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MUSIC OF CONSCIENCE To Conclude New York Philharmonic Season

MUSIC OF CONSCIENCE To Conclude New York Philharmonic Season

The New York Philharmonic will conclude the 2018-19 subscription season with Music of Conscience, May 22-June 8, 2019,three weeks of concerts and events exploring the ways in which composers have used music to respond to the social and political issues of their times. Music Director Jaap van Zweden will conduct all three orchestral programs: the World Premiere of David Lang's opera prisoner of the state, a retelling of Beethoven's Fidelio; John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, his "personal response to the AIDS crisis"; and Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, about his struggles under Stalin, alongside Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, originally dedicated to Napoleon until the composer angrily redacted the inscription.

Music of Conscience will also feature two new-music programs, an archival exhibit, panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display, and free public discussions and performances. Partners include The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, the International Rescue Committee, Stonewall 50 Consortium, and El Puente.

As a preamble to Music of Conscience, the Saturday Matinee Concert on April 27 will be followed immediately by New York Philharmonic musicians performing original compositions by Very Young Composers from New York City and high-risk areas in the Middle East and South and Central Americas. Very Young Composers founder Jon Deak will host, and composer David Lang and International Rescue Committee in New York executive director Avigail Ziv will speak.

Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony
Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica
May 22-23, 25, and 28, 2019

Music of Conscience will open with Jaap van Zweden leading two works written in opposition to tyrants: Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica, May 22-23, 25, and 28, 2019. Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony (orchestrated by Barshai) derives from his String Quartet No. 8, written in three days while the composer was visiting Dresden 15 years after it was razed in an Allied bombing; the quartet is inscribed "in memory of victims of fascism and war," although Shostakovich was later quoted as saying that it was actually autobiographical, about his struggles and terror under Stalin. Beethoven initially dedicated his Eroica Symphony to Napoleon, but angrily scratched out the dedication when Napoleon crowned himself Emperor, denouncing him as "a tyrant ... who will think himself superior to all men"; the disillusioned composer then inscribed the manuscript to "the memory of a great man."

The New York Philharmonic Archives will present the exhibit Music of Conscience: The Orchestral World Responds in the Bruno Walter Gallery on David Geffen Hall's Grand Promenade, May 16-June 8, 2019. Since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the New York Philharmonic has used music to speak to the political and cultural crises of the day. This exhibit examines the New York Philharmonic's history of politics in the concert hall, as well as how other major orchestras and musicians have responded to current events. Highlights include:

  • A letter from New York Philharmonic musicians to Arturo Toscanini thanking him for his stance against Fascism during World War II
  • Bernstein's marked score of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, used for the first television broadcast of a Mahler symphony in memory of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in November 1963
  • Audience letters reacting to the performance of German music - "music of the enemy" - during World War I
  • Photographs from the New York Philharmonic's, Boston Symphony Orchestra's, and The Philadelphia Orchestra's visits to China and the USSR during the Cold War

John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1
Brahms's Tragic Overture
Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 with David Fray
May 30 and June 1, 2019

In the second Music of Conscience program, Jaap van Zweden will conduct John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, May 30 and June 1, 2019. The symphony is his "personal response to the AIDS crisis" and was inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The New York Philharmonic gave the symphony's New York Premiere in January 1992 in a program "dedicated to those who have died of AIDS, those who are living with AIDS, and those who help and support them." The program will also feature Brahms's Tragic Overture and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24, with David Fray as soloist.

The New York Philharmonic and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center will co-present "Art and LGBTQ Activism: Music with a Social Conscience," Wednesday, May 29, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. at The LGBT Community Center, a free public discussion of LGBTQ issues and art as activism with composer John Corigliano; Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda; and moderator Rich Wandel, The Center's founding archivist, longtime activist, and former New York Philharmonic Associate Archivist. The discussion will be preceded by a performance.

Audience members at the New York Premiere of John Corigliano's First Symphony inscribed the names of AIDS victims they knew on a fabric panel that then became part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and remains the world's largest community art project. That panel - as well as other panels honoring New York City musicians who died of AIDS - will be on display on the David Geffen Hall Grand Promenade during the May 30 and June 1 performances and at the free public discussion at The LGBT Community Center on May 29.

The free public discussion and the New York Philharmonic's performances of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 are part of the official celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, under the auspices of the Stonewall 50 Consortium.

World Premiere-Philharmonic Co-Commission of
David Lang's prisoner of the state
June 6-8, 2019

Music of Conscience will conclude with the World Premiere of David Lang's opera prisoner of the state (co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic in collaboration with Rotterdam's de Doelen and London's Barbican, Barcelona's l'Auditori, Bochum Symphony Orchestra, and Bruges's Concertgebouw), June 6-8, 2019. With a libretto by the composer that self-consciously refers to Beethoven's opera, Fidelio, prisoner of the state tells the story of a woman who disguises herself as a prison guard to rescue her husband from unjust political imprisonment. The fully staged production will feature the Philharmonic debuts of soprano Julie Mathevet as The Assistant, tenor Alan Oke as The Leader, and baritone Jarrett Ott as The Prisoner, as well as bass-baritone Eric Owens as The Jailor. It will be directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer - who has directed works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others - in her Philharmonic debut.

David Lang said: "prisoner of the state is built on the skeleton of Beethoven's opera, Fidelio. I began with the various versions of Beethoven's libretto, looking for things that I thought were odd or interesting, and then I wrote my libretto to comment on them. The characters of the original, the story, the performance history - all of these became meaningful for me to think about, to comment on, and to adapt. Fidelio has a long tradition of being presented in concert rather than staged, and since my piece is a comment on all aspects of the original I wanted to have prisoner of the state float in between these two worlds, between the opera house and the concert hall. It is a fully staged opera with a symphony orchestra on stage."

Director Elkhanah Pulitzer said: "The emphasis in the design is on the psychological space of prisons and imprisonment, the graphic quality of iconic spaces related to prisons, and the surveillance that pervades our current culture. The Orchestra being onstage is critical to the work itself. The Orchestra is present and ambiguously cast: they're observers of the story unfolding and simultaneously participants inside of the prison, vacillating between performance as punitive requirement and performance as a creative act of defiance."

The New York Philharmonic will offer an allotment of free tickets to young people ages 13-26 for the concert on Friday, June 7 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays.

Related free events will take place at El Puente on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. and as part of Insights at the Atrium on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. Details will be announced at a later date.

Nightcap: Curated by John Corigliano
Kravis Nightcap Series at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse
Hosted by Nadia Sirota; Performances by New York Philharmonic Musicians
June 1, 2019

The performances of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 will be complemented by the 2018-19 season's final Nightcap concert on June 1, 2019, at 10:30 p.m., curated by John Corigliano, hosted by Nadia Sirota, and featuring music by composers whose lives were cut short by AIDS.

The Kravis Nightcap series presents six late-night, cabaret-style concerts curated by contemporary composers who engage in conversation about the music with host Nadia Sirota, The Marie-Josée Kravis Creative Partner. Taking place at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse after select subscription programs, these events explore themes related to those Philharmonic concerts in a casual setting.

Sound ON: "Response"
GRoW @ Annenberg Sound ON Series at The Appel Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center
World Premiere-Philharmonic Commission by Gabriella Smith
Performed by New York Philharmonic Musicians
June 2, 2019

The third and final Sound ON concert of the 2018-19 season, "Response," will take place on June 2, 2019. Hosted and curated by Nadia Sirota, the program will feature contemporary music of conscience, including the World Premiere of Gabriella Smith's Divisible, commissioned by the Philharmonic, as well as Caroline Shaw's First Essay: Nimrod, David Lang's spartan arcs and wiggle from memory pieces, the US Premiere of Judd Greenstein's The Seeming Disorder of the Old City, and Steve Reich's Different Trains.

The GRoW @ Annenberg Sound ON series - three Sunday afternoon chamber concerts at The Appel Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center - presents contemporary chamber repertoire performed by Philharmonic musicians. The concerts dive deeper into the season's key initiatives and explore the music of our time through the performer's lens. Host and curator Nadia Sirota, The Marie-Josée Kravis Creative Partner, leads conversations with the musicians, exploring what they love about the works they are performing - what is difficult, new, and unexpected.

Tickets to the subscription programs start at $34. Tickets to the Sound ON performance are $45. Tickets to the Nightcap performance are $25. (Ticket prices subject to change.) Tickets to Open Rehearsals are $22. A limited number of $18 tickets for select concerts may be available for students within 10 days of the performance at, or in person the day of; valid identification is required. The New York Philharmonic is offering an allotment of free tickets to young people ages 13-26 for the concert Friday, June 7 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays; learn more at Tickets to the New York Philharmonic performances may be purchased online at or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the David Geffen Hall Box Office. The Box Office opens at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. On performance evenings, the Box Office closes one-half hour after performance time; other evenings it closes at 6:00 p.m.

Free tickets to the events at The LGBT Community Center are available at; tickets to the El Puente event will be available at a later date. Insights at the Atrium events are free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Subscribers, Friends at the Affiliate level and above, and Patrons may secure guaranteed admission by emailing Space is limited.

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