New York Phil Presents NEW YORK STORIES: THREADS OF OUR CITY
The New York Philharmonic will present New York Stories: Threads of Our City, January 14-27, 2019, two weeks of concerts and events examining New York City's roots as a city of immigrants. It will center on the World Premiere of Julia Wolfe's Fire in my mouth, co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, which reflects on the New York garment industry at the turn of the 20th century and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 garment workers, most of them young immigrants. New York Stories: Threads of Our City will also feature a program of new chamber music by composers influenced by their time in America; a special guided tour of the Tenement Museum featuring Philharmonic musicians; an archival exhibit featuring materials from the New York Philharmonic Archives, The Forward, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Archives at New York City; and a free Insights at the Atrium event.
"New York has great energy - I felt that when I came here as a student, and I still feel it today," said Music Director Jaap van Zweden. "The many immigrants who have come to New York bringing their cultures and points of view have added greatly to that vitality, just as the New York Philharmonic continues to be enriched by its many players from across the world. I am eager to work with Julia Wolfe on her multi-layered piece, which confronts a darker side to this city's history through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The many consequences of this tragic event reverberate more than a century later."
"I had been thinking about immigrant women in the workforce at the turn of the century. They fled their homelands to escape poverty and persecution. The garment workers arrived to these shores with sewing skills. Many of the women wound up working on these huge factory floors - hundreds of women sitting at sewing machines. Fire in my mouth tells the story of these women who persevered and endured challenging conditions, women who led the fight for reform in the workplace. I am thrilled to work with Jaap van Zweden and the huge incredible force of the New York Philharmonic to bring Fire in my mouth to life."
Music Director Jaap van Zweden will lead the World Premiere of Julia Wolfe's Fire in my mouth, January 24-26, 2019, a New York Philharmonic co-commission with Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley; the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The work reflects on the New York garment industry at the turn of the 20th century and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 garment workers, most of them young immigrants. The immersive, multimedia performance will feature the Philharmonic debuts of the Grammy Award-winning chamber choir The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally; the Young People's Chorus of New York City, directed by Francisco J. Núñez; scenic, lighting, video, and projection designer Jeff Sugg; and director Anne Kauffman.
The work's title refers not only to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, but also to Ukrainian immigrant and labor activist Clara Lemlich Shavelson, who, when looking back on her radical youth said, "Ah, then I had fire in my mouth." The music of Fire in my mouth evokes the roar of hundreds of sewing machines and the language of protest to recreate the world of women working in New York garment factories in the early 20th century, the majority of whom were Jewish and Italian immigrants. In writing the piece, Ms. Wolfe used her signature intensive research methods, drawing on oral histories, speeches, interviews, and historical writings. She workshopped Fire in my mouth with the Philharmonic's three university commissioning partners; campus-wide discussions about history, music, and creative writing informed the work. Jeff Sugg's scenic projection will complement and at times counterpoint the text and music, inducing emotional energy and illuminating hidden themes and perspectives.
Fire in my mouth is Julia Wolfe's third work in a series of pieces on the American worker; the others are Steel Hammer, her reimagining of the John Henry legend, and Anthracite Fields, her Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio about Pennsylvania coal miners, which the New York Philharmonic presented in its New York Premiere in 2014 and the recording of which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The composer took Anthracite Fields to Pennsylvania coal country to share it with the community that inspired her in a benefit concert for the Anthracite Heritage Museum. Julia Wolfe was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2016, and Musical America named her 2019 Composer of the Year.
The program will also include Stucky's Elegy from August 4, 1964 and Copland's Clarinet Concerto with Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill as soloist. Stucky's oratorio August 4, 1964 is based on a single date in Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency that led to both the United States's entrance into the Vietnam War and the galvanization of the Civil Rights Movement. Jaap van Zweden led the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in the work's World Premiere in Dallas and its New York Premiere at the 2011 Spring for Music festival at Carnegie Hall.
The New York Philharmonic will offer an allotment of free tickets to young people ages 13-26 for the concert on Friday, January 25 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays.
GRoW @ Annenberg Sound ON Series at The Appel Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center
World Premiere-Philharmonic Commission by Kinan Azmeh
And More Works by Composers Influenced by Their Time in America
Performed by Philharmonic Musicians
January 27, 2019
The second concert in the GRoW @ Annenberg Sound ON series will take place on January 27, 2019, with "Threads," presented as part of New York Stories: Threads of Our City. The program, hosted and curated by The Marie-Josée Kravis Creative Partner Nadia Sirota, will examine how diverse communities lend their voices to the creative conversation in the US through performances of music by composers who have been influenced by their time in America. The program will feature the World Premiere of a New York Philharmonic commission by Syrian composer / clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, as well as Chinese-American composer / violinist Chen Yi's At the Kansas City Chinese New Year Concert, Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas's tria ex uno, Brazilian-American composer Marcos Balter's Chambers, British composer / pianist / conductor Thomas Adès's Darknesse Visible, and Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy's Bulb.
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.
Philharmonic musicians will perform chamber music in a special guided tour of the apartments of the Tenement Museum,January 14, 2019. In addition, several Philharmonic musicians who immigrated to the US are sharing their stories on the Tenement Museum's Your Story, Our Story website; audience members will be invited to share their own immigration stories through booths set up in the hall during the January 24-26 concerts. Audience members who contribute their stories will also be entered into a raffle for tickets to Philharmonic concerts and Tenement Museum tours. These events are co-presented with the Tenement Museum.
The New York Philharmonic Archives will present the archival exhibit Immigrant New York: Celebrating the Workers and Musicians of Our City in the Bruno Walter Gallery on David Geffen Hall's Grand Promenade, exploring immigrant workers: both immigrant musicians of the Philharmonic, past and present, and factory workers. The exhibit will feature materials and documents from the holdings of New York Philharmonic Archives; The Forward, including its front-lines coverage of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and its aftermath as well as profiles of the victims; the Museum of the City of New York; and the National Archives at New York City.
A free Insights at the Atrium event connected to New York Stories: Threads of Our City will take place Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.
The New York Philharmonic's exploration of New York immigration will be echoed in the final Young People's Concert of the season, "Coming to New York - Immigrant Voices," on May 11, 2019. Conducted by Thomas Wilkins, co-hosted by Mr. Wilkins and Philharmonic Teaching Artist Jihea Hong-Park, the program will feature music by composers reflecting on the immigrant experience, including Bartók, Huang Ruo, Roberto Sierra, Kareem Roustom, and Gabriela Lena Frank, as well as works by students in the Very Young Composers program. The program will also be presented at David Geffen Hall May 8-10, 2019, for children in grades 3-12 as part of Young People's Concerts for Schools.
Single tickets to the January 24-26 program start at $33. Single tickets to the Sound ON performance are $45. (Ticket prices subject to change.) A limited number of $18 tickets for select concerts may be available for students within 10 days of the performance at nyphil.org/rush, 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, January 25 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays; learn more at nyphil.org/freefridays.
Photo: Peter Serling