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Semyon Bychkov Conducts the NY Phil in BELOVED FRIEND, Today

Conceived, curated, and conducted by Semyon Bychkov, the New York Philharmonic presents Beloved Friend - Tchaikovsky and His World: A Philharmonic Festival, a three-week festival featuring orchestral, chamber, and vocal programs that explore music by Tchaikovsky and composers who influenced or were influenced by him, from January 24 to February 11. Beloved Friend continues the Philharmonic's recent tradition of annual, multi-week festivals, with Mr. Bychkov focusing this year's festival on Tchaikovsky as part of his international, multi-season Tchaikovsky project, Beloved Friend, which also includes recordings and additional concert series.

Orchestral performances take place at David Geffen Hall, and tickets are available, the David Geffen Hall Box Office, or by calling 212-875-5656. Ticket prices vary by concert. Additional performances take place at Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, and the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. (See below or for complete festival listings and ticketing details.)

Mr. Bychkov conducts the Philharmonic in the festival's three orchestral programs:

  • He opens the first orchestral program, January 26-28, with Glinka's Valse fantaisie, followed by Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto, featuring Yefim Bronfman, and the Fifth Symphony. The Philharmonic gave the world premiere of the concerto in 1881.
  • The second orchestral program, February 2-4 and 7, features Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, based on the poem by Lord Byron, and the New York premiere of the 1879 urtext edition of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, performed by Kirill Gerstein. This edition of the concerto reflects the way that the composer himself conducted the work during his one and only US tour in 1891, which included the opening of Carnegie Hall.
  • The final program of the festival, February 9-11, features Mr. Bychkov conducting Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony ("Pathétique") and Francesca da Rimini, as well as Tchaikovsky protégé Sergei Taneyev's Oresteia Overture. Both of these Tchaikovsky works were given their US premieres by the Philharmonic; Francesca da Rimini in 1878, and the Sixth Symphony in 1894.

This programming demonstrates that Tchaikovsky, with his Western and Russian influences and his efforts to bring his works to European and American audiences, was an important bridge between the musical and cultural worlds of the nationalists and his more internationally oriented students. The festival's title takes its name from the sobriquet Tchaikovsky used when addressing his patron, Baroness Nadezhda von Meck, in their correspondence.

Reflecting on Tchaikovsky and the Philharmonic festival, Mr. Bychkov said: "I've loved Tchaikovsky's music ever since I can remember growing up and coming into contact with it for the first time. Like all first loves, this one never died. In the music of Tchaikovsky, what is on the surface is beautiful melodies. But the depth of it is tremendous sophistication of harmonic and rhythmic writing. We keep discovering in them so much more about ourselves. In this festival we wanted to reunite composers around Tchaikovsky, to show that nothing exists in isolation. Every musical culture has its genetics. It was Tchaikovsky, after all, who said that from the bud of Glinka's music, the entire Russian music grew. Tchaikovsky certainly was a child of that."

On the eve of his first festival performance, Mr. Bychkov speaks in a presentation of the Philharmonic's Insights at the Atrium series. Joined by moderator and Philharmonic Vice President of Artistic Planning, Edward Yim, Mr. Bychkov will discuss the inspiration behind the festival's programming and music.

Additional festival performances include a program of songs by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Taneyev, and Anton Rubinstein at Merkin Concert Hall (co-presented by the Kaufman Music Center and New York Festival of Song); Tchaikovsky's chamber music with Yefim Bronfman and Philharmonic musicians at 92nd Street Y (co-presented by the Philharmonic and 92nd Street Y); and Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil (Vespers) performed by the Westminster Symphonic Choir, directed by Joe Miller, at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle.

The larger Beloved Friend project, of which this festival is a part, derives from Mr. Bychkov's lifelong fascination and career-long engagement with Tchaikovsky's music. He launched Beloved Friend in October 2016 with a BBC Symphony Orchestra concert series at the Barbican Centre and also with the release of the first recording in a Tchaikovsky cycle with the Czech Philharmonic for Decca Classics. The recording features Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony ("Pathétique") and Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture. In addition to these initiatives and the New York Philharmonic festival, Tchaikovsky residencies are planned for Paris and Vienna. Throughout his career, Mr. Bychkov has achieved recognition for his Tchaikovsky performances; he has conducted Tchaikovsky's music on seven recordings and his recording of Eugene Onegin with the Orchestre de Paris was hailed by Opera Magazine as one of the 30 "all-time great recordings."

One of the world's leading conductors, Semyon Bychkov has achieved international recognition for an approach to music making that combines innate musicality with the rigors of Russian music pedagogy. He has conducted virtually all of the major orchestras in the US and Europe and previously served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, and Orchestre de Paris, and chief conductor of the Dresden Semperoper, in addition to the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. Mr. Bychkov currently holds the Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he appears annually at the BBC Proms. In 2015, the International Opera Awards named him "Conductor of the Year." Website:

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