American Symphony Orchestra to Present FORGED FROM FIRE at Carnegie Hall, 5/30
World War One is often, and rightly, seen as the schism that shattered the old world order - the class systems, international balances of power, the domestic balance between men and women. What is less discussed, however, is the way that many of these seismic changes were expressed by and affected music. Composers found their whole world-view, the core of what drove them to write, shattered and reshaped. And their audiences found new resonances in their music. Because music at that time wasn't just music - it was a way of making sense of a chaotic world. A century on, Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra present a fascinating, powerful look at that period in "Forged From Fire" at Carnegie Hall on Friday, May 30 at 8pm.
Music Director Botstein has chosen the concert's four works to reflect four ways in which World War One affected the leading composers.
He explains: "The onset of World War One shredded a whole cultural sense of stability. We're looking at that process of the coming apart. The concert opens with A Patriotic Overture - an overture for the Germans - by Max Reger, a great composer who was a driven patriot. Charles Ives's Orchestral Set No. 2 was inspired by the sinking of the Luisitania, it was Ives's sense of America's musical identity as a nation entering the world war. World War One also gave birth to the first legitimate acknowledgment of Zionism with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and Ernest Bloch in his Israel Symphony wanted to create a national Jewish music from the inspiration of Wagner, of all people. Finally Poland's greatest composer after Chopin, Karol Szymanowski, composed his Symphony No. 3, a fabulous work with chorus that was the real musical voice of modern, independent Poland.
"This is what happens to composers when the word is suddenly engulfed and an old order comes to an end and a new era comes into being. Four perspectives - the old German nationalism, the American sensibilities as they entered the Great War, the proto-Zionism, and the birth of modern Poland - all expressed in music."
The soloists for the concert will be Blair McMillen on piano, Denis Sedov (bass) and Corey Bix (tenor), with the Collegiate Chorale Singers directed by James Bagwell.
Tickets: $25 / $35 / $50 are available at americansymphony.org and by phone at 212-868-9276. Tickets are also available at CarnegieHall.org, at the Carnegie box office, or by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800. The Conductor's Notes Q&A at 7pm in Stern Auditorium is free with concert ticket.
ABOUT Leon Botstein: Leon Botstein recently celebrated his 20th year as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. He is also co-Artistic Director of the Summerscape and Bard Music Festivals at Bard College, where Mr. Botstein has been President since 1975. In addition he is also Conductor Laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as Music Director from 2003-2011. The New York Times recently said of him, "When it comes to ambitious, fearless orchestral programming, there is Leon Botstein...and then there is everyone else."
Mr. Botstein leads an active schedule as a guest conductor all over the world, and can be heard on numerous recordings. Earlier this season he visited Venezuela and Japan to conduct the Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas, the first non-Venezuelan conductor invited by El Sistema to conduct on a tour. Many of his live performances with the American Symphony Orchestra are available for download online. The Los Angeles Times called this summer's Los Angeles Philharmonic performance under Mr. Botstein "the all-around most compelling performance of anything I've heard all summer at the Bowl." For his contributions to music his many awards include the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Harvard University's prestigious Centennial Award, the Cross of Honor, First Class from the government of Austria and the 2013 Bruckner Society's Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor for his interpretations of that composer's music.
ABOUT American Symphony Orchestra: The American Symphony Orchestra was founded 50 years ago by Leopold Stokowski, with the avowed intention of making orchestral music accessible and affordable for everyone. Under Music Director Leon Botstein, Stokowski's mission is not only intact but thrives. And beyond that, the ASO has become a pioneer in what The Wall Street Journal called "a new concept in orchestras," presenting concerts curated around various themes drawn from the visual arts, literature, politics, and history, and unearthing rarely-performed masterworks for well-deserved revival. These concerts are performed in the Vanguard Series at Carnegie Hall.
The orchestra also gives the celebrated concert series Classics Declassified at Peter Norton Symphony Space, and regularly performs at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, where it appears in a winter subscription series as well as Bard's annual SummerScape Festival and the Bard Music Festival. In 2010, the ASO became the resident orchestra of The Collegiate Chorale, performing regularly in the Chorale's New York concert series. The orchestra has made several tours of Asia and Europe. In addition to CDs released by the Telarc, New World, Bridge, Koch, and Vanguard labels, many live performances are now available for digital download. In many cases, these are the only existing recordings of some of the rare works that have been rediscovered in ASO performances.