Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Orchestra of St. Luke to Welcome Susan Graham and Nicholas McGegan

Orchestra of St. Luke's welcomes superstar mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, as soloist on its final Carnegie Hall Orchestra Series concert of the season. Lauded "America's favorite mezzo," Graham will sing Britten's Phaedra and three works by Purcell in her only Carnegie Hall appearance this season.

The orchestra will be led by Nicholas McGegan, a favorite OSL collaborator. OSL's last Carnegie Hall concert with McGegan in 2013, a program of Mozart and Haydn, was declared "one of the most appealing, satisfying performances" of the season by The New York Times. Taking advantage of McGegan's affinity for music of the Classical era, as well as OSL's refined sound, the upcoming program again offers Haydn, featuring two of his later symphonies.

New Yorkers have the opportunity to hear Graham, who is a longtime OSL board member, as she highlights two composers with a flair for the theatrical and with exceptional skill in setting the English language-the 20th century's Benjamin Britten and the 17th century's Henry Purcell. Both English composers brilliantly capture the text's rhythmic flow and enhance its expressiveness through symbolic melodic choices, or text painting.

Written for the singer Janet Baker, Phaedra was structurally inspired by Baroque solo cantatas, accompanied only by the harpsichord and solo cello serving as the "basso continuo" repeating bass line. The story is of Phaedra's illicit love for her stepson, his rejection, and the revenge she takes that leads to his death and ultimately her suicide. Britten masterfully condenses the story into 15 minutes, told by just one singer, creating a miniature opera of astonishing power.

"Bess of Bedlam" is a mad song, a popular genre in Purcell's day. The singer has been driven mad by hopeless love and as a result, the music takes wild twists and turns in mood. The more somber "Music for a While," written as incidental music for Oedipus, is Purcell's finest example of his special talent for writing over a basso continuo. "Dido's Lament" from Dido and Aeneas, is his most famous aria and one of the most famous arias of all time; it is poignant and stunningly expressive. Having been deserted by her lover, Dido sings her heartbreaking resolve to end her life at the close of the opera.

The deeply emotional Britten and Purcell works are balanced and bookended by two Haydn symphonies written late in his career. "The Haydn symphonies are pure joy," says conductor Nicholas McGegan. "And Haydn was really at the top of his game when he wrote them." The Symphony No. 75 displays elements that became common in Haydn's later works, such as a slow introduction in the first movement and a hymn-like theme serving as the basis for a set of four variations in second movement. OSL's performance of the Symphony No. 75 will be the first Carnegie Hall performance of this work on record. Haydn's Symphony No. 98 exemplifies his ability to write music that was immediately accessible yet structurally innovative. Composed just after he learned of Mozart's death, the second movement serves as a requiem for his close friend and even quotes from Mozart's final symphony. The finale is one of Haydn's most brilliant, moving through an astonishing range of keys and calling on the solo violin to lead the return to the first theme-a surprising choice that delights audiences today as much as those in Haydn's time.

Ticketholders for the concert will have the opportunity to hear Susan Graham and Nicholas McGegan discuss the program and preview selections from the concert on Wednesday, April 6 at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Audience members will invited to sit around the orchestra, offering the chance to hear the music from a different vantage point and up closer than ever before. Champagne and light refreshments will be served and guests are invited to meet the artists and have CDs signed.

Orchestra of St. Luke's: Graham & McGegan
Presented by Carnegie Hall

Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage


HAYDN Symphony No. 75 in D Major, Hob. I:75
PURCELL "Bess of Bedlam" (From Silent Shades), Z. 370
PURCELL "Music for a While" from Oedipus, Z. 583
PURCELL "Dido's Lament" from Dido and Aeneas, Z. 626
HAYDN Symphony No. 98 in B-flat Major, Hob. I:98


Orchestra of St. Luke's
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano

For tickets ($15.50 - $90), call 212.247.7800, visit, or visit the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th Street at 7th Avenue.

Preview & Chat

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 6:00 PM


Enjoy a glass of champagne and take a seat anywhere around the orchestra for a new perspective. At this special preview of our final Carnegie Hall concert of the season, with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and conductor Nicholas McGegan, you'll experience OSL up closer than ever before. Hear selections from works featured on the concert Graham & McGegan, followed by a Q&A, meet-and-greet, and CD-signing with the artists.

Free with ticket purchase for the concert Graham & McGegan; reservations required. For concert tickets, call 212.247.7800, visit, or visit the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th Street at 7th Avenue. For Preview & Chat reservations, visit

About Orchestra of St. Luke's
Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 80 concerts each year-including its Carnegie Hall Orchestra Series, Chamber Music Series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and Caramoor Summer Season. In its 41-year history, OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres; and has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado is OSL's principal conductor.

OSL grew out of a chamber ensemble that began giving concerts at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village in 1974. Today, the 21 virtuoso artists of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble make up OSL's artistic core.

OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City's premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, including more than 400 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and schoolchildren at its home each year for free community events.

Through its Education & Community programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free interactive music programs at The DiMenna Center; provides chamber music coaching for adult amateurs; and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL), an intensive in- and after-school instrumental instruction program emphasizing musical excellence and social development, in partnership with community organizations and public schools in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Orchestra of St. Luke's is supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Office of the Manhattan Borough President, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You