Alan Gilbert To Conduct NY Premiere of Requiem at Carnegie Hall, 5/5
Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in the New York Premiere of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse's Requiem with baritone Jacques Imbrailo, the Westminster Symphonic Choir directed by Joe Miller, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus directed by Dianne Berkun-Menaker.
The concert, Monday, May 5, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., will open the Spring For Music festival at Carnegie Hall, for which North American orchestras are invited to present one-night-only performances of unusual programming.
The concert will be broadcast live on WQXR 105.9 FM and wqxr.orgat 7:30 p.m., hosted by WQXR's Elliott Forrest and David Garland. WQXR will make it available for on-demand listening for one year following the stream on wqxr.org.
"That underlies all the programs we play, but it is perhaps most perfectly manifest in Chris Rouse's Requiem. In this astounding work Chris has captured something fundamental about humanity, creating something both cataclysmic and cathartic. It is an honor to join our sister orchestras in this week-long celebration of what symphonic music can bring to all of our lives."
"I feel attuned to Berlioz and his music," Mr. Rouse said. "It speaks to me almost as though I had composed it myself. I love the combination of the wild revolutionary with the much more traditional classicist - he's not just the 'crazy man.' I love his harmony, his rhythm, his orchestration - and his melodic sense is unlike anyone else's."
Of his Requiem, Mr. Rouse said: "It is the best thing that I can lay claim to. It's the work by which I would want to stand or fall."
Music Director Alan Gilbert began his New York Philharmonic tenure in September 2009, the first native New Yorker in the post. He and the Philharmonic have introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and, beginning in the spring of 2014, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. "He is building a legacy that matters and is helping to change the template for what an American orchestra can be," The New York Times praised.
In addition to inaugurating the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, in the 2013-14 season Alan Gilbert conducts Mozart's three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Frieze coupled with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; world premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer's centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film was screened; and a staged production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. He continues The Nielsen Project - the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer's symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012 - and presides over the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour. Last season's highlights included Bach's B-minor Mass; Ives's Fourth Symphony; the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour; and the season-concluding A Dancer's Dream, a multidisciplinary reimagining of Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka, created by Giants Are Small and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.
Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies and holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School. Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award. Renée Fleming's recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. His recordings have received top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. In May 2010 Mr. Gilbert received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music and in December 2011, Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for his "exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music."
South African baritone Jacques Imbrailo won the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition Audience Prize and was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House. In 2010 Mr. Imbrailo made his Glyndebourne Festival debut in the title role of Britten's Billy Budd in Michael Grandage's new production conducted by Mark Elder. Other recent operatic engagements include Pelléas in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (at Essen Opera); Tarquinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (in Florence and in Houston); Aeneas in Purcell's Dido & Aeneas (Opera di Roma); Count Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera, and Opéra de Lille); the leading baritone role in Judith Weir's new commission for the Royal Opera House, Miss Fortune (which was premiered at the Bregenz Festspiele); Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville (Welsh National Opera); Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale (Royal Opera House); Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan Tutte (Opera Colorado, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, and Opera North); Schaunard in Puccini's La Bohème (Royal Opera House); and Billy Budd (de Nederlandse Opera). His concert performances have included Orff's Carmina burana with the New York Philharmonic led by Rafael Fru?hbeck de Burgos (in June 2012, marking his debut with the Orchestra), Christ in Elgar's The Apostles with the Hallé and Mark Elder at the BBC Proms, J.S. Bach's St. John Passion, Handel's Messiah, Brahms's Requiem, Fauré's Requiem, and Duruflé's Requiem. He has given solo Lieder recitals at Wigmore Hall, St. John's Smith Square, and Amsterdam's Het Concertgebouw, and performed in concert at the Verbier Festival, Royal Albert Hall, and Southbank Centre. Highlights in the 2013-14 season include the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni (Scottish Opera); Billy Budd in New York; and Valentin in Gounod's Faust in Baden-Baden.
Comprising students from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, the Westminster Symphonic Choir has recorded and performed with major orchestras under virtually every internationally acclaimed conductor of the past 79 years. Recognized as one of the world's leading choral ensembles, the choir has sung more than 350 performances with the New York Philharmonic alone. The ensemble's 2013-14 season includes performances of works by Beethoven with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Mark Laycock, and Rachmaninoff's The Bells with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski. Recent seasons have included performances of Verdi's Requiem and J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Nézet-Séguin; Berg's Wozzeck with the London Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen; Villa-Lobos's Chôros No. 10 and Estévez's Cantata Criolla with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim. Westminster Choir College is a division of Rider University's Westminster College of the Arts, which has campuses in Princeton and Lawrenceville, New Jersey. A professional college of music with a unique choral emphasis, Westminster prepares students at the undergraduate and graduate levels for careers in teaching, sacred music, arts administration, and performance. The choir's first appearance with the Philharmonic was in 1959, when it participated in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, conducted by John Barbirolli; it most recently performed with the Philharmonic in Handel's Messiah, led by Andrew Manze, in December 2013. Joe Miller is conductor of two of America's most renowned choral ensembles: the Westminster Choir and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. He is also director of choral activities at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, artistic director for choral activities for Spoleto Festival USA, founder and conductor of the Westminster Chamber Choir, and leads the annual Westminster Summer Choral Festival. In demand as a guest conductor and clinician, his recent residencies have included Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music, Temple University, and the Berlin Radio Symphony Chorus.
Now in its 21st season, the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC), under the direction of founder and artistic director Dianne Berkun-Menaker, has performed with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, and Mariinsky Orchestra, and conductors Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Robert Spano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Leon Botstein. The BYC has performed with artists including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Grizzly Bear, John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield, Alicia Keys, and Judy Collins. Central to BYC's work is New Voices, an active commissioning program with the goal of creating innovative repertoire that challenges both singers and audiences. Among the composers BYC has commissioned are Pulitzer Prize-winners David Lang and Paul Moravec, Daniel Brewbaker, Bryce Dessner, Phil Kline, Fred Hersch, Andrew Lippa, James MacMillan, Joel Martin, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, Kirk Nurock, Richard Reed Parry, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Julia Wolfe, and Shara Worden. BYC has performed at BAM's Next Wave Festival, BAM's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Cincinnati's MusicNOW Festival, Park Avenue Armory's Tune-In Festival, the Prototype Festival, and the Bang on a Can Marathon at the River to River Festival. The young singers, who are drawn from all five boroughs of New York City, receive training from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy (BYCA), a performance-based vocal music education program. Dianne Berkun-Menaker was the artistic director for the 2012-13 Carnegie Hall Choral Institute, and is creator of BYCA's groundbreaking Cross-Choral Training program. BYC's first appearance with the Philharmonic was in 2002 for the premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, conducted by Lorin Maazel; the recording won a Grammy Award in 2005. It most recently participated in the Orchestra's November 2013 performances of Britten's Spring Symphony, led by Alan Gilbert.
The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse completed his Requiem in Aspen, Colorado, on July 12, 2002; it was commissioned by the Chicago-based Solo Dei Gloria to honor of the 2003 Hector Berlioz bicentenary. Mr. Rouse writes: "Berlioz is a composer whose music has always held an especially profound power over me, and his own mighty Requiem remains one of the most stupendous and imaginative of all such works, a unique example of the genre." Mr. Rouse selected the same adaptation of the Latin texts for the Requiem Mass for the Dead that Berlioz used interspersed with settings of poetry, in a variety of languages, and explains, "My goal was to use the chorus, restricted to the Latin liturgical text, to express the enormity of 'death' in its deepest context; the role of the bass-baritone soloist would then be to make the experience of death more personal by adopting the classic figure of the 'Everyman' whose life is marked by the deaths of loved ones around him." The poetry comprises selections from Seamus Heaney's Mid-Term Break, Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches, Ben Jonson's On My First Son, John Milton's Sonnet 23, and Michelangelo's On Immortality and excerpts from his ode on the death of his father. Mr. Rouse composed his Requiem in the aftermath of 9/11, but says, "There is a small, symbolic reference in the score to September 11, but beyond that I have elected to attempt, in my own inadequate way, a remembrance of all who have died as well as those who have survived and grieved for them. It is my hope that my Requiem will, in the end, provide some sort of solace."
Photo Credit: Chris Lee