American Symphony Orchestra Opens Season At Carnegie Hall 'A Walt Whitman Sampler'

American Symphony Orchestra's 2018-19 season will open with A Walt Whitman Sampler on October 17 at Carnegie Hall, and has announced that rising American soprano Angel Blue will sing the New York premiere of Franz Schreker's Vom ewigen Leben (From Eternal Life). Dubbed by Plácido Domingo as "the next Leontyne Price," the young opera singer and BBC Proms host/presenter will next appear in September at the Metropolitan Opera as Musetta in La Bohème, and in the Royal Opera's production of La Traviata as Violetta in January 2019. Canadian baritone Elliot Madore is the guest soloist for the New York premiere of Kurt Weill's Four Walt Whitman Songs. Praised for his "exceptional artistry" by The New York Times, this season he returns to the San Francisco Opera for the world premiere of John Adams' Girls of the Golden West directed by Peter Sellars, and makes his Berlin Philharmonic debut in L'enfant et les sortilèges. Both vocalists will also perform in Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony.

Leon Botstein shares the stories behind the music in a lively 30-minute Conductor's Notes Q&A at 7 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. 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
  • Angel Blue, soprano
  • Elliot Madore, baritone
  • Bard Festival Chorale

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.

This performance is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc.

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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