Joshua Weilerstein Leads NY Philharmonic with Soloist Arabella Steinbacher Tonight
New York Philharmonic Assistant Conductor Joshua Weilerstein will make his Philharmonic subscription debut conducting Osvaldo Golijov's Last Round; Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, featuring violinist Arabella Steinbacher, also in her Philharmonic debut; and Dvorák's Symphony No. 8, tonight, October 12, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. and Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m.
When Ms. Steinbacher made her debut with The Cleveland Orchestra in February 2012, performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, The Plain Dealer praised the work's intimate, emotional dimensions, conveying its molten ardor, frivolity, and heavenly her as "an artist of refined introspection who makes music as much for her own fulfillment as her listeners ... she savored tenderness." The performance of Osvaldo Golijov's Last Round represents the first time that the Argentinian composer's music has been featured on a New York Philharmonic subscription concert; his Azul is being performed earlier in the season, on the Opening Gala concert, September 25. Assistant Conductor Joshua Weilerstein's subscription debut in this program follows his appearances with the Orchestra at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts; Young People's Concerts; School Day Concerts; the Philharmonic's acclaimed 2011-12 season finale program, Philharmonic 360, at Park Avenue Armory; and Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.
- Pre-Concert Talks
Author, pianist, and professor Arbie Orenstein will introduce the program. 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: nyphil.org or (212) 875-5656.
- National and International Radio Broadcast
The program will be broadcast the week of November 3, 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 Foundation, 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, nyphil.org. 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.
Joshua Weilerstein, in his third season as the New York Philharmonic's Assistant Conductor, makes his subscription debut with the Orchestra in these concerts. In 2009 Mr. Weilerstein, then 21 years old, was unanimously named the winner of the 2009 Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen, Denmark. His first-prize honors included a series of engagements with major Scandinavian orchestras, the first of which was the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in June 2009, marking his professional conducting debut. During the 2013-14 season, Mr. Weilerstein makes several debuts in the United States with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Fort Worth, and New Mexico, and he returns to the Florida Orchestra. In Europe he debuts with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Belgique, Salzburg Mozarteumorchester, and Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. He also returns to the BBC, Danish National, and Finnish Radio symphony orchestras; Oslo Philharmonic; Swedish Chamber Orchestra; and Northern Sinfonia. Born into a musical family, Joshua Weilerstein studied at the New England Conservatory, from which he received his dual master of music degrees in orchestral conducting (with Hugh Wolff) and in violin (with Lucy Chapman) in 2011. He spent the summers of 2009 and 2010 studying with David Zinman and Robert Spano at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he was awarded the Robert J. Harth and Aspen Conducting Prizes, its most distinguished honors. In 2007 the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSO) engaged Mr. Weilerstein as a violin soloist. Shortly after this appearance, the SBSO asked him to join the first violin section for the orchestra's 2007 American tour with music director Gustavo Dudamel, making Mr. Weilerstein the ensemble's first non-Venezuelan guest member. In January 2010 he made his guest conducting debut with the SBSO. Recent engagements include the Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Royal Stockholm, and Brussels philharmonic orchestras; Toronto, BBC, and BBC Scottish symphony orchestras; and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.
Violinist Arabella Steinbacher has performed with many of the world's major orchestras including the Boston, London, Chicago, Philadelphia, Bavarian Radio, NDR, NHK, and Cleveland symphony orchestras; Dresden Staatskapelle; Philharmonia Orchestra; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra; and Munich Philharmonie. She has worked with leading conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Herbert Blomstedt, Vladimir Jurowski, Zubin Mehta, Marek Janowski, Lorin Maazel, Neville Marriner, and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Highlights of her 2013-14 season include debuts at the Salzburger Festspiele and, in these performances, with the New York Philharmonic; performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Jaap van Zweden, Russian National Orchestra under Vasily Petrenko, hr-Sinfonieorchester under Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Charles Dutoit; and a tour with the Dresdner Philharmonic. Ms. Steinbacher is recording exclusively for PentaTone Classics; in April 2013 she released her latest CD, featuring violin concertos by Bruch and Korngold. Arabella Steinbacher currently plays the "Booth" Stradivari (1716), generously provided by the Nippon Music Foundation. She lives in her hometown of Munich, Germany.
Argentinian-born Osvaldo Golijov's two-movement Last Round (1991, 1996) was composed for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and exists in three versions: one for two string quartets with double bass, one for small string orchestra, and one for large string orchestra (the last of which will be heard in these concerts). Of the original chamber version of the work, Mr. Golijov said: "I composed Last Round (the title is borrowed from a short story on boxing by Julio Cortázar) as an imaginary chance for the spirit of the last great tango composer, Ástor Piazzolla, to fight one more time (he used to get into fistfights throughout his life). The piece is conceived as an idealized bandoneón. There are two movements: the first represents the act of violent compression of the instrument and the second a final, seemingly endless opening sigh.... But Last Round is also a sublimated tango dance." Ástor Piazzolla (1921-92) learned to play the bandoneón, but he also studied Bach and Bartók and was a student of Nadia Boulanger, who encouraged him to embrace the music of his native country. The result was nuevo tango, a fusion of traditional tango rhythms, jazz, and classical music, expressed in more than 300 tangos. The New York Philharmonic Ensembles performed the two quartets and double bass version of Last Round at Merkin Concert Hall in 2008; this is the first time the Orchestra will play the large string orchestra arrangement.
In 1835, when Felix Mendelssohn was only 27 years old, he was appointed conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and hired his longtime friend Ferdinand David as concertmaster. In 1838 Mendelssohn told David, "I want to write a violin concerto next winter. One in E minor is running through my head, and the beginning of it gives me no peace." It took him six years to complete the Violin Concerto (1844), thanks to the encouragement of David, who was the dedicatee and soloist at the premiere. A success, other performances soon followed, including one in Dresden that launched the career of the 14-year-old prodigy Joseph Joachim, a last-minute substitution in a concert to have featured Clara Schumann. Praised for its tight construction (such as the violin's immediate entrance), linking phrases between movements, and unusual placement of the first cadenza (in the middle of the first movement), the concerto's beauty and importance was summed up by Joachim: "The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, the one that makes fewest concessions, is Beethoven's. The one by Brahms comes close to Beethoven's in its seriousness. Max Bruch wrote the richest and most seductive of the four. But the dearest of them all, the heart's jewel, is Mendelssohn's." Theodore Elsfeld conducted violinist Joseph Burke for the Philharmonic's first performance of the concerto in 1849; Alan Gilbert led its most recent performance in September 2010, featuring Itzhak Perlman as soloist.
Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 (1899) is something of a landmark in the creator's compositional life. His career had been fostered and his works championed by Johannes Brahms, whose Germanic influence was powerful. However, with this penultimate symphony, Dvo?ák struck out in a new direction, loosening the formal Germanic structures he had previously used, and expressing his identity as a Bohemian composer. Dvorák's peaceful summer retreat at Vysoká u P?íbrami in the Czech Republic no doubt served as the inspiration for the dazzling passages that seem to cascade one after another in the opening movement, and for the Bohemian flavors in the Adagio. A waltz-like rhythm can be heard in the third movement, and a trumpet introduces the theme-and-variations finale. Conductor Anton Seidl led the Orchestra's first performance of this work at the old Metropolitan Opera House (on 39th Street) in 1892, and its most recent was in July 2013 during its annual Bravo! Vail residency with conductor Bramwell Tovey.
Tickets for these concerts start at $34. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts are available for multiple concerts, students, and groups (visit nyphil.org/preconcert for more information). All other 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 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.]