Magdalena Kozena to Make New York Philharmonic Debut This Fall
Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été, with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Koená in her Philharmonic debut, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, Thursday, September 29, 2016, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, September 30 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, October 1 at 8:00 p.m. Continuing Philharmonic Free Fridays in the 2016-17 season, 100 free tickets to the concert Friday, September 30 will be made available to young people ages 13-26 (more information below).
In its review of Magdalena Koená's disc of French arias, including works by Berlioz, The Wall Street Journal wrote: "Ms. Kozená's light, spicy tone feels sophisticated, quintessentially French." BBC Music Magazine wrote: "This is exactly what the French repertoire has been pining for." For her services to French music, Magdalena Koená was appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2003.
The New York Times wrote of Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic's performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade in October 2012: "The orchestra sounded superb here as elsewhere; Mr. Gilbert led a full-blooded and kaleidoscopic rendition, with sensuous string playing and alluring woodwind solos that vividly evoked languid Arabian nights."
Philharmonic Free Fridays
The New York Philharmonic is offering 100 free tickets for young people ages 13-26 to the concert Friday, September 30 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays. Information is available at nyphil.org/freefridays. Philharmonic Free Fridays offers 100 free tickets to 13-26-year-olds to each of the 2016-17 season's 16 Friday evening subscription concerts.
As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic since 2009, Alan Gilbert has introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, and Artist-in-Association; CONTACT!, the new-music series; the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today's music; and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, partnerships with cultural institutions to offer training of pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies.The Financial Times called him "the imaginative maestro-impresario in residence."
Alan Gilbert concludes his final season as Music Director with four programs that reflect themes, works, and musicians that hold particular meaning for him, including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony alongside Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw,Wagner's complete Das Rheingold in concert, and an exploration of how music can effect positive change in the world. Other highlights include three World Premieres, Mahler's Fourth Symphony, Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre, and Manhattan,performed live to film. He also leads the Orchestra on the EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour and in performance residencies in Shanghai and Santa Barbara. Past highlights include acclaimed stagings of Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Janá?ek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson (2015 Emmy nomination), and Honegger's Joan of Arc at the Stake starring Marion Cotillard; 28 World Premieres; a tribute to Boulez and Stucky during the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL; The Nielsen Project; the Verdi Requiem and Bach's B-minor Mass; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey,performed live to film; Mahler's Resurrection Symphony on the tenth anniversary of 9/11; performing violin in Messiaen'sQuartet for the End of Time; and ten tours around the world.
Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and former principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra, Alan Gilbert regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. This season he returns to the foremost European orchestras, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, and Orchestra della Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He will record Beethoven's complete piano concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Inon Barnatan, and conduct Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, his first time leading a staged opera there. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award, and he conducted Messiaen's Des Canyons aux étoiles on a recent album recorded live at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. His honors include Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music (2010) and Westminster Choir College (2016), Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award (2011), election to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2014), a Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy (2015), Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2015), and New York University's Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City (2016).
Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Koená was born in the Czech city of Brno and studied voice and piano at the Brno Conservatory and later at Bratislava's Academy of Performing Arts. She has worked with the world's leading conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, James Levine, and Charles Mackerras, and she regularly appears as a soloist with the Berlin, Vienna, and Czech philharmonic orchestras and the Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw orchestras. Her recital partners include Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, and Mitsuko Uchida. Ms. Koená's understanding of historical performance practices has been cultivated in collaboration with period-instrument ensembles including the English Baroque Soloists, Gabrieli Consort and Players, Il Giardino Armonico, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Venice Baroque Orchestra, and Le Concert d'Astrée. She first performed at the Salzburg Festival in 2002 as Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and returned in 2013 as Idamante in Mozart'sIdomeneo (a role she has also sung for the Glyndebourne Festival and in Berlin and Lucerne). Ms. Koená has been a regular guest at The Metropolitan Opera since her first appearance in 2003. Other notable opera appearances include Angelina in Rossini's La Cenerentola at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden (in 2007); Oktavian in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at the Berlin Staatsoper (2009) and Baden Baden Easter Festival (2015); the title role in Bizet's Carmen at the Salzburg Easter and summer festivals (2012); Charpentier's Médée at Basel Opera (2015); and Martin?'s Juliette at the Berlin Staatsoper (2016). Ms. Koená was signed by Deutsche Grammophon in 1999 and released her first album of Bach arias on its Archiv label. Her recital debut recording of songs by Dvo?ák, Janá?ek, and Martin? appeared on Deutsche Grammophon's yellow label in 2001 and received Gramophone's Solo Vocal Award. Her most recent releases for Deutsche Grammophon include Monteverdi with La Cetra and Andrea Marcon (2016), Prayer for voice and organ with Christian Schmidt (2014), and Love + Longing with the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle.
Hector Berlioz's (1803-69) intimate song cycle Les Nuits d'été is a setting of six poems from an 1838 collection by Théophile Gautier, the French Romantic writer who was a close friend of the composer. Originally composed for voice and piano in 1840-41, the orchestral version came later, in 1856, at the request of Swiss publisher J. Rieter-Biedermann, who had attended a concert performance of one of the songs. The poems Berlioz selected are linked by the themes of love and parting, and the texts are filled with characteristic Romantic imagery: young lovers in spring (Villanelle), the haunting aroma of a faded rose blossom (The Spectre of the Rose), a grey tomb in the shadow of a yew tree (In the Cemetery), the plaintive lament for a lost lover (On the Lagoons), distance from a rose-colored smile (Absence), and the imaginings of distant and exotic lands (The Unknown Isle). The New York Philharmonic first performed the song cycle in April 1953, with Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting and soprano Eleanor Steber as soloist. The Philharmonic most recently performed the complete cycle in February 2012, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as soloist.
The allure of the colorful and mysterious realm of The Arabian Nights has endured for more than a millennium. During the 18th and 19th centuries, these ancient tales attracted new attention in Western Europe, an example of an idealization of the East that resonated with many artists. Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was one of them, and in 1888 he composed Scheherazade, a symphonic suite that remains one of his most popular works. The composer said that the plush musical dreamscape he created was not intended to be purely programmatic. Instead, he wanted listeners to experience "separate, unconnected episodes and pictures from The Arabian Nights, scattered through all four movements." The work had its World Premiere in St. Petersburg in 1888. The New York Symphony (which merged with the New York Philharmonic in 1928 to become today's New York Philharmonic) first performed this work in November 1905, conducted by Walter Damrosch. The Orchestra most recently performed it in July 2013 during its summer residency at Bravo! Vail, conducted by Alan Gilbert and featuring former Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow in the concertmaster solos.
Single tickets for this performance start at $34. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $20. Tickets may be purchased online at nyphil.org 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. A limited number of $18 tickets for select concerts may be available through the Internet for students within 10 days of the performance, or in person the day of. Valid identification is required. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. (Ticket prices subject to change.)
Pictured: Magdalena Koená. Photo: Oleg Rostovtsev.