Michael Tilson Thomas To Bring New World Symphony To Carnegie Hall
Next month, 2018-19 Carnegie Hall Perspectives Artist Michael Tilson Thomas brings to New York the postgraduate Fellows of his Miami-based New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy, which he co-founded more than 30 years ago as the nation's most innovative training ground for the next generation of classical musicians. As Artistic Director, he works with Fellows at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center to further their artistic and professional development-guiding them according to NWS's experiential curriculum of live performance, hands-on training, and community engagement.
NWS has produced more than 1,100 alumni, including many in leadership positions at major orchestras and musical institutions, and 15 of these NWS alumni join the Fellows in performance at Carnegie Hall. Participating alumni include members of the Cleveland, MET, and Philadelphia Orchestras; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and the Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh Symphonies. The concert programs include four New York premieres: a piece by Julia Wolfe co-commissioned by NWS and Carnegie Hall, and three compositions by MTT. Among the latter are a pair of solo piano works performed by fellow 2018-19 Perspectives Artist Yuja Wang.
On Wednesday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. at Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, MTT conducts NWS in Julia Wolfe's Fountain of Youth, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 5 with Ms. Wang, and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. The program on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Zankel Hall comprises MTT's Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, featuring soprano Measha Brueggergosman; Mahler's string orchestra arrangement of Schubert's String Quartet in D minor, D. 810, "Death and the Maiden" (edited by MTT, David Matthews, and Donald Mitchell); and Ms. Wang's performances of MTT's solo piano works Sunset Soliloquy and You Come Here Often?. These concerts are the final performances in MTT's and Ms. Wang's 2018-19 Carnegie Hall Perspectives series.
In addition to appearing with MTT at Carnegie Hall, select Fellows perform a pair of chamber recitals during NWS's trip to New York. On Tuesday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m., Fellows perform a program at Yamaha Artist Services that includes the world premiere of an NWS commission from 12 -year-old Jordan Millar, one of the New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers. The premiere will be streamed on Facebook Live. Following the Carnegie Hall performances, a group of 12 Fellows will remain in New York for a performance at Long Island's Parrish Art Museum on Friday, May 3 at 6:00 p.m.
Though Julia Wolfe has become known for serious works on topics like exploitative labor practices, she and MTT decided that for this co-commission, Fountain of Youth, the focus would be on "serious fun." In the new work, Ms. Wolfe pays tribute to "this incredible orchestra of young people" and MTT, "who is forever young," while also recalling Florida's legendary wellspring sought by Ponce de León in the 16th century. Ms. Wolfe added: "Many have searched for the Fountain of Youth. If we found it, what would it sound like?" The work receives its world premiere on April 26 at the New World Center in Miami and reflects MTT's and NWS's commitment to the music of our time.
In addition to championing works by his colleagues, MTT has been an active composer throughout his career. This facet of his artistry is on display when he conducts NWS in his song cycle Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, which has been described as "a remarkably cutting commentary on the deceptively fragile thing that is civilization" (Philadelphia Inquirer). Conceived in 1976 and completed 40 years later, the work was premiered by NWS and MTT with soloist Measha Brueggergosman in April 2016. Describing the genesis of the work, MTT said:
"The American Bicentennial was producing a great many self-congratulatory pieces. I remembered Carl Sandburg's acerbic poem from his early collection, Smoke and Steel, and thought its honky-tonk "Ozymandias" kind of message might be a cautionary contrast to all the celebratory huzzahs."
Scored for orchestra, bar band, solo soprano, and two backup singers, MTT's song cycle is characterized by juxtapositions of diverse styles and genres, all of which "provide just the right reactions to Sandburg, word for word, sentiment for sentiment, prophecy for prophecy" (Los Angeles Times). Since its world premiere, the work has also been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony, as well as at the Britt Music & Arts Festival. This spring, in addition to conducting the New York premiere at Carnegie Hall, MTT leads NWS in a performance of the work with Ms. Brueggergosman at the New World Center on April 20.
MTT's solo piano works You Come Here Often? and Sunset Soliloquy were completed in 2014 and 2018, respectively. Performed frequently by Ms. Wang as an encore, You Come Here Often? is a virtuoso piece based on a production number from a music theater piece MTT was contemplating in the 1970s. Sunset Soliloquy grew out of an improvisation more than 50 years ago and slowly evolved alongside its composer until being recently committed to score.
Michael Tilson Thomas is Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. During the 2018-19 season, he curates his second Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, conducting the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, San Francisco Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, and New World Symphony. He made his Carnegie Hall debut 50 years ago, leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1969. With this Perspectives series, he celebrates more than 100 performances at Carnegie Hall. In addition to conducting the world's leading orchestras, he is also noted for his work as a composer and as a producer of multimedia projects dedicated to music education and reimagining the concert experience. His compositions have been performed around the world, many premiering at Carnegie Hall during his first Perspectives series (2003-05). MTT has won 11 Grammy Awards for his recordings, is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. For more information, visit michaeltilsonthomas.com.
The New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy, prepares graduates of music programs for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. In the 30 years since its co-founding by Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas and Lin and Ted Arison, NWS has helped launch the careers of more than 1,100 alumni worldwide. A laboratory for the way music is taught, presented and experienced, the New World Symphony consists of 87 young musicians who are granted fellowships lasting up to three years. The fellowship program offers in-depth exposure to traditional and modern repertoire, professional development training, and personalized experiences working with leading guest conductors, soloists, and visiting faculty. Relationships with these artists are extended through NWS's distance learning via the internet. NWS Fellows take advantage of the innovative performance facilities and state-of-the-art practice and ensemble rooms of the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, the campus of the New World Symphony. For more information, visit nws.edu.