Alan Gilbert to Conduct NY Phil in U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Clarinet Concerto, 9/23-30
Music Director Alan Gilbert will launch the New York Philharmonic's 2014-15 subscription season with the U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Clarinet Concerto -- a New York Philharmonic co-commission with the Gothenburg Symphony, WDR Symphony, Philharmonia, and Barcelona Symphony orchestras -- performed by Kari Kriikku in his Philharmonic subscription debut, as well as Mahler's Symphony No. 1, Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, September 26 at 11:00 a.m.; Saturday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.
The program highlights hallmarks of Alan Gilbert's tenure thus far: the combination of new and iconic repertoire, and collaborations with leading composers and artists. The Philharmonic co- commissioned Unsuk Chin's Clarinet Concerto following the well-received U.S. Premiere of her work Gougalon as part of CONTACT!, the Philharmonic's new-music series, conducted by Alan Gilbert in April 2013; the performance was named one of New York magazine's "10 Best Classical Performances of the Year." The performances will mark the Clarinet Concerto's U.S. Premiere as well as its first complete performance.
"Unsuk Chin has quickly become very close and important to the Philharmonic," Alan Gilbert said. "The musicians loved playing Gougalo?n, and the audience completely went crazy. There's something unique about the way she combines traditional sounds and instruments, turns it into something utterly fresh and modern, and at the same time stays true to her cultural heritage. Her music expresses something very deep and human."
Ms. Chin says that her Clarinet Concerto is, in part, about "'imaginary' or 'fake' folk music that is not related to any specific time or place. Extreme virtuosity takes turns with lyrical passages; sweet-toned and contemplative aspects are juxtaposed with fierce and surreal ones."
"The performance of Gougalo?n was a composer's dream: it was one of the most insightful, committed, and exciting performances imaginable," Unsuk Chin said. "I am absolutely thrilled that the New York Philharmonic has decided to co-commission my Clarinet Concerto. Kari Kriikku, Alan Gilbert, and the New York Philharmonic are all committed to music itself, not showmanship, and yet they have the most vibrant presence imaginable, keeping the listeners on the edge of their seats."
Kari Kriikku, for whom the concerto was written, performed its World Premiere with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, led by Kent Nagano in May 2014. Mr. Kriikku previously appeared with the Philharmonic as the soloist in the U.S. Premiere of then Marie-Jose?e Kravis Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto, led by Alan Gilbert at Carnegie Hall in February 2010.
The program will also include Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler, who served as Philharmonic Music Director from 1909 to 1911. Mahler himself conducted the work's U.S. Premiere with the New York Philharmonic in 1909, and the score he used in that performance -- which has also been used by Bruno Walter and Leonard Bernstein, among others -- remains in the New York Philharmonic Archives. Alan Gilbert conducted Mahler's First Symphony in May 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall and in July 2009 during the Concerts in the Parks, shortly before beginning his tenure as Music Director, as well as in October 2009 during the Orchestra's Asian Horizons tour, Alan Gilbert's first tour with the Orchestra.
"Unsuk's music fits perfectly with Mahler," Alan Gilbert said. "Mahler's First Symphony is one of my earliest memories of conducting the New York Philharmonic, and I'm excited to get back to it. I hope that my relationship with the piece will be different, new, and fresh. The musicians and I know each other better now and trust each other more, and when we play on stage together, there's more possibility of the unexpected happening."
- Pre-Concert Insights
Composer Victoria Bond will introduce the program. Pre-Concert Insights are $7; discounts available for multiple talks, students, and groups. They take place one hour before these performances in the Helen Hull Room, unless otherwise noted. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org/preconcert or (212) 875-5656.
- National and International Radio Broadcast
The program will be broadcast the week of November 2, 2014,* 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 program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., and will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org.
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. *Check local listings for broadcast and program information, which is subject to change.
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-Jose?e Kravis Composer-in-Residence, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in- Residence, and the Artist-in-Association; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today's music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers inaugurated in spring 2014. As New York magazine wrote, "The Philharmonic and its music director Alan Gilbert have turned themselves into a force of permanent revolution."
In the 2014-15 season Alan Gilbert conducts the U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Clarinet Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission, alongside Mahler's First Symphony; La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema; Verdi's Requiem; a staging of Honegger's Joan of Arc at the Stake featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard; World Premieres; a CONTACT! program; and Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. He concludes 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 EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour. Last season's highlights included the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL; Mozart's final three symphonies; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey alongside the film; a staging of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson; and the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour.
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. Rene?e Fleming's recent Decca recording Poe?mes, 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." In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Kari Kriikku performed the World Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Clarinet Concerto with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano in the spring of 2014. He will also perform the concerto throughout the 2014-15 season, including with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, and London's Philharmonia Orchestra. An award- winning interpreter of contemporary music, Mr. Kriikku collaborated with director Peter Sellars on Kaija Saariaho's award-winning D'OM LE VRAI SENS, a work written for Mr. Kriikku, who gave its premiere with the Finnish Radio Symphony, conducted by Sakari Oramo (the recording of which earned the Jury Award at the 2013 BBC Music Magazine Awards), and performed it with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by David Robertson; Swedish Radio Symphony and Orquestra Nacional do Porto, both with John Storga?rds; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with Esa-Pekka Salonen; and the Vienna Symphony Radio Orchestra, led by Cornelius Meister. Mr. Kriikku gave the work's U.S. Premiere with the New World Symphony, led by Susanna Ma?lkki, and further performed it with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, led by Vladimir Jurowski; Bergen Philharmonic, led by Juanjo Mena; and Tampere Orchestra, led by Santtu-Matias Rouvali. Additionally, Kari Kriikku has premiered Kimmo Hakola's Clarinet Concerto with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and Milan's Teatro alla Scala, both led by Semyon Bychkov, and Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, also led by Semyon Bychkov, at the 2007 Proms. Mr. Kriikku recorded all of these works for the Ondine label. He is also artistic director of Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, and in June 2009 he received the Nordic Council Music Prize. Kari Kriikku made his Philharmonic debut in the U.S. Premiere of Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto, conducted by Alan Gilbert at Carnegie Hall in February 2010.
Unsuk Chin's (b. 1961) Clarinet Concerto is a New York Philharmonic Co-Commission with the Gothenburg Symphony, WDR Symphony, Philharmonia, and Barcelona Symphony orchestras. It was premiered in May 2014 by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano, featuring soloist Kari Kriikku, for whom the work was composed. Ms. Chin says that in the first movement "the orchestra and soloist have almost mystic, whisper-like tones. Then the power builds over a long stretch until it breaks out into a kind of fanfare, a totally different color than at the beginning, with very festive gestures." The composer says the concerto explores the clarinet's "playful and ritualistic aspects.... The clarinet has a sound power that can cut through the orchestra, but the timbre is very particular. It was very difficult to create orchestral colors that would allow the soloist to integrate himself into a unified picture. If one is not careful, the clarinet occupies a completely different sphere." As milestones in her career, Ms. Chin's solo concertos highlight her development as a creative artist, and how she fully explores and shines a new light the range of possibilities not only of the instrument, but also of a particular performer's talents; of this work, the composer says Mr. Kriikku is "a musician of electrifying virtuosity, vivid imagination, and great culture."
Gustav Mahler began working on the ideas that grew into his Symphony No. 1 in 1876, when he was still a young man. The years between the completion of the work and its premiere in 1889 (with the Budapest Philharmonic, conducted by Mahler himself) were ones of artistic growth and experimentation, often marked by a preoccupation with the meaning of life. At first Mahler called the work a Symphonic Poem in Two Parts; he later gave its sections programmatic titles, such as "From the Days of Youth" and "Human Comedy," in part to help audiences comprehend the symphony's vast scope. Mahler eventually jettisoned descriptive titles and simply called it Symphony in D, with the added subtitle Titan, possibly a reference to a novel by Jean Paul. After further revisions, including the removal of a movement titled Blumine, however, the composer removed the subtitle. The Symphony No. 1 marked a radical expansion of symphonic ambition and content; it is highly dramatic, full of turmoil and struggle, moving from pastoral interludes and nature scenes to a sardonic funeral march, and on to a stirring finale that affirms the ceaseless energies of life itself. The Philharmonic gave the work's U.S. Premiere on December 16, 1909, conducted by the composer, and performed it most recently in October 2012, led by the late Rafael Fru?hbeck de Burgos.
Tickets for these performances start at $30. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $20. Pre-Concert Insights are $7; discounts are available for multiple talks, students, and groups (visit nyphil.org/preconcert for more information). Tickets may be purchased online at nyphil.org or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5:00 p.m. 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 $16 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.]
Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center
Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Open Rehearsal - 9:45 a.m.
Friday, September 26, 2014, 11:00 a.m. Saturday, September 27, 2014, 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Alan Gilbert, conductor Kari Kriikku**, clarinet
Clarinet Concerto (U.S. Premiere-New York Philharmonic Co-Commission with the Gothenburg Symphony, WDR Symphony, Philharmonia, and Barcelona Symphony orchestras)
Symphony No. 1
Alan Gilbert / Kari Kriikku / 6
Pre-Concert Insights (one hour before each concert) with composer Victoria Bond
** New York Philharmonic subscription debut
More information is available at nyphil.org/mahler. ALL PROGRAMS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.