David Robertson To Conduct the New York Phil In 27th Annual Free Memorial Day Concert
David Robertson will conduct the New York Philharmonic in Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Saint-Saëns's Symphony No. 3, Organ, with Philharmonic organist Kent Tritle, at the 27th Annual Free Memorial Day Concert, Monday, May 28, 2018, at 8:00 p.m. at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. 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.
Since it was introduced in 1992, this gift to the people of New York City has become both a day of musical remembrance and a traditional start of the Philharmonic's summer activities, with The New Yorker calling it "one of the orchestra's most admirable traditions." David Robertson has previously led the New York Philharmonic's Annual Free Memorial Day Concert twice before, in 2008 and 2009.
The Orchestra performed these two works earlier in the season, led by Antonio Pappano. New York Classical Review wrote that "the intimate playing of the chamber ensemble at the [Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis's] core was tight and responsive, beautifully complemented by each entrance of the full orchestra, coming in like a warm breeze," and that "the strings brought a searing, anxious energy" to the first movement of the Organ Symphony.
David Robertson - conductor, artist, thinker, and American musical visionary - occupies some of the most prominent platforms on the international music scene. A highly sought-after podium figure in the worlds of opera, orchestral music, and new music, Mr. Robertson is celebrated worldwide as a champion of contemporary composers, an ingenious and adventurous programmer, and a masterful communicator whose passionate advocacy for the art form is widely recognized. Currently in his valedictory season as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and his fifth season as chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, he has held artistic leadership positions at musical institutions including the Orchestre national de Lyon and, as a protégé of Pierre Boulez, the Ensemble InterContemporain. He held the post of principal guest conductor at the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Robertson has been an artist on the Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall, where he has conducted, among others, The Met Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. He appears regularly in Europe with Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony and Dresden Staatskapelle orchestras and at the Berlin Festival, Edinburgh Festival, BBC Proms, and Munich's Musica Viva Festival. In March 2018 Mr. Robertson returned to The Metropolitan Opera to conduct the premiere of Phelim McDermott's new production of Mozart's Così fan tutte. Since his Met Opera debut in 1996, with Janá?ek's The Makropulos Case, he has conducted a wide range of Met projects, including the house premiere of John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer (2014), the 2016 revival of Janá?ek's Jen?fa,and the premiere production of Nico Muhly's Two Boys (2013). He has frequent projects at the world's most prestigious opera houses, including Milan's Teatro alla Scala, Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet, and the San Francisco and Santa Fe Operas. During his 13-year tenure with the St. Louis Symphony, Mr. Robertson's fruitful relationships with artists, including composer John Adams, have yielded numerous recordings, such as City Noir (Nonesuch, 2014), which won the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Mr. Robertson is the recipient of numerous musical awards and is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. David Robertson is devoted to supporting young musicians and has worked with students at numerous festivals internationally. In 2014 he led the U.S. tour of Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra of the USA. In the fall of 2018 he will assume the position of director of Conducting Studies, Visiting Distinguished Faculty, at The Juilliard School. David Robertson made his New York Philharmonic debut in April 2001 leading works by Wagner, Schoenberg, and Beethoven; he most recently led the Orchestra in music by Prokofiev and Holst in May 2016.
Kent Tritle has been the organist of the New York Philharmonic since 1994 and of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1993. He is also director of cathedral music and organist at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City, where he leads the Great Music in a Great Space series; chair of the organ department and director of choral activities at the Manhattan School of Music; and music director of the Oratorio Society of New York and Musica Sacra. Mr. Tritle is featured in the Philharmonic's recordings of Brahms's A German Requiem, Britten's War Requiem, and Henze's Symphony No. 9, all conducted by Kurt Masur, and the Grammy-nominated Sweeney Todd, conducted by Andrew Litton; the DVDs The Organistasand Creating the Stradivarius of Organs; and the CDs The Romantic Organ and Kent Tritle at St. Ignatius Loyola, among many others. He has appeared as a recitalist at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Zurich's Tonhalle, Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, King's College (Cambridge), Westminster Abbey, and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. As a choral conductor, Kent Tritle led the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola in more than 150 concerts presented by the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series from 1989 to 2011. He served as music director of the Emmy-nominated Dessoff Choirs (1996-2004) and host of The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle, a weekly radio program on WQXR (2010-14). In 2013 Mr. Tritle conducted a recording of Juraj Filas's Requiem, Oratio Spei, dedicated to the victims of 9/11, with the Prague Symphony Orchestra; vocal soloists Ana María Martínez, Matthew Plenk, and Filip Bandzak; and the Kühn Choir. He has been featured on ABC World News Tonight, NPR, and Minnesota Public Radio, as well as in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Kent Tritle made his New York Philharmonic solo debut in Saint-Saëns's Symphony No. 3, Organ, in October 2006; he most recently appeared as soloist with the Orchestra in Saint-Saëns's Symphony No. 3, Organ, in February 2018, led by Antonio Pappano.
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) based his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis on the "Third Mode Melody" that composer Thomas Tallis (ca. 1505-85) had contributed to Archbishop Matthew Parker's Whole Psalter Translated into English Metre in 1567. Vaughan Williams had included the tune in the 1906 revised English Hymnal, which he was editing at the time, using it as the melody for Joseph Addison's When Rising from the Bed of Death. The third mode (known as the Phrygian) is present throughout English folk music, and Vaughan Williams built on that presence, Tallis's tune, and other structural underpinnings to create a sonic bridge between the Tudor and Edwardian eras. A London Times reviewer wrote after the work's premiere that "one is living in two centuries at once ... It cannot be assigned to a time or school but it is full of the visions which have haunted the seers of all times." The work was premiered at Gloucester Cathedral's Three Choirs Festival in September 1910, and the composer revised the work twice, in 1913 and 1919. The Philharmonic's first presentation of Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was in March 1922 by the New York Symphony (which merged with the New York Philharmonic in 1928 to form today's New York Philharmonic), led by Walter Damrosch; the Orchestra's most recent performance was in February 2018 led by Antonio Pappano.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was an accomplished organist, and he prominently featured the instrument in his 1886 Symphony No. 3, Organ. In the program note for the premiere, Saint-Saëns wrote: "This Symphony, divided into two parts, nevertheless includes practically the traditional four movements: the first, checked in development, serves as an introduction to the Adagio, and the scherzo is connected after the same manner with the finale. The composer has thus sought to shun in a certain measure the interminable repetitions which are more and more disappearing from instrumental music." Dedicated to the memory of Franz Liszt, who had died in June 1886, it was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Society, which gave its World Premiere in May 1886, conducted by Saint-Saëns himself. The work was immediately well received, and when it was heard in Paris several months after its premiere, Gounod allegedly declared, "There is the French Beethoven." Saint-Saëns himself wrote: "With it I have given all I could give. What I did I could not achieve again." The New York Philharmonic gave the work's U.S. Premiere in February 1887, conducted by Theodore Thomas. The Orchestra's most recent performance was in February 2018 led by Antonio Pappano and with Kent Tritle as soloist.