Concertmaster Frank Huang To Lead New York Philharmonic
Concertmaster Frank Huang will lead the New York Philharmonic from his chair as Concertmaster in a program spotlighting the Orchestra's string section. The concerts will feature Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3, with Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples as soloist; Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik; and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, and take place on Thursday, May 31, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 1 at 11:00 a.m.; Saturday, June 2 at 8:00 p.m.; Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Frank Huang made his New York Philharmonic solo debut leading the Orchestra from his violin in June 2016. "Not having a conductor gives us a little room to explore," Mr. Huang said. "I'm always interested in finding new ways that it could work, and my colleagues, with whom I love working, may have some ideas that I haven't thought of."
"It's always a great honor to stand up in front of my colleagues and play a concerto," said Sheryl Staples. "It's a very different experience to be the solo voice instead of being one of a very elegant, finely crafted tapestry in the Orchestra. This concerto was actually the first piece I ever played with an orchestra, when I was 12 years old. The last time I played it was when I was 20. It will be fun to revisit the piece and approach it from a different place in my life."
Mr. Huang and Ms. Staples are stand partners as well as collaborators in the New York Philharmonic String Quartet. "What a fantastic colleague, violinist, and musician," Mr. Huang said of Ms. Staples. "Sheryl and I got along right away when I came. We've become close, and I'm really excited to accompany her in this concerto." "Frank and I work really, really well together," Ms. Staples said. "Playing in the Quartet together has accelerated our getting to know each other on the job, musically and personally."
Philharmonic Free Fridays
The New York Philharmonic is offering an allotment of free tickets to young people ages 13-26 for the concert Friday, June 1 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays. Philharmonic Free Fridays offers a limited number of free tickets to 13-26-year-olds to many of the 2017-18 season's Friday subscription concerts. Information on the 2017-18 season of Free Fridays is available at nyphil.org/freefridays.
Frank Huang joined the New York Philharmonic as Concertmaster, The Charles E. Culpeper Chair, in September 2015. The First Prize Winner of the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation's Violin Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition, he has established a major career as a violin virtuoso. Since performing with the Houston Symphony in a nationally broadcast concert at the age of 11 he has appeared with orchestras throughout the world, including The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Hannover, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, and the Genoa Orchestra. He has also performed on NPR's Performance Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and CNN's American Morning with Paula Zahn. He has appeared at Wigmore Hall (in London), Salle Cortot (Paris), Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), and the Herbst Theatre (San Francisco), as well as a second recital in Alice Tully Hall (New York), which featured the World Premiere of Donald Martino's Sonata for Solo Violin. Mr. Huang's first commercial recording - featuring fantasies by Schubert, Ernst, Schoenberg, and Waxman - was released on Naxos in 2003. He had great success in competitions since the age of 15 and received top prize awards in the Premio Paganini International Violin Competition and the Indianapolis International Violin Competition. Other honors include Gold Medal Awards in the Kingsville International Competition, Irving M. Klein International Competition, and D'Angelo International Competition. In addition to his solo career, Mr. Huang is deeply committed to chamber music. He is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016-17 season, and has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia's Steans Institute, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and Caramoor. He frequently participates in Musicians from Marlboro's tours, and was selected by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to be a member of the prestigious CMS Two program. Before joining the Houston Symphony as concertmaster in 2010, Frank Huang held the position of first violinist of the Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet and was a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music. He is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West. He served on the faculties of The Shepherd School of Music at Rice and the University of Houston, and currently serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School. Frank Huang made his New York Philharmonic solo debut leading and performing Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, as well as leading Grieg's The Last Spring in June 2016; most recently, in November 2017, he performed Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3, led by Gianandrea Noseda.
Violinist Sheryl Staples joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Associate Concertmaster, The Elizabeth G. Beinecke Chair, in September 1998 and currently serves as Acting Concertmaster, The Charles E. Culpeper Chair. She made her solo debut with the Philharmonic in 1999 performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, led by then Music Director Kurt Masur, and has since been featured in concertos by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, and Vivaldi with conductors including Jaap van Zweden, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, and Colin Davis. Most recently, she performed Mozart's Sinfonia concertante with Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, led by Maestro van Zweden, in November 2014. She has performed as soloist with more than 40 other orchestras nationwide, including The Cleveland, Los Angeles and Louisiana Philharmonic, and San Diego and Richmond Symphony orchestras. Previously she was the associate concertmaster of The Cleveland Orchestra and concertmaster of the Pacific Symphony and Santa Barbara Chamber orchestras. An active chamber musician, Ms. Staples is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016-17 season, and frequently performs chamber music in the New York area in venues including David Geffen Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has performed chamber music for U.S. Ambassadors in London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, and Hong Kong, and in 2013 she toured Mexico, Brazil, and Chile. Ms. Staples has participated in the La Jolla, Boston, Salt Bay, Santa Fe, Mainly Mozart, and Aspen chamber music festivals. She appears on three Stereophile compact discs with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Currently she is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, working with students aspiring to orchestral careers. Ms. Staples and her husband, percussionist Barry Centanni, premiered William Kraft's Concerto a Tre for piano, violin, and percussion (written for them, at Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society's summer festival and recorded for release on the Albany Records label in 2008) and David Sampson's Black River Concerto(for solo violin, percussion, and orchestra in April 2011 with the Montclair State University Symphony). Ms. Staples performs on the "Kartman" Guarneri del Gesu, ca. 1728, previously on loan from private collector Peter Mandell and now in the collection of the New York Philharmonic.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) composed his Violin Concerto No. 3 in 1775 and was likely the soloist for the work's premiere in Salzburg shortly after. The lively folk tune used in the finale lends the concerto its occasional nickname Strassburg. In a letter to his father, Mozart reported on an evening when "at supper I played my Strassburger Concerto, which went like oil. Everyone praised my beautiful, pure tone." Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein wrote that the second movement is "an Adagio that seems to have fallen straight from heaven." The New York Philharmonic first presented the concerto in March 1942, led by John Barbirolli, with Zino Francescatti as soloist. It was last performed in April 2012, conducted by then Music Director Alan Gilbert, with Lisa Batiashvili as soloist.
Mozart composed what would become one of his most well-known works, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, in Vienna in August 1787. Very little is known about its genesis, as there is no record of why and for whom he wrote it, or when it was premiered. Some scholars think it is possible he wrote it as a tribute to his father, Leopold, who had passed away that May. It is also possible it was privately commissioned by a paying customer - Mozart's free-spending ways found him always in need of cash. Its original instrumentation is a bit of a mystery as well; it is unclear whether he intended it to be performed by a quartet or a chamber orchestra. Over the years, it has been orchestrated in various ways, sometimes based on a surviving 16-measure fragment for two violins, viola, and double bass, which may represent the composer's original intent. Musicians from the New York Philharmonic first performed Eine kleine Nachtmusik in November 1906, conducted by Wassily Safonoff. It was most recently presented in July 2015 at the Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93) composed the Serenade for Strings in the fall of 1880, at the same time that he was composing the bombastic and popular 1812 Overture. As he was working on both, he wrote to his friend and patron Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck: "The Overture will be very loud, noisy, but I wrote it without any warm feelings of love and so it will probably be of no artistic worth. But the Serenade, on the contrary, I wrote from inner compulsion. This is a piece from the heart and so, I venture to say, it does not lack artistic worth." The work was premiered in St. Petersburg in October 1881, and Tchaikovsky's mentor Anton Rubinstein immediately declared it to be the composer's best work. Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony (which later merged with the New York Philharmonic) in the Serenade's U.S. Premiere in January 1885. Kurt Masur led the Orchestra's most recent presentation of the complete work in July 1999.
Photo: New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Frank Huang
Photo by: Roger Neve