American Symphony Orchestra Announces 2018-19 Season

American Symphony Orchestra Announces 2018-19 Season

The American Symphony Orchestra today announced the 57th season of its Vanguard series at Carnegie Hall, running from October 17, 2018 through March 22, 2019. The 2018-19 season will focus on rediscovering works of the 20th century, illuminating masterpieces from the not so distant past and bringing rarely-heard composers to a wider audience. Music director Leon Botstein will conduct all concerts in the series.

The opening program of the 2018-19 season features the premieres of three works inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman: the New York premieres of Kurt Weill's Four Walt Whitman Songsand Franz Schreker's Vom ewigen Leben (From Eternal Life), and the U.S. premiere of Othmar Schoeck's Trommelschläge. The second presentation will spotlight the music of four mid-20th-century composers from New York City - Robert Mann, Jacob Druckman, William Schuman, and the New York premiere of Vivian Fine's Concertante for Piano and Orchestra. The final concert in the series will offer the first American performance in Czech of Bohuslav Martinu's operatic masterpiece, Julietta.

Music director Leon Botstein will provide the essential musical context for each of the three concert programs in lively, 30-minute Conductor's Notes Q&A sessions. These discussions, popular learning opportunities for both concert-goers and music connoisseurs alike, begin one hour before each concert and are free for all ticket holders.

A Walt Whitman Sampler

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

7 PM Conductor's Notes Q&A

8 PM Concert, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage

Leon Botstein, conductor

Bard Festival Chorale

Soloists to be announced

Othmar Schoeck: Trommelschläge (U.S. Premiere)

Kurt Weill: Four Walt Whitman Songs (New York Premiere)
Franz Schreker: Vom ewigen Leben (From Eternal Life) (New York Premiere)
Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony (Symphony No. 1)

Walt Whitman, the defining 19th-century poetic voice of America, inspired several generations of European composers. In the 20th century, Whitman's poetry was beautifully adapted during World War I by Othmar Schoeck, who became one of his generation's foremost composers in Switzerland. The catastrophe of World War II inspired Kurt Weill to turn to Whitman's writings. Forced to flee his native Germany, Weill was encouraged by the success of some previous works in New York. He decided to adopt America and became a citizen in 1943 while writing the songs on this program. Austrian composer Franz Schreker was one of the most highly regarded opera composers of his time, but his works were nearly forced into obscurity during the Nazi regime in the 1930s. Though not an opera and unlike any of his previous works, Vom ewigen Leben is a masterful expression of lyrical 20th-century work. A Sea Symphony, Ralph Vaughan Williams' diverse, large scale choral work, combines sea shanty elements and majesty to suggest the rolling changes of the human soul and the sea. Both Schreker and Vaughan Williams were drawn to Whitman's most famous collection, Leaves of Grass, seeking to create music worthy of Whitman's powerful poetry.

Tickets, priced at $25 / $40 / $55, are available on September 4 at, CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or the box office at 57th St & 7th Ave.

Sounds of the American Century

Friday, January 25, 2019

7 PM Conductor's Notes Q&A

8 PM Concert, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage

Leon Botstein, conductor

Charlie Albright, piano

Robert Mann: Fantasy for Orchestra

Jacob Druckman: Prism

Vivian Fine: Concertante for Piano and Orchestra (New York Premiere)

William Schuman: Symphony No. 3

New York City composers of the mid-20th century sought to define a new American sensibility in orchestral music. The abstract works of Robert Mann, legendary founder of the Juilliard Quartet, and Jacob Druckman - whose works were commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony - explored the possibilities of orchestral color and sound. Recently passed in January 2018, Mann's Fantasy for Orchestra serves as a fitting tribute on this program. The New York premiere of Vivian Fine's Concertante for Piano and Orchestra is one of some 140 works she wrote over the course of 68 years, making her one of America's most important composers. Pulitzer Prize-winner and Lincoln Center founding president William Schuman was a great champion of American music. His Symphony No. 3 was a pronounced popular success, premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1941 under Koussevitzky's baton, to whom it was dedicated. Schuman and Fine brought their compositional craft to the classical tradition of orchestral music with works marked by vitality, brilliance, and structural clarity.

Tickets, priced at $25 / $40 / $55, are available on September 4 at, CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or the box office at 57th St & 7th Ave.

The Key of Dreams

Friday, March 22, 2019

7 PM Conductor's Notes Q&A

8 PM Concert, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage

Leon Botstein, conductor

Bohuslav Martinu: Julietta (U.S. Premiere of the Czech version)

Based on the French play Juliette, ou La clé des songes (Juliette, or The Key of Dreams) by Georges Neveux, Martinu's operatic masterpiece Julietta is a lyric opera in three acts. One of the greatest 20th-century works for the stage, it explores the intersection of dreams and reality. Set in a seaside town, the psychological drama follows Michel, a traveling salesman, who finds himself in search of a mysterious girl whose voice he has been hearing for several years. In love with Julietta and realizing he is caught in a dream world, he must decide - should he stay in the dream or wake up? The works of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu remain relatively unknown in North America, yet he stands as a key 20th-century operatic composer with 14 wide-ranging operas in his catalogue. Julietta was first staged at Prague's National Theater in 1938 and features a libretto written in French by Martinu himself. The opera will be performed in Czech at this performance.

Tickets, priced at $25 / $40 / $55, are available on September 4 at, CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or the box office at 57th St & 7th Ave.

American Symphony Orchestra

The American Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski with a mission of making orchestral music accessible and affordable for everyone. Music Director Leon Botstein expanded that mission when he joined the ASO in 1992, creating thematic concerts that explore music from the perspective of the visual arts, literature, religion, and history, and reviving rarely-performed works audiences would otherwise seldom hear performed live.

The Orchestra has made several tours of Asia and Europe and performed in countless benefits for organizations including the Jerusalem Foundation and PBS. Many of the world's most accomplished soloists have performed with the ASO, including Yo-Yo Ma, Deborah Voigt, and Sarah Chang. The Orchestra has released several recordings on the Telarc, New World, Bridge, Koch, and Vanguard labels, and numerous live performances are also available for digital download. In many cases, these are the only recordings of some of the rare works that have been rediscovered in ASO performances.

The ASO's online-only issue of Weber's Euryanthe, recorded at the 2014 Bard Music Festival, was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal as "Musically rich, lyrical and expansive."

Leon Botstein

Leon Botstein has been music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992. He is also music director of The Orchestra Now, an innovative training orchestra composed of top musicians from around the world. He is co-artistic director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, which take place at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, where he has been president since 1975. He is also conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director from 2003-11. This year he assumed artistic directorship of Campus Grafenegg and Grafenegg Academy in Austria. Mr. Botstein also has an active career as a guest conductor with orchestras around the globe, and has made numerous recordings, as well as being a prolific author and music historian. He is the recipient of numerous honors for his contributions to the music industry.

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