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Orchestra of St. Luke's & New York Philharmonic Partner for First NY PHIL BIENNIAL Festival This Weekend

This spring, Orchestra of St. Luke's collaborates with the New York Philharmonic for the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an 11-day exploration of today's music showcasing an array of curatorial voices through concerts presented with cultural partners throughout New York City. Based on biennials in the world of visual art, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL offers a snapshot of the music of our time, showcasing diverse musical ideas and broad philosophical themes. OSL co-presents two concerts, this weekend, May 31 and June 1 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater, as part of this innovative festival. OSL Principal Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado will conduct these concerts and, at the invitation of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, has served as a curatorial collaborator for the festival.

Featuring U.S. and New York premieres, Heras-Casado leads OSL in programs that explore the music of Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin, set alongside works by contemporary composers from France, Switzerland, and England whose lives and compositional styles have intersected with theirs. Together titled Circles of Influence: Boulez and Benjamin, these two concerts highlight everything from pointillistic serialism, to lush tonality, to spectral-inspired soundscapes, proving that music of the past 40 years is more varied and unpredictable than that of any other period in Western history.

Already regarded for its musical versatility, OSL looks forward to expanding its repertoire even further with works by European composers from the late-20th and 21st centuries. As most of the pieces on the two programs are New York or United States premieres, this music will be new to both the orchestra and audience; Heras-Casado is passionate in his resolve to bring it to the attention of American listeners. The NY PHIL BIENNIAL marks his first occasion conducting OSL in programs dedicated entirely to the music of our time. "In these concerts, we hear the influence of the past and witness music's continuous evolution," says Heras-Casado. "This is a concept that is intriguing to me, and I know that our audiences will make their own discoveries and connections as they hear this music."

OSL's first program centers on the unique, complex, and controversial works of Pierre Boulez, one of the most important composers of the 20th century. Boulez was greatly inspired by the composers of the Second Viennese School, and his interest in the 12-tone system led to his own innovative and radical explorations of serialism, pitch multiplication, and other techniques.

As founding director of the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique Musique (IRCAM) and founder of the French chamber orchestra Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC), he became a seminal influence on a generation of composers. OSL will perform Boulez's Mémoriale (... explosante-fixe ... Originel) (1985), featuring flutist Elizabeth Mann, and Une page d'éphéméride (2005), featuring pianist Margaret Kampmeier.

Boulez's works will be performed alongside U.S. premieres by composers whom he has influenced and whom he admires. The program includes Turbulences by Bruno Mantovani, who studied computer music at IRCAM and who has dedicated music to Boulez; the U.S. premiere of Ostinato funèbre (1991) by Heinz Holliger, who studied composition with Boulez; the U.S. premiere of Strange Ritual (2005) by Philippe Manoury, who joined IRCAM in 1980 as a composer and as a researcher of electronic music and whose works have been recorded by Boulez; and the U.S. premiere of Concertino by Marc-André Dalbavie, who studied conducting with Boulez and whose works Boulez has conducted.

Heras-Casado has a special connection to Pierre Boulez, as well: In 2007, he won the Lucerne Festival Conductors' Competition, for which Boulez was on the jury, and for three summers has co-directed the Lucerne Festival Academy at the personal invitation of Boulez. "I look forward to celebrating my mentor and friend," says Heras-Casado. "It is an honor to conduct Boulez's music and to have worked closely with him to curate this concert."

Heras-Casado and Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean of The Juilliard School, will serve as co-hosts, introducing each work from the stage and discussing themes within the program and cross-influences among these composers.

OSL's second program on the NY PHIL BIENNIAL celebrates extraordinary English composer and scholar George Benjamin, whose sparse oeuvre is consistently praised for its unique sonorities, superior counterpoint, and transcendent beauty. The composer has said, "I am obsessed with harmony and the perception of harmony. I don't write music in which I can't hear the harmonies and can't tell whether the notes are in the right place or not." OSL performs two New York premieres by Benjamin, Upon Silence (1990), featuring mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, and Octet (1978). The intimate Upon Silence, set to Yeats's poem "Long-Legged Fly" and originally scored for mezzo-soprano and five viols, was subsequently transcribed by the composer for modern instruments. Benjamin, who studied with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, wrote that his Octet "was very much my first attempt to integrate all that I had learnt in Paris on an instrumental canvas."

These works are presented together with compositions by Benjamin's colleagues and compatriots-Suns Dance (1985) and the U.S. premiere of Night Rides (2011) by Colin Matthews, the U.S. premiere of A Book of First Inventions (2010) by Ryan Wigglesworth, and the U.S. premiere of Luna (2011) by Helen Grime.

"OSL's second concert features four fantastic contemporary British composers who, for me, represent a tradition of great musical transparency and technical skill," says Heras-Casado. "I am eager to introduce them, and their works, to a wider American audience."

OSL's home, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, also takes part in the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, serving as the venue for the American Composers Orchestra's Underwood New Music Readings, a nationwide round-up of young and emerging composers. The Underwood Readings are conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan and feature new works by seven composers-Andy Akiho, Melody Eotvos, Robert Honstein, Jared Miller, Kyle Peter Rotolo, Harry Stafylakis, and Wang A-Mao, chosen from a pool of more than 400 applicants. Each composer's work will be played over two days: a working open-rehearsal on June 6 at 10:00 AM, and a final run-through on June 7 at 7:30 PM. Both events are free and open to the public, giving audiences a chance to look behind the scenes at the process involved in bringing brand new orchestral music to life. For more information, visit AmericanComposers.org.

The Underwood Readings have been presented annually for 23 years and have been held at The DiMenna Center since 2012. As part of the first NY PHIL BIENNIAL, the American composers selected for this year's Underwood Readings join company with an international roster of more than 50 composers featured in the 11-day festival.

NY PHIL BIENNIAL-Circles of Influence: Pierre Boulez
Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Rose Theater
Co-hosted by Pablo Heras-Casado and Ara Guzelimian

Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Orchestra of St. Luke's

PIERRE BOULEZ Mémoriale (... explosante-fixe ... Originel)
Elizabeth Mann, flute
BRUNO MANTOVANI Turbulences (U.S. Premiere)
HEINZ HOLLIGER Ostinato funèbre (U.S. Premiere)
PHILIPPE MANOURY Strange Ritual (U.S. Premiere)
PIERRE BOULEZ Une page d'éphéméride
Margaret Kampmeier, piano
MARC-ANDRÉ DALBAVIE Concertino (U.S. Premiere)

All tickets $45. To purchase, visit NYPhil.org/Biennial or call 212.875.5656.

NY PHIL BIENNIAL-Circles of Influence: George Benjamin
Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Rose Theater

Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Orchestra of St. Luke's

All tickets $45. To purchase, visit NYPhil.org/Biennial or call 212.875.5656.

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