Orchestra of St. Luke's Winter/Spring 2023-24 Features Performances On All Three Carnegie Stages

osl's winter/spring features three carnegie stages and music by bipoc composers

By: Dec. 06, 2023
Orchestra of St. Luke's Winter/Spring 2023-24 Features Performances On All Three Carnegie Stages

Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is in the midst of a banner season that includes a record six mainstage performances at Carnegie Hall, as well as significant ongoing series in both the venue's other performance spaces, Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall.

Following a sold-out collaboration with Lang Lang in October, upcoming performances in Carnegie's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage include Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Orff's Carmina Burana, a concert with violinist Isabelle Faust making her OSL debut, and a performance of Brahms's A German Requiem led by Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie. The annual OSL Bach Festival's three performances in Carnegie's Zankel Hall include a program of cantatas led by Jeannette Sorrell, making her OSL debut, with soprano Joélle Harvey; violinist Augustin Hadelich playing Bach transcriptions led by Labadie; and “Bach and Sons,” a program featuring the OSL debut of Kristian Bezuidenhout conducting from the fortepiano.

The concerts in OSL's Chamber Music Series, performed in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, comprise an all-Vivaldi concert featuring the virtuoso soloists of the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble; Beethoven's “Eroica” Symphony arranged for piano quartet with special guest Benjamin Hochman; and a pairing of Florence Price's String Quartet No. 1 with Mozart's Clarinet Quintet, featuring OSL Principal Clarinet Jon Manasse. The “Visionary Sounds” series, spotlighting contemporary artists in the intimate Cary Hall at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, features pianist Michelle Cann playing Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, and Wynton Marsalis's String Quartet, “At the Octoroon Balls.” OSL's annual free Five Borough Tour highlights Valerie Coleman's Portraits of Josephine, with special guest playwright and actor Kirya Traber; and the orchestra's free school concerts featuring Aureole, a landmark work by the great American choreographer Paul Taylor, with whose dance company OSL just completed a two-week Lincoln Center season. This prompted the New York Times to declare: “Live music has been a regular feature of recent Taylor seasons, yet it shouldn't be taken for granted. Playing Puts or Bach or Piazzolla, the Orchestra is an extraordinary asset for the Taylor troupe. May the partnership continue.”
 
James Roe, OSL's President and Executive Director, says about the upcoming winter and spring programming: “Orchestra of St. Luke's 2023-24 season vividly demonstrates the breadth of the orchestra's artistic ambitions and the audience's embrace of our programming. Capacity houses confirm the city's strong bond to New York's ‘hometown band.' Upcoming concerts range from the intimate to the monumental and from Baroque masterpieces to moving music of our time. Our Visionary Sounds series, now in its second season at our home, The DiMenna Center, features the chamber music of Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and Wynton Marsalis. Our Five Borough Tour – sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts – presents Valerie Coleman's Portrait of Josephine for free in all five boroughs, with Kirya Traber playing the role of Josephine Baker. Major chorale works play a prominent role this winter and spring, including Carmina Burana as part of Carnegie's citywide festival, Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice. This fall, the orchestra added 15 new virtuoso musicians to the roster, and looks forward featuring them throughout the season and in the years ahead. As the Orchestra of St. Luke's prepares for its 50th anniversary next season, we not only celebrate our legacy but look to the future with unprecedented optimism.”

OSL at Carnegie Hall

OSL's Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie leads the orchestra in three of its Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage programs this season, first with a work especially close to his heart: Bach's Christmas Oratorio. The celebrated La Chapelle de Québec chorus, founded by Labadie in 1985 and directed by him ever since, joins OSL for the performance. The oratorio's famously virtuosic arias are sung by soprano Lauren Snouffer, contralto Avery Amereau, tenor Andrew Haji and baritone Joshua Hopkins (Dec 7).

Next, Labadie conducts a program of favorites by Mozart and Brahms, beginning with Mozart's passionate Symphony No. 40 in G minor, one of only two minor-key symphonies the composer ever wrote and a pinnacle of his symphonic output. Rounding out the program is Brahms's complex Violin Concerto in D, a perfect showcase for soloist Isabelle Faust, praised by the New York Times for a sound that “has passion, grit and electricity but also a disarming warmth and sweetness that can unveil the music's hidden strains of lyricism” (Feb 8).
 
OSL's final Carnegie Hall performance of the season under Labadie's baton is an all-Brahms program centered on A German Requiem, featuring soprano Erin Morley, baritone Andrè Schuen making his OSL and Carnegie Hall debuts, La Chapelle de Québec and Ensemble Altera. Also on the program is Brahms's Begräbnisgesang (“Interment Song”) for SATB choir, twelve wind instruments and timpani. Composed a decade before A German Requiem, and originally incorporating strings along with the winds and percussion, Begräbnisgesang marks one of Brahms's first forays into the combination of voices with orchestra (May 9).

Additional performance presented by Carnegie Hall

As part of Carnegie Hall's Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice festival, OSL performs Carl Orff's iconic Carmina Burana this winter. The propulsive and at times explosive work returns to Carnegie Hall under the baton of Tito Muñoz and features soprano Ying Fang, tenor Nicholas Phan and baritone Norman Garrett, along with the Westminster Symphonic Choir and Young People's Chorus of New York City (Feb 27).

OSL Bach Festival in association with Carnegie Hall (June 4–25)

In June 2024, OSL returns to Carnegie's Zankel Hall to celebrate J. S. Bach's musical legacy with its annual OSL Bach Festival. Conductor and Baroque music specialist Jeannette Sorrell makes her OSL debut in the first program, joined by soprano Joélle Harvey, recently lauded by The Observer as a “bright, vivacious star.” Repertoire includes Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen and Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 (June 4).
 
OSL Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie, renowned worldwide for his interpretations of 18th-century repertoire, leads the second of the festival's three programs. His leadership of the St. Matthew Passion in 2022 was met with unanimous acclaim: the New York Times declared that under his baton “the music was unwaveringly measured but balanced; its flashes of grandeur didn't need to be overstated to land powerfully.” He leads guest soloist Augustin Hadelich in a program that centers on Bach's transcriptions of his own works for other instruments, in this case the Violin Concerto in D minor and the Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, transcribed for violin in G minor (June 18).
 
The festival concludes with a program titled “Bach and Sons,” in which the music of J. S. Bach is juxtaposed with that of his sons Johann Christian and Carl Philipp Emanuel. Kristian Bezuidenhout, whom The Guardian declares “above all … knows how to make a fortepiano sing,” makes his OSL debut as both conductor and soloist in the program, which concludes with an early masterpiece by the Bach family's spiritual descendant, Mozart (June 25).

“Visionary Sounds” at DiMenna Center

“Visionary Sounds,” launched in 2022-23, is an intimate concert series at The DiMenna Center that spotlights 20th- and 21st-century artists whose voices have expanded our concept of classical music, followed by complimentary receptions where musicians and audiences mingle.
 
The January “Visionary Sounds” program features Grammy Award winner Michelle Cann, one of the world's foremost interpreters of the music of Florence Price. Cann's program showcases works by Price for solo piano and piano/violin duo – for which the pianist will be joined on violin by OSL's Jesse Mills – as well as Spiritual Suite by Margaret Bonds (Jan 24).
 
The final “Visionary Sounds” program of the season features celebrated jazz artist Wynton Marsalis's “At the Octoroon Balls,” a string quartet inspired by the rich tapestry of his early life in New Orleans that showcases the city's cultural and musical traditions, performed by members of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble (March 27).

OSL Presents Chamber Music Series

OSL's Chamber Music Series hearkens back to the ensemble's roots in 1974, when it was formed by a group of virtuosic chamber musicians performing in Greenwich Village. Programs are performed in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. The series opens with “Vivaldi Virtuosi,” an all-Vivaldi holiday celebration of lively concertos spotlighting the virtuosos of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, plus the composer's famous variations on “La Folia” (Dec 13).
 
The second concert in the series features Beethoven's monumental Third Symphony, “Eroica” arranged for piano quartet, with the ensemble joined by pianist Benjamin Hochman. Also on the program are an evocative Debussy trio sonata, and a solo violin rhapsody by American violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery (Feb 21).
 
Last season's Chamber Music Series featured Florence Price's Piano Quintet in A minor, and in the spring the final concert of the series highlights Price again with her melodious String Quartet. On the same program is one of the best-loved works of the chamber music canon, Mozart's Clarinet Quintet, featuring OSL's Principal Clarinet Jon Manasse (April 10).

Education and Community Engagement Concert Series

Each season, OSL travels to all five New York City boroughs with its free Five Borough Tour, representing the orchestra's longstanding commitment to offering accessible performances to the New York City community. This season's program features Valerie Coleman's evocative woodwind quintet Portraits of Josephine, a musical homage that celebrates the life of the famed performer and social justice activist Josephine Baker. Playwright and actor Kirya Traber joins OSL to weave together Coleman's depictions of Baker's origins, adventures and legacy with her original narrative (March 7–21).
 
In December, OSL invites New York City's public-school students to attend Free School Concerts, outstanding classical music performances designed especially for young people. These OSL concerts reach more than 10,000 children annually, and for many it is their first live orchestral experience. For this winter's program, renowned choreographer and educator Caroline Fermin collaborates with OSL to guide students through an exploration of a landmark work by Paul Taylor, one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century. Orchestra of St. Luke's performs Aureole, set to the music of Handel, with Taylor Music Director David LaMarche conducting (Dec 12–14).

DeGaetano Composition Institute

OSL's annual DeGaetano Composition Institute is now in its fourth season and led in 2024 by Composer-Mentor Augusta Read Thomas, taking over from Anna Clyne (Composer-Mentor from 2019 to 2023). Named in honor of the late composer and pianist Robert DeGaetano (1946–2015), the institute supports the development of emerging composers and new works for chamber orchestra. Participants receive personalized mentorship, tailored professional guidance and creative opportunities over the course of seven months, culminating in a week-long residency in New York City and a world premiere performance by OSL. The culmination of the 2024 institute will be a concert of world premieres by Institute composers with conductor Brad Lubman conducting on July 23, 2024, at OSL's home, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

Other performances

On April 29 at New York's The Pierre, OSL's annual Gift of Music Gala, hosted once again by David Hyde Pierce, recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the world of music. The event includes cocktails, dinner, an OSL concert and dancing.
 
On the mainstage at Carnegie Hall, OSL joins MasterVoices and an all-star cast from opera and Broadway under the direction of Ted Sperling for the New York premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie's beautiful setting of Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck's epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Called “the great American opera” by Musical America, Gordon's opera incorporates American popular musical styles of the 1920s and 1930s, such as song-and-dance, sweet and rousing love songs, ballads with banjos, jazz choruses and a barbershop quartet (April 17).

About Orchestra of St. Luke's

Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) performs and produces in a variety of formats throughout New York City, including orchestra and chamber music series on each of Carnegie Hall's iconic stages, programs focused on contemporary composers presented throughout the five boroughs, collaborations with Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center, a composition institute, education and community engagement programs, and much more. Founded in 1974 when a group of virtuoso chamber musicians began performing together in Greenwich Village at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields, the ensemble expanded into an orchestra in 1979 and is today “a mainstay of New York's classical scene” (New Yorker) under the baton of Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie, a celebrated specialist in 18th-century music, along with special guests. OSL has participated in 120 recordings, four of which have won Grammy Awards, has commissioned more than 70 new works, and has given more than 200 world, U.S., and New York City premieres. OSL champions the work of historically underrepresented composers, including Florence Price, Julius Eastman, Joseph Bologne and others, along with living composers such as Valerie Coleman, Eleanor Alberga, Anna Clyne, Joan Tower and Wynton Marsalis. OSL's Education & Community Engagement programs have been a staple of its work since it first produced a staged opera for New York City public school children in 1976. Today, OSL continues to offer accessible, interactive concerts for students in addition to the 100-member Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL) program, now in its 10th season and the only youth orchestra under the umbrella of a professional group in New York City; concert tours that introduce classical music to new audiences; a mentorship program for pre-professional musicians; and the DeGaetano Composition Institute, which supports the development of emerging composers and commissions new works for OSL each season. OSL built and operates The DiMenna Center in midtown Manhattan – located in the nexus of Manhattan's burgeoning Hudson Yards neighborhood and the theater district near Times Square – the city's only rehearsal, recording, and performance space built specially for classical music. Thousands of local and international musicians create work at The DiMenna Center where they not only stage performances, but also rehearse, record and broadcast music enjoyed throughout the city and the world. 




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