Symphony Space Shines a Light on Musical Legends and Salon Performers

Krzyszt of Penderecki, acclaimed as Poland's greatest living composer, is but one of numerous outstanding concert performers who will appear during Symphony Space's 2013-14 season, said Laura Kaminsky, the composer and artistic director of the Upper West Side venue.

Penderecki will appear on Friday, Oct. 25, in a live audio webcast hosted by Helga Davis, contributing host on Q2 Music, WQXR's online station devoted to classical music.

The season promises to be an exciting one, said Kaminsky, who is especially thrilled about Penderecki's appearance. "I lived in Poland for a year," she said, "and the idea of his coming here is very humbling and magnificent. He doesn't often do public performances, and this promises to be fantastic."

Symphony Space's IN THE SALON series enriches performances by top-notch artists with informative talks. Penderecki's program will include his own String Quartet No. 3 performed by the Penderecki String Quartet, and Sextette, played by Ensemble Pi. Among the featured musicians will be those from the Yale School of Music, where the composer taught during the 1970s.

Other crowd-pleasing performances include the Oct. 7 celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, along with excerpts from other Kurt Weill scores, Kaminsky said.

"This season's opening is an opportunity to look at Weill's breadth and range," she said. "We invited this chamber orchestra because they've performed a wide range of music. We worked with them a year ago and thought they'd be a good stylistic fit for the program."

The Weill concert will feature a stellar cast including Melissa Errico, Brent Barrett and Judy Blazer. It also includes winners of the Lotte Lenya competition, Kaminsky said, with musical direction by Weill specialist James Holmes.

"There's a really rich trajectory over the course of the season," she said, adding that the eclectic nature of the performances should appeal to a diverse audience.

"The salon concerts are ones in which there's a conversational aspect," Kaminsky said of the intimate programs. "Sometimes we ask a moderator to break down barriers between the artist and the audience. We'll talk about the body of a work, for example, and provide an insider's view for the audience. It's rich and wonderful when it's not just about program notes the audiences read.

"The salon programs are informal and always popular," she continued. "It's not just academic, it's engaging, riveting fun.

"The Thalia Music Club is our inaugural alternative to Wednesday Broadway matinee day," Kaminsky said of the 2 p.m. performances (beginning Oct. 23). Those concerts will feature the music of Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Bach and Shostakovich.

Another stand-out from the season is an Oct. 18 celebration of the composer Benjamin Britten. "There will be a wealth of classical music, including a tribute to Benjamin Britten, with complete songs for tenor and guitar to be played. That's rarely performed as a body of work," Kaminsky said. Tenor Rufus Müller and guitarist David Leisner will present Britten's complete oeuvre including Britten's landmark Nocturne for solo guitar.

Another unprecedented program will explore the question of what the world was like on Nov. 21, 1963, the day before the Kennedy assassination, when the world as we knew it changed forever.

Contributing artists include soprano Megan Weston, bass-baritone Robert Osborne and pianist Margaret Kampmeier. "We'll have composers and visual artists who will have up to three minutes to respond to that question," Kaminsky said of the unique program.

The American Dream, performed by the Cassatt Quartet (Nov. 22) will explore the romantic notion of the American Dream, through an evening of performance and conversation. The quartet will perform works by Dvorak and Peter Schickele as well as the world premiere of Source Code.

"It takes time to appreciate music," Kaminsky said. "When people know about what they're listening to, they become more appreciative. Music is an abstract language that takes a little bit longer to become vernacular. What we do at Symphony Space is put a flashlight on music."

Symphony Space is at 2537 Broadway at West 95th Street. For program information visit

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From This Author Naomi Serviss