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Alan Gilbert to Lead the New York Philharmonic in Free Memorial Day Concert, 5/26

Alan Gilbert to Lead the New York Philharmonic in Free Memorial Day Concert, 5/26

Music Director Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Nielsen's Helios Overture at the Annual Free Memorial Day Concert, Monday, May 26, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. This will be the 23rd Annual Free Memorial Day Concert offered by the New York Philharmonic, a tradition begun in 1992 as a gift to the people of New York City. Alan Gilbert has led the Annual Free Memorial Day Concert each year since becoming Music Director in the 2009-10 season. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance; ticket distribution will begin at 6:00 p.m. The audio of the performance will be broadcast onto the adjacent Pulpit Green, weather permitting. The program will be presented without intermission.

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-Jose?e 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.

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; four 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. Rene?e Fleming's recent Decca recording Poe?mes, 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."

Carl Nielsen composed the Helios Overture in 1903 while in Athens, Greece, with his wife, the sculptress Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, who was working at the Acropolis Museum at the time. A programmatic work, Helios (named for the Greek god of the sun) depicts the sun's movement in the sky over the Aegean Sea from dawn to dusk. Its first performance was in Copenhagen that October, conducted by Johan Svendsen. A showpiece for orchestra, today the Helios Overture is considered one of the composer's most famous works. The Orchestra most recently performed the Helios Overture in March 2014, its first-ever performances at the Philharmonic, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert as part of The Nielsen Project, the Philharmonic's multi-year focus on Danish composer Carl Nielsen launched in the 2010-11 season.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck about his Symphony No. 5: "Now I shall work my hardest. I am exceedingly anxious to prove to myself, as to others, that I am not played out as a composer.... Have I told you that I intend to write a symphony?" Ever the fragile, self-doubting composer, Tchaikovsky saw himself as a plaything of fate, struggling for happiness. After the Fifth Symphony's successful St. Petersburg premiere in 1888, and the orchestra's triple fanfare in his honor, Tchaikovsky wrote: "I have come to the conclusion that [the Fifth Symphony] is a failure. The applause and ovations referred not to this but to other works of mine, and the Symphony itself will never please the public." He couldn't have been more wrong: the work has become much-loved by audiences and performers. The Philharmonic's first presentation of the Fifth Symphony was in February 1890, conducted by Theodore Thomas; Alan Gilbert led the Orchestra's most recent performances of the symphony in Seoul, South Korea; Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama, Japan; and Taipei, Taiwan, during the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour in February.

Admission to this performance is free. Tickets are required and will be distributed at 6:00 p.m. the evening of the concert. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance.

Pictured: Alan Gilbert conducting at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Photo by Chris Lee.

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