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American Classical Orchestra Announces 2022-23 Season

Season highlights include the opening concert with Hungarian virtuoso Petra Somlai on fortepiano in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

American Classical Orchestra Announces 2022-23 Season

The American Classical Orchestra (ACO), New York City's leading period instrument orchestra, has announced its 2022-23 season of four orchestral concerts conducted by Founder and Artistic Director Thomas Crawford, beginning on Thursday, September 22, with the first of three performances at Alice Tully Hall, and continuing through May 18, 2023. The soloists will include soprano Yulan Piao, mezzo-soprano Heather Petrie, tenor Lawrence Jones, bass Joseph Charles Beutel, pianist Petra Somlai, and violinist Rachell Ellen Wong.

Season highlights include the opening concert with Hungarian virtuoso Petra Somlai on fortepiano in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 (Sept. 22); Mozart's beloved Requiem coupled with the world premiere of Thomas Crawford's Elegy, composed in memory of ACO violinist Judson Griffin, rescheduled from last February due to the Omicron variant (Oct. 28); an all-Bach program of cantatas offering three audience favorites (March 2); and an evening of romantic music on period instruments, featuring works by Schumann, Sarasate, and Grieg (May 18).

Thomas Crawford said, "The American Classical Orchestra's musicians are masters of the period instrument, performing classics anew- with zeal and authenticity. This season will offer a wonderful opportunity for our audiences to experience Baroque and Classical masterworks on the very instruments heard in concert halls when they were first performed and will also reveal how the sound and nuances of these original instruments can bring the music of great Romantic composers to life in different ways."

Opening Concert: Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3

Thursday, September 22, at 8 pm, Alice Tully Hall
Petra Somlai, fortepiano
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor
Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major
C.P.E Bach: Symphony in F Major, H665

The evening begins with Beethoven's third piano concerto, which premiered in 1803 at the Theater an der Wien. One of the composer's personal favorites, it is known among pianists as one of the most difficult in the repertoire. The concerto will be performed on fortepiano by Hungarian virtuoso Petra Somlai, first prize winner at the International Fortepiano Competition in Bruges (Belgium) and professor of fortepiano at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Next on the program is Schubert's Symphony No. 5, which he wrote at the age of 18 in 1816, the same year he composed his Fourth Symphony. The program concludes with the three-movement Symphony in F Major by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the second surviving son of J.S. Bach. The Symphony was one of several written by C.P.E. while living in Berlin, where he was known primarily as one of the foremost clavier players of his time.

Tickets, priced at $75, $55, and $35 are available at aconyc.org or by calling ACO at 212.362.2727, ext. 4. Ticket holders will need to comply with the venue's health and safety requirements.


Remember

Friday, October 28, 2022, at 8 pm, Alice Tully Hall
Yulan Piao, soprano
Heather Petrie, mezzo-soprano
Lawrence Jones, tenor
Joseph Charles Beutel, bass
ACO Chorus
Mozart: Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Thomas Crawford: Elegy (World Premiere in honor of ACO violinist Judson Griffin)

In 1791, Mozart began to compose his Requiem in response to an anonymous commission. But he died that year, at the age 35, having completed only the opening Requiem and Kyrie movements. Over the centuries, many composers have written completions of the remaining movements for this work, often considered one of the greatest musical treasures of all time. The ACO will use the esteemed completion by Mozart scholar Robert D. Levin. This performance of Mozart's Requiem commemorates the lives lost during the pandemic. The soloists are Korean-Chinese soprano Yulan Piao, first prize-winner in the Vienna Summer Music Festival Competition; contralto Heather Petrie, founding member of the acclaimed Etherea Vocal Ensemble; tenor Lawrence Jones, praised by Opera News for his "clean, ringing tenor"; and baritone Joseph Charles Beutel, who originated the role of the British Major in the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night by Kevin Puts. The world premiere of Thomas Crawford's Elegy was written to honor the memory of ACO's Principal Second Violinist Judson Griffin, who passed away in 2020. The work is comprised of slowly layered sonorities that morph from major to minor. The texture is complex, even dense at times, except for a central episode that lashes out in anger.

Tickets, priced at $75, $55, and $35. Ticket holders will need to comply with the venue's health and safety requirements.

Healing Bach

Thursday, March 2, 2023, at 8 pm, Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, Lexington Avenue at 66th Street
J.S. Bach:
An Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats, BWV 42
Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt, BWV 18
Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV 36

Soloists to be announced at a later date

This concert offers three of the composer's best-loved cantatas, performed in St. Vincent Ferrer, the beautiful Gothic-style church designed by Bertram Goodhue, completed in 1918 and designated a New York City Landmark in 1967. The word "cantata" comes from the Italian cantare, which means "to sing." The cantata format-the major form of vocal chamber music in the 17th century-features solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses, with instrumental accompaniment. A prolific composer of the genre, Bach has more than 200 sacred cantatas in his catalogue. His An Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats ("Then the same Sabbath at evening"), written in 1725 for the first Sunday after Easter with text from the Gospel of the day, John 20:19-23, tells the story of the risen Christ appearing to his disciples. The composer's Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt ("Just as the showers and snow from heaven fall"), one of his earliest church works, was composed in Weimar for the second Sunday before Lent. It is notable for its scoring, which has no wind or high string instruments. The program concludes with Bach's church cantata, Schwingt freudig euch empor ("Soar joyfully upwards"). Written in 1731 for the first Sunday in Advent, it represents his reworking of an earlier secular work, composed to a libretto by the Leipzig poet Picander.

Tickets, priced at $75, $55, and $35. Ticket holders will need to comply with the venue's health and safety requirements.


Romantic Fantasy

Thursday, May 18, 2023, at 8 pm, Alice Tully Hall
Rachell Ellen Wong, violin
Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38 "Spring Symphony"
Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25
Grieg: The Mountain Thrall, Op. 32

The ACO brings its 2022-23 season to a close with a program of romantic music. Schumann's Spring Symphony, written in 1841 (the year he met his wife Clara), is said to be inspired by Adolph Böttger's poem Frühlings-und Liebesmelodien (Melodies of Spring and Love). Accordingly, the opening brass fanfare seems to herald the first days of spring. Spanish composer and violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate's popular Carmen Fantasy stands as a testament to his prodigious skills, and is based on Bizet's opera Carmen. It will be performed on period violin by the internationally acclaimed artist Rachell Ellen Wong, recipient of the prestigious 2020 Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a founding member of the NYC-based New Amsterdam Concert, a period-instrument string ensemble specializing in music from the Renaissance to the High Baroque. The program concludes with Grieg's The Mountain Thrall (Den Bergtekne), the composer's longest orchestral song based on an old Norse poem about a man who, lost in the mountains, is lured to his death by the Erl-King's daughter. Like much of Grieg's work, this one is deeply infused with the folk-music of his Norwegian homeland.

Tickets, priced at $75, $55, and $35. Ticket holders will need to comply with the venue's health and safety requirements.


The American Classical Orchestra's Artistic Director and Founder Thomas Crawford is a champion of historically accurate performance styles in Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic music. He founded two Connecticut orchestras: the Fairfield Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy, the period instrument offshoot of the Fairfield Orchestra, renamed the American Classical Orchestra in 1999. With the Fairfield Orchestra, Crawford commissioned numerous works by composers, including John Corigliano and William Thomas McKinley, and collaborated with artists such as Joshua Bell, John Corigliano, Vladimir Feltsman, Richard Goode, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, André Watts, and Dawn Upshaw. He also conducted the world premiere of Keith Jarrett's Bridge of Light at Alice Tully Hall, subsequently recorded on the ECM label. An accomplished composer, organist, and choirmaster, Crawford won the prestigious BMI composition award for his organ work Ashes of Rose, premiered at the American Guild of Organists. A passionate activist determined to bring the beauty of period music to a wider audience, Mr. Crawford's educational activities with the Orchestra received a Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth award from the National Endowment for the Arts, recognizing the ACO's dynamic music outreach to New York City schoolchildren. A Pennsylvania native, he holds degrees in organ performance and composition from the Eastman School of Music and Columbia University.

Founded in 1984 as the Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy, the ensemble was renamed the American Classical Orchestra in 1999. Founder and Artistic Director Thomas Crawford established its new and permanent home in New York City in 2005. It is now the City's only full-scale orchestra dedicated to performing 17th, 18th, and 19th century music on period instruments. Described as "simply splendid" by The New York Times, ACO players are the foremost in their field, consisting of artists who also perform with such major ensembles as Orchestra of St. Luke's, Handel and Haydn Society, and the New York Philharmonic. Its principal players are Faculty members at The Juilliard School, and the ACO works closely with students enrolled in the School's Historical Performance Program. The American Classical Orchestra Chorus, comprised of professional vocalists from the New York metro area, joins ACO for larger productions. By playing music on original instruments and using historic performance techniques, ACO strives to recreate the sounds that audiences would have heard when the music was first written and performed. The Orchestra and its "supremely skilled musicians" (Theater Scene) have won critical praise for its recordings, educational programs, and concerts, including appearances at Alice Tully Hall and on Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and for a sold-out 25th anniversary performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.



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