will take the Orchestra to Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore; and Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. The subscription concerts will resume on Thursday, November 5, 2009.
Alan Gilbert will begin his tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in the 2009-10 season, the first native New Yorker to hold the post. For his inaugural season he has introduced a number of new initiatives: Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg; The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Thomas Hampson; an annual three-week festival; and CONTACT, the New York Philharmonic's new-music
series. He will also lead the Orchestra on a major tour of Asia in October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi; a European tour in January 2010; and performances of world, U.S., and New York premieres. Also in the 2009-10 season Mr. Gilbert becomes the first to hold the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School, a position that will include coaching, conducting, and performance master classes.
Highlights of Mr. Gilbert's 2008-09 season with the New York Philharmonic included the November 14, 2008, Bernstein anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall, and a performance with the Juilliard Orchestra, presented by the Philharmonic, featuring Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, Kaddish. In May 2009 he conducted the World Premiere of Peter Lieberson's The World in Flower, a New York Philharmonic Commission, and in July 2009 he led the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, and two concerts at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado.
In June 2008 Mr. Gilbert was named conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, following his final concert as its chief conductor and artistic advisor. He has been principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra (NDRSO) since 2004. Mr. Gilbert regularly conducts other leading orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, including the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco symphony orchestras; The Cleveland Orchestra; Munich's Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw; and Orchestre National de Lyon. In 2003 he was named the first music director of Santa Fe Opera, where he served for three seasons.
Born and raised in New York City, Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School; he was a substitute violinist with The Philadelphia Orchestra for two seasons, and assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra from 1995 to 1997. In November 2008 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Dr. Atomic. His recording of Prokofiev's Scythian Suite with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Artists for September 17, 18, and 22, 2009
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, mezzo-soprano Petra Lang began her musical studies on the violin before studying voice with Gertie Charlent at the Music Academy of Darmstadt and, from 1989 to 2006, with Ingrid Bjoner. Currently she is in demand for her Wagnerian roles of Kundry in Parsifal, Sieglinde in Die Walküre, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Venus in Tannhäuser, Ortrud in Lohengrin, and Adriano in Rienzi. Other roles include Judith in Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle; Cassandra in Berlioz's Les Troyens; and Ariadne in R. Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos; and she is known for her interpretation of works by Mahler. Ms. Lang has appeared in all the major European and American opera houses, and at the festivals of Bayreuth, Salzburg, and Bregenz. She has sung with orchestras worldwide, and won two 2002 Grammy Awards for her interpretation of Cassandra as part of the London Symphony Orchestra's live recording of Les Troyens conducted by Sir Colin Davis. She has given Lieder recitals in London's Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet and Louvre, Austria's Schubertiade Feldkirch, Edinburgh Festival, New York's Carnegie Hall; at the Geneva, Brussels, and Gent theaters; and throughout her native Germany, and has recorded songs by the conductor Clemens Krauss for Oehms Classics. Future plans include performances of Sieglinde in Die Walküre in Berlin; Kundry in Parsifal with Bernard Haitink in London and Vienna; Mahler's Second Symphony with Pierre Boulez in Berlin and Vienna; Venus in Wagner's Tannhäuser in San Diego and San Francisco; concerts with Marek Janowski in Paris, Berlin, and Spain; Judith in Bluebeard's Castle with Christoph von Dohnányi in Geneva; Wagner concerts with Ixán Fischer in Budapest; and recitals in Geneva, Paris, and Amsterdam. Ms. Lang is making her New York Philharmonic debut in these concerts.
The Westminster Symphonic Choir (WSC), directed by Joe Miller, is composed of students at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and has recorded and performed with major orchestras under virtually every internationally known conductor of the last 75 years. In the 2009-10 season the choir will perform John Adams's El Niño with the Orchestra of St. Luke's; Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, led by Sir Roger Norrington at Carnegie Hall. The WSC's 2008-09 season included a series of performances with the New York Philharmonic, including Handel's Messiah, led by Ton Koopman, and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé, conducted by Lorin Maazel. The choir also performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons, and Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, and 8, with the Berlin Staatskapelle led by Pierre Boulez. The Women of the Westminster Symphonic Choir last appeared with the New York Philharmonic in February 2009, performing Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgisnacht, led by Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur.
The American Boychoir, under the direction of music director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, is regarded as one of the United States's premier concert boys' choirs and one of the finest in the world. Boys from grades four through eight - reflecting the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of our nation - come from nine states and four foreign countries to pursue a rigorous musical and academic curriculum at The American Boychoir School, the only non-sectarian boys' choir school in the nation. Founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1937, The American Boychoir has been located in Princeton, New Jersey, since 1950. In addition to maintaining an active national and international touring schedule, the ensemble performs and records regularly with such world-class artists and ensembles as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, soprano Jessye Norman, pop diva Beyoncé, and Sir Paul McCartney. The American Boychoir last appeared with the New York Philharmonic in March 2008 in a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, led by Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur.
Artist for September 24-26, 2009
Born in 1965 in Duisburg, Germany, Frank Peter Zimmermann began playing the violin when he was five years old, and gave his first concert with orchestra at the age of ten. Since finishing his studies in 1983, he has been performing with the world's major orchestras and conductors. Recent and future highlights include engagements with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras; Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw; and the Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, and London symphony orchestras, and he has given the world premieres of violin concertos by Augusta Read Thomas, Brett Dean, and Matthias Pintscher. Mr. Zimmermann is also an avid chamber musician and recitalist; his music partners include pianists Emanuel Ax, Piotr Anderszewski, Enrico Pace, and Christian Zacharias, and cellist Heinrich Schiff. He also performs as a member of the Trio Zimmerman with violist Antoine Tamestit and cellist Christian Poltéra. Over the past two decades Mr. Zimmermann has recorded virtually all the major concertos, as well as many recital works. His recordings, released by EMI Classics, Teldec Classics, ECM Records, and Sony Classical, have received awards and prizes worldwide. Frank Peter Zimmermann plays a Stradivarius from 1711, which once belonged to Fritz Kreisler, and which is sponsored by the WestLB AG. He last appeared with the New York Philharmonic in March 2006, performing Brahms's Violin Concerto, led by Ludovic Morlot.
Artist for September 30-October 1 and 3, 2009
Pianist Emanuel Ax was born in Lvov, Poland, and moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at The Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Mr. Ax, who attended Columbia University with a major in French, captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the Avery Fisher Prize. In the 2008-09 season Mr. Ax returned to several orchestras with which he has had relationships for many years including the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco, St. Louis, Toronto, and Kansas City symphony orchestras; in Kansas City he performed the world premiere of Stephen Hartke's Piano Concerto. Special projects included a duo recital tour with pianist Yefim Bronfman; a performance with violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall; and a solo recital tour in both North America and Europe. In recognition of the bicentenaries of Chopin and Schumann in 2010 and in partnership with London's Barbican, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Ax has commissioned new works from composers John Adams, Peter Lieberson, and Osvaldo Golijov for three recital programs to be presented in each of those cities with colleagues Yo-Yo Ma, cellist, and Dawn Upshaw, soprano. Mr. Ax last appeared with the New York Philharmonic in January 2009, playing works by R. Strauss and Szymanowski, conducted by Lorin Maazel. He is scheduled to go on tour with the Orchestra on Asian Horizons in October 2009.
Mahler Symphony No. 3 (September 17-18 and 22, 2009)
Like all nine of his completed symphonies, Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3 is expansive, complex, and demands enormous resources. Mahler composed the last five of its six movements in the summer of 1895, and added the first in 1896, making final revisions to the work in May 1899. As Mahler observed while composing the work, "to call it a symphony is really incorrect since it does not follow the usual form. The term ‘symphony' - to me this means creating a world with all the technical means available."
Using boys' and women's choruses as well as a mezzo-soprano soloist, the symphony quotes Nietzsche's Midnight Song, portions of text from the composer's own folk-song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and other songs. Mahler gave the first complete performance of the Symphony No. 3 in Germany in 1902. The New York Philharmonic premiere took place on February 28, 1922, led by Willem Mengelberg. The Symphony was most recently performed in June 2004, led by Lorin Maazel, with soloist Anna Larsson, the Westminster Choir, and The American Boychoir.
Brahms Violin Concerto (September 24-26, 2009)
Johannes Brahms wrote his only Violin Concerto in 1878 for Joseph Joachim, a close friend and the most celebrated virtuoso of the day. The composer repeatedly asked for his friend's advice on the technical aspects of violin writing - and then ignored almost all of his suggestions. Nevertheless, the concerto shows Joachim's influence throughout: in the first-movement cadenza written by Joachim, in the Hungarian-inspired rhythms of the finale, and in the concerto's technical difficulty. Its innovative metrical effects and the striking thematic unity are hallmarks of Brahms. The New York Philharmonic first performed the work in 1891, led by Walter Damrosch, with the New York Symphony (which merged with the New York Philharmonic in November 1928 to form today's New York Philharmonic), and Adolph Brodsky as soloist. The most recent performance was given at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in July 2009, led by Alan Gilbert, with soloist Nikolaj Znaider.
Schoenberg Pelleas and Melisande (September 24-26, 2009)
Arnold Schoenberg's sole symphonic poem, the fateful Pelleas and Melisande, was
written early in the composer's career, between 1902 and 1903. A 40-minute, one-movement work, Pelleas und Melisande received its U.S. premiere by the New York Philharmonic in 1915, led by Josef Stransky. Inspired by the Maeterlinck play (and encouraged to mine the tragedy's rich musical possibilities by Richard Strauss), a 28-year-old Schoenberg composed this sensuous work without reference to - or even knowledge of - Debussy's opera produced the same year (1902). With echoes of Wagner, Strauss, and Mahler, the piece is characterized by what the composer called "an extravagant abundance of themes." The New York Philharmonic last performed this work in May 2001, led by James Conlon.
Magnus Lindberg EXPO (September 30, October 1 and 3, 2009)
EXPO is a World Premiere-New York Philharmonic Commission by Magnus Lindberg, the New York Philharmonic's 2009-10 Composer-in-Residence. Born in Helsinki, Finland, Mr. Lindberg is noted for his richly intricate works for orchestra, and has been in the forefront of orchestral composition over the past decade, including the concert-opener Feria (1997); large-scale statements such as Fresco (1997), Cantigas (1999), Concerto for Orchestra (2002-03), and Sculpture (2005); and concertos for cello (1999), clarinet (2002), and violin (2006). He is also a pianist and percussionist. Of EXPO, he says: "The title is self-explanatory; it's the exposition of Alan [Gilbert's] season. I work with extremely strong contrasts between super-fast and super-slow music, and then a strange amalgam between these poles. It's a piece built on qualities I find so gorgeous in Alan's way of making music: absolute technical and physical straightness - no mystery around the rational part of it - and then on top of that the highly irrational and mysterious part of how you actually put music together."
Ives Symphony No. 2 (September 30, October 1 and 3, 2009)
American Charles Ives composed his relatively conservative and "European" Symphony No. 1 while still studying music at Yale under the tutelage of Horatio Parker. In his Symphony No. 2, however, written after he had graduated and begun his career in the insurance business, Ives was free to follow his own uniquely personal conception of music, which emphasized quotation and allusion, memory and autobiography, and openness to experimentation. The symphony, he said, expressed "musical feelings of the Connecticut country around Redding and Danbury in the 1890s, the music of the country folk. It is full of tunes they sang and played then...." Among many other borrowings, a listener may hear "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," "Camptown Races," and "Turkey in the Straw," as well as snatches of Bach, Brahms, and Wagner. The earliest version was probably composed between 1897 and 1902, but the symphony was not performed until the New York Philharmonic gave its world premiere on February 22, 1951, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. The most recent performances were in April 1987, again conducted by Bernstein.
Ives The Unanswered Question (September 30, October 1 and 3, 2009)
One of Ives's most intriguing and imaginative works, The Unanswered Question
presents a vivid philosophical vision in sound. A solo trumpet repeatedly intones an enigmatic musical query, to which a group of winds can only offer glib and unsatisfying responses, while the strings evoke the indifferent passage of time. True to his reputation
as an experimentalist, Ives divides the orchestra into two entities that play independently of one another. He wrote The Unanswered Question in 1906, making slight revisions in the mid 1930s. The New York Philharmonic first performed the work on tour in Russia in August 1959, led by Leonard Bernstein. Most recently it was performed in May 2009, conducted by David Robertson.
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 (September 30, October 1 and 3, 2009)
Ludwig Van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, widely regarded as one of the composer's most evocative and complex works, was completed in 1806, during a period in his life marked by an upswing in activity after the low ebb that accompanied the realization of his hearing loss. Beethoven gave the first performances of the concerto in 1807 at two private recitals for his patron, Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz. The following year, he presented the work to the public at the Theater an der Wein - the last solo performance he ever gave. The New York Philharmonic first performed the Piano Concerto No. 4 in January 1863, conducted by Theodore Eisfeld, with S.B. Mills as soloist. The most recent complete performances took place in April 2008, with Richard Goode as soloist and Sir Colin Davis conducting.