Alan Gilbert Leads the NY Phil in Britten's 100th Birthday Celebration Tonight

Alan Gilbert Leads the NY Phil in Britten's 100th Birthday Celebration Tonight

Music Director Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in a celebration of the centennial of English composer, conductor, and pianist Benjamin Britten. The program will include Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, featuring tenor Paul Appleby and Philharmonic Principal Horn Philip Myers, and Britten's Spring Symphony, with soprano Kate Royal (in her Philharmonic debut), mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (Philharmonic subscription debut), tenor Paul Appleby, New York Choral Artists directed by Joseph Flummerfelt, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus directed by Dianne Berkun-Menaker. The concerts, which include a performance on the composer's 100th birthday, November 22, will take place tonight, November 21, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, November 22 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, November 23 at 8:00 p.m.

"I think Benjamin Britten is one of the truly great composers of the 20th century," Alan Gilbert said. "Spring Symphony is a piece that is not often performed but is a very fresh and inspired work about renewal and growth, one that New York should absolutely hear."

"Paul Appleby is one of the important young American singers," the Music Director continued. "Peter Pears, the great tenor for whom Britten wrote many of his tenor roles, had an incredibly intense way of expressing language, and I think Paul has that too: it's essential to Britten."

Paul Appleby and Philip Myers will also perform the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings on November 26, 2013, conducted by Alan Gilbert, on a program that also includes Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 39 and 41, Jupiter.

Related Events Pre-Concert Talks

Philharmonic Vice President, Artistic Planning, Edward Yim will introduce the program November 21-23. Author and lecturer Fred Plotkin will introduce the program November 26. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts available for multiple concerts, students, and groups. They take place one hour before each performance in the Helen Hull Room, unless otherwise noted. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: or (212) 875-5656.

National and International Radio Broadcast The program will be broadcast the week of December 15, 2013,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated weekly to more than 300 stations nationally, and to 122 outlets internationally, by the WFMT Radio Network.

The 52-week series, hosted by actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Brothers Fund, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philharmonic's corporate partner, MetLife Foundation. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. *Check local listings for broadcast and program information.

Artists Music Director Alan Gilbert began his New York Philharmonic tenure in September 2009, the first native New Yorker in the post. He and the Philharmonic have introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in- Residence; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and, beginning in the spring of 2014, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. "H

In addition to inaugurating the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, in the 2013-14 season Alan Gilbert conducts Mozart's three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Frieze coupled with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; four world premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer's centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film is screened; and a staged production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel. He continues The Nielsen Project - the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer's symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012 - and presides over the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour. Last season's highlights included Bach's B-minor Mass; Ives's Fourth Symphony; the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour; and the season-concluding A Dancer's Dream, a multidisciplinary reimagining of Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka, created by Giants Are Small and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.

Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies and holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School. Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award. Renée Fleming's recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. His recordings have received top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. In May 2010 Mr. Gilbert received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music and in December 2011, Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for his "exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music."

Philip Myers, The Ruth F. and Alan J. Broder Chair, joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Horn in January 1980. He has appeared as a Philharmonic soloist on numerous occasions, including in Schumann's Konzertstück for Four Horns, with Lorin Maazel in February 2007 and Kurt Masur in May 2001 as well as on tour; Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings led by André Previn in October 2001; and Mozart's Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon in March 2010, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert. He is a member of the New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet, which performs an annual Holiday Brass Concert at Avery Fisher Hall, and appears often internationally in conjunction with the Orchestra's tours. Mr. Myers began his orchestral career in 1971 with a three-year term as principal horn of the Atlantic Symphony in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was third horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1974 until 1977. As principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra for a season and a half, he made his solo debut with that ensemble in 1979, performing Richard Strauss's Horn Concerto No. 1 with Neville Marriner conducting. A native of Elkhart, Indiana, Philip Myers holds two degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He plays Engelbert Schmid French horns. He made his Philharmonic solo debut in January 1980 performing the premiere of William Schuman's Three Colloquies, led by Zubin Mehta; he most recently appeared with the Orchestra as soloist in October 2012 in Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 3, conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

Born in London, Kate Royal studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio. Her awards include the 2004 Kathleen Ferrier Award, the 2004 John Christie Award, and the 2007 Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award. In concert she has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival led by Charles Mackerras, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment led by Simon Rattle at BBC Proms and Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, at the Bach Akademie Stuttgart with Helmuth Rilling, the National Symphony Orchestra led by Helmuth Rilling, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic led by Vassily Petrenko, the Orchestra of La Scala Milan led by Myung-Whun Chung, the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Pablo Heras- Casado, Le Concert d'Astree led by Emanuelle Haïm, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra led by Robin Ticciati, the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by Thomas Adès, and both the Berlin Philharmonic and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra led by Simon Rattle. She has also appeared in recital throughout Europe and North America. Ms. Royal has recordEd Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with the Manchester Camerata and Schumann's Liederkreis (for the Hyperion label) with Graham Johnson. In October 2006 she signed an exclusive contract with EMI Classics, with whom her first solo recordings were a musical portrait with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Edward Gardner, Midsummer Night with the Orchestra of English National Opera and Gardner, and A Lesson in Love with Malcolm Martineau. Other concert engagements this season include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Verbier Festival, and the Berlin, London, and Rotterdam philharmonic orchestras. She has appeared at The Metropolitan Opera; Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Teatro Real, Madrid; English National Opera; the Paris Opera; the Glyndebourne, Lucerne, and Aix-en-Provence festivals; and Glyndebourne on Tour. This is Kate Royal's New York Philharmonic debut.

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is known for her symphonic, opera, chamber, and recital performances, and has performed roles in Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at San Francisco Opera and in John Adams's Doctor Atomic at The Metropolitan Opera. In the 2013-14 season she returned to the Hollywood Bowl in Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Michael Tilson Thomas; appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Pierre Boulez, Berlin's German Symphony Orchestra, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra; and makes her debut with the Indianapolis Symphony in Verdi's Requiem. Ms. Cooke will appear with her husband, baritone Kelly Markgraf, on New Year's Eve with the San Francisco Symphony. She also makes debuts with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Leipzig's MDR Orchestra. Following a return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Phillip Glass's The Civil Wars with Grant Gershon, Ms. Cooke will embark on a European tour with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony performing Mahler's Symphony No. 3. Additional highlights include debuts with Opéra National de Bordeaux and at London's Wigmore Hall, and chamber music performances with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Northwest, Celebrity Series of Boston, Da Camera of Houston, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Sejong Soloists in Goyang, South Korea. As a recitalist, she travels to the University of Little Rock Arkansas, Emory University, and Matinee Musicale in Duluth, Minnesota. Also this season she performs works by John Harbison, Lowell Lieberman, and Mohammed Fairouz; future seasons include premieres of works by Jake Heggie, Laura Kaminsky, and Mark Grey. Her recent album with the Colburn Orchestra, If You Love For Beauty, is available on Yarlung Records.

American tenor Paul Appleby is a recent graduate of The Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the recipient of a 2012 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Performing and Visual Arts. He has appeared with The Metropolitan Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Wolf Trap Opera, as well as concert engagements with the New York Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras. His 2013-14 season operatic engagements include debuts with Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Washington National Opera, and returns to The Met and Oper Frankfurt. His concert performances include Maverick Concerts, Carnegie Hall's "Britten Discovery Day," a recital at Pace University, and a joint recital with baritone Joshua Hopkins presented by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. Mr. Appleby has also been recognized with the 2012 Top Prize by the Gerda Lissner Foundation, the 2012 Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, the 2011 Richard Tucker Career Grant, and George London Foundation Award, and he was a National Winner of the 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A recipient of an artist diploma in opera studies at The Juilliard School, he received a master's degree from The Juilliard School and a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Music from the University of Notre Dame. Paul Appleby most recently appeared with the Philharmonic in his debut, performing Mozart's Mass in C minor, Great, conducted by Alan Gilbert, at Avery Fisher Hall in June 2012 and during the Orchestra's Bravo! Vail residency in July 2012.

New York Choral Artists, a professional chorus founded and directed by Joseph Flummerfelt, has been heard with the New York Philharmonic in recent seasons performing repertoire ranging from Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time to Mozart's Requiem. The chorus opened the Philharmonic's 2002-03 subscription season performing the World Premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the Philharmonic with Lincoln Center's Great Performers. Other highlights of the group's history include the 1995 Philharmonic concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, and a televised performance of the 1986 Statue of Liberty Concert in Central Park. The chorus performed Britten's War Requiem and Mahler's Symphony No. 8 during Lorin Maazel's final weeks as Music Director, and over the past few years collaborated with Music Director Alan Gilbert on Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, and Bach's B-minor Mass. For more than 40 seasons Joseph Flummerfelt has been preparing choral performances for the New York Philharmonic. Named Conductor of the Year in 2004 by Musical America, he is founder and musical director of the New York Choral Artists and an artistic director of Spoleto Festival U.S.A. He was conductor of the Westminster Choir for 33 years. He has collaborated with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Barenboim, Bernstein, Boulez, Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Gilbert, Giulini, Maazel, Masur, Mehta, Muti, Ozawa, Sawallisch, Shaw, and Steinberg. His choirs have been featured on 45 recordings, including Grammy Award-winning versions of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with Leonard Bernstein, Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, and John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls. He has also received two Grammy nominations, and his Delos recording of Brahms's choral works, Singing for Pleasure, with the Westminster Choir, was chosen by The New York Times as a favorite among Brahms recordings. Mr. Flummerfelt's honors include Le Prix du Président de la République from L'Académie du Disque Français and four honorary doctoral degrees. He is sought out as a guest conductor and master teacher of choral conducting. New York Choral Artists made its Philharmonic debut in December 1979 performing Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Mozart's Mass in C minor, Great, led by James Levine. The chorus's most recent appearance will be the November 2013 performances of Mozart's Requiem, led by Bernard Labadie.

Now in its 21st season, the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC), under the direction of founder and artistic director Dianne Berkun-Menaker, has performed with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, and Mariinsky Orchestra, and conductors Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Robert Spano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Leon Botstein. The BYC has performed with artists including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Grizzly Bear, John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield, Alicia Keys, and Judy Collins. Central to BYC's work is New Voices, an active commissioning program with the goal of creating innovative repertoire that challenges both singers and audiences. Among the composers BYC has commissioned are Pulitzer Prize-winners David Lang and Paul Moravec, Daniel Brewbaker, Bryce Dessner, Phil Kline, Fred Hersch, Andrew Lippa, James MacMillan, Joel Martin, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, Kirk Nurock, Richard Reed Parry, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Julia Wolfe, and Shara Worden. BYC has performed at BAM's Next Wave Festival, BAM's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Cincinnati's MusicNOW Festival, Park Avenue Armory's Tune-In Festival, the Prototype Festival, and the Bang on a Can Marathon at the River to River Festival. The young singers, who are drawn from all five boroughs of New York City, receive training from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy (BYCA), a performance- based vocal music education program. Dianne Berkun-Menaker was the artistic director for the 2012-13 Carnegie Hall Choral Institute, and is creator of BYCA's groundbreaking Cross-Choral Training program. BYC's first appearance with the Philharmonic was in 2002 for the premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, conducted by Lorin Maazel; the recording won a Grammy Award in 2005. It most recently participated in the Orchestra's 2012 presentation of Orff's Carmina burana, led by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

Repertoire Benjamin Britten composed his Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (1943) for legendary horn virtuoso Dennis Brain and tenor Peter Pears (the composer's life partner, for whom he wrote all of his most notable tenor roles). English poet and critic Edward Sackville-West, the Serenade's dedicatee and compiler of texts, provides an apt summary: "The subject is Night and its prestigia [tricks], the lengthening shadow, the distant haze at sunset, the Baroque panoply of the starry sky, the heavy angels of sleep, but also the cloak of evil - the worm in the heart of the rose, the sense of sin in the heart of man." Accompanied by string orchestra, the six "nocturnes" set poems by English authors spanning the 15th to 19th centuries; works include Charles Cotton's "The Day's Grown Old" (about the effects of the setting sun on the countryside, lengthening shadows and turning "brambles into tall cedars"), William Blake's darkly evocative "O Rose, thou art sick," and John Keats's "O soft embalmer of the still midnight," in which the poet asks sleep to "seal the hushèd Casket of my Soul." Britten indicates that the Serenade's solo horn Prologue and Epilogue be performed using the instrument's natural harmonics (i.e., without using valves), an unusual tuning for audiences accustomed to the common chromatic stale. The Philharmonic has only performed this work twice, both times with Philip Myers as horn soloist: in 1984, with conductor Gunther Herbig and tenor Peter Schreier, and in 2001, with André Previn and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey.

Spring Symphony (1949) is one of Benjamin Britten's less frequently performed masterworks, largely due to the huge forces required. Cast in four sections - somewhat like movements of a symphony - it is scored for very large orchestra (including cow horn in the fourth section), chorus, boys' choir, and three soloists. It was co-commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Inspired by the Suffolk countryside Britten loved, the work represents "a symphony not only dealing with the Spring itself but with the progress of Winter to Spring and the reawakening of the earth and life which that means," Britten explained. The 14 poems include Edmund Spenser's "The Merry Cuckoo," William Blake's "Sound the Flute," and W.H. Auden's "Out on the Lawn I Lie in Bed." Each of the settings collected within the "movements" has its own personality, something Britten achieves by varying the performing forces and effects (the boys' choir, for example, also whistles), ending with the full-throated climax, "Sumer is icumen in." The Philharmonic's only previous performance of the Spring Symphony was in 1963 conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

** * Credit Suisse is the Global Sponsor of the New York Philharmonic.

** * Classical 105.9 FM WQXR is the Radio Home of the New York Philharmonic.

** * Programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. (more)

Alan Gilbert / Britten's 100th Birthday / 6


Tickets for these concerts start at $29. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $18. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts are available for multiple concerts, students, and groups (visit for more information). All other tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the Avery Fisher Hall Box Office. The Box Office opens at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. On performance evenings, the Box Office closes one-half hour after performance time; other evenings it closes at 6:00 p.m. A limited number of $13.50 tickets for select concerts may be available through the Internet for students within 10 days of the performance, or in person the day of. Valid identification is required. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. [Ticket prices subject to change.]

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