Press Room

Alan Gilbert launches fifth season at helm of New York Philharmonic

Hailed as “the musical leader the city needs” (New Yorker, June 2013), and a Music Director whose “unflashy radicalism is re-creating the Philharmonic” (New York, June 2013), Alan Gilbert launches his fifth season at the helm of the New York Philharmonic this fall. Reflecting his commitment to contemporary music, upcoming highlights with the orchestra include the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, a kaleidoscopic eleven-day new-music immersion, and world and New York premieres, including three from Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse and a U.S. premiere from Mark-Anthony Turnage. Gilbert also conducts The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival, with Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer’s centennial; Mozart’s three final symphonies; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey while the film is screened; and a staged production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Gilbert takes the podium for the first three weeks of the season, including the Opening Gala with Yo-Yo Ma and concerts with Bronfman, who later accompanies the conductor and orchestra on their upcoming ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour. Gilbert also makes several guest appearances throughout 2013-14, beginning in September with the first of two programs he will conduct this season with the storied Berlin Philharmonic. He will also lead the Munich Philharmonic, NDR Hamburg Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, and – closer to home – the Juilliard School at Carnegie Hall.
With the New York Philharmonic at home and on tour
Gilbert and the Philharmonic launch the season with an Argentine-flavored Opening Gala featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma as soloist in both Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul and a suite from tango master Astor Piazzolla, flanked by Ravel orchestral favorites. The concert marks Ma’s first New York performance of Azul, which was written for him, and the world premiere of Octavio Brunetti’s arrangement – a New York Philharmonic commission – of the Piazzolla suite (Sep 25).
As the New York Times recently observed, “Gilbert has infused the Philharmonic with his passion for contemporary music.” Late spring brings the orchestra’s first NY Phil Biennial (May 28–June 7), an exploration of today’s music by more than 50 contemporary and modern composers from around the world, presented with partners including 92nd Street Y, MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Juilliard School, and Bang on a Can. New York magazine calls the NY PHIL BIENNIAL “the music world’s answer to the Whitney’s regular roundups of recent art,” and “promises to focus scattered glints of new music into a bright beam.” The inaugural biennial sees Gilbert direct the world premiere of a major Philharmonic commission: Symphony No. 4 by American composer Christopher Rouse, who continues his two-year tenure as the orchestra’s Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence. This will be coupled with the New York premiere of Peter Eötvös’s concerto DoReMi, with violin soloist Midori, and the first performances of a new work to be selected through the New York Philharmonic EarShot New Music Readings (June 5 & 7). Gilbert also leads HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale with the Juilliard School’s AXIOM ensemble (May 29–June 1), and under his curatorship, other biennial highlights include two programs in CONTACT!, the Philharmonic’s new-music series, which extends its reach with more concerts in new venues across the city.
Gilbert presents the New York premieres of Rouse’s Oboe Concerto (Nov 14–19) and Requiem, when the Philharmonic kicks off Carnegie Hall’s Spring For Music festival (May 5), and showcases another important premiere when he pairs Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the first U.S. performance of a contemporary response to it: Frieze, a Philharmonic co-commission from British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage (Oct 3–9).
The conductor launched the Philharmonic’s Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence initiative in his inaugural season as music director. Powerhouse pianist Yefim (“Fima”) Bronfman serves as the 2013-14 incumbent, and joins Gilbert as soloist for The Beethoven Piano Concertos. This three-week festival sees the conductor lead a complete Beethoven concerto cycle, juxtaposed with the world premieres of two new works by composers commissioned as part of the Philharmonic’s Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music (June 11–28).
Bronfman also joins Gilbert and the Philharmonic for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Sep 26–Oct 1), before returning to reprise Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which the conductor and orchestra recently commissioned and premiered with him. They present the Lindberg in New York (Jan 2–7) and on their upcoming ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour, when Gilbert and the Philharmonic return to the Asian continent for concerts in Tokyo, Seoul, and more. Their program includes Rouse’s Rapture, and Gilbert will narrate Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in Japanese at a Young People’s Concert in Tokyo.
Britten is one of three very different composers that the conductor showcases prominently over the coming season. Gilbert celebrates the Britten centennial with an all-Britten program on the English composer’s birthday (Nov 22); leads the orchestra in Mozart’s three final symphonies (Nov 29 & 30); and resumes The Nielsen Project with renditions of the Danish composer’s Symphonies No. 1 and 4 and his Clarinet Concerto, with newly appointed Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson (March 12–15). The first release of this multi-year initiative was named one of the New York Times Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012.
Gilbert takes the Philharmonic on excursions into the worlds of Broadway and film with a staged production of Stephen Sondheim’s macabre musical thriller, Sweeney Todd, starring bass-baritone Bryn Terfel under the direction of Emmy Award-winner Lonny Price (March 5–8), and a live performance of the score from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey accompanied by a screening of the film, as part of THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic (Sep 20–21).  Gilbert also leads the orchestra in two special holiday concerts, conducting both the Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, with special guests Igudesman & Joo (Dec 31), and its Free Annual Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine (May 26).
Guest conducting collaborations from Europe to Carnegie Hall
Away from the Philharmonic, Gilbert guest conducts many of Europe’s top orchestras. With the Berlin Philharmonic he gives his first performances of the 2013-14 season, conducting 20th-century East-European repertoire (Sep 12–14), before returning to reprise Magnus Lindberg’s Kraft with the composer at the piano (Jan 30–Feb 1). In the first of two upcoming collaborations with the NDR Hamburg Symphony, where he is Principal Guest Conductor, Gilbert leads his own arrangement of excerpts from Wagner’s “Ring” cycle (Nov 7–9), and at the Orchestre National de Lyon he presents Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony (May 10–11). The conductor takes his “consistently involving and insightful” (New York Times) interpretations of Bruckner’s symphonies to the Munich Philharmonic (Oct 31–Nov 3) and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he is Conductor Laureate (April 3–5).
Bruckner is also on the program when Gilbert guest conducts the orchestra of New York’s Juilliard School, where he is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies and holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies, in concert at Carnegie Hall (Oct 21).
Previous season highlights
Alan Gilbert launched his previous season with the New York Philharmonic with a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring that the Financial Times called “astonishing.”  Veteran critic Martin Bernheimer observed, “Gilbert paid masterly attention to Stravinsky’s cataclysmic climaxes, jagged rhythms, thumping compulsions and hysterical dynamics without slighting thematic focus or dramatic transition in the process. His trusty ensemble made the massive challenge sound easy, even natural. It was, in all, an auspicious opening.”  
Among the many highlights of Gilbert’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic last season were acclaimed performances of a wide range of repertoire. New York magazine critic Justin Davidson summed up their many successes with an end of year report that included these observations:
“He led a performance of the Bach B minor Mass that made a powerful case for wresting the work back from specialists and performing it with an anachronistic but rich and supple ensemble. [Gilbert] can do searing violence, too: There was not a perfunctory second in Luigi Dallapiccola’s 1949 opera Il Prigioniero, from the opening slash chords to Gerald Finley’s sensitive performance as the doomed but hopeful detainee. … [Concerning Ives’s Symphony No. 4,] its multiple ensembles weaving wildly at different tempos, separate soundtracks jangling together, can easily come off as a mess. But Gilbert panned across the great, crazy score, savoring the festive chaos, then zooming in to follow some buried thread of melody, or opening up a moment of quiet clarity.” 
In their EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour, Gilbert and the Philharmonic participated in the Vienna Konzerthaus’s centennial and performed Lindberg’s Kraft and Rouse’s Prospero’s Rooms at the Volkswagen Transparent Factory – the latter webcast live on medici.TV. The season concluded with A Dancer’s Dream, a multidisciplinary reimagining of Stravinsky’s Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka, created by Giants Are Small and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns. The collaboration with Giants Are Small previously yielded productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) and Janácek’s Cunning Little Vixen (2011) – both cited as the top cultural events of their respective years. The New York Times observed, “These programs were not just high points in Mr. Gilbert’s tenure as music director of the Philharmonic, but inspiring examples of how an American orchestra can take a creative leap and reinvent itself. … Is this the future of the American orchestra?  Let’s hope so.”
Gilbert’s work with other orchestras last season included staged performances, directed by Stephen Wadsworth, of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, co-presented by the Juilliard School and Metropolitan Opera and featuring the Juilliard Orchestra and a cast drawn from the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts. The Associated Press praised the “spirited and thoroughly enjoyable production,” which featured Gilbert “conducting with a quicksilver touch that brings out the sparkle in the score but also plumbs its considerable emotional depths.” 
A debut with the Staatskapelle Berlin last fall prompted this response from Klaus Geitel in the Berliner Morgenpost: “To say it straight away: the performance of Alan Gilbert, chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was a great event in Berlin’s concert-life.”  Soon after, Gilbert made a debut with another celebrated German orchestra, at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus.  The Leipziger Volkzeitung called it “A really great ‘Great Concert’, with a great conductor, who hopefully isn’t standing for the last time on the Gewandhaus podium. … Gilbert is an unpretentious expert, one who can convey sensuality and clarity with gestures of suggestive persuasiveness.”
In the spring, Gilbert returned to the Cleveland Orchestra, substituting for an ailing Pierre Boulez in a program of Ravel and Mahler. The Cleveland Plain Dealer described their performance of the latter composer’s Seventh Symphony as “Mahler…of the rough-and-tumble variety, and…all the more powerful as a result. … With Gilbert at the helm, 80 minutes passed in a veritable flash. Moreover, Gilbert’s rendition was unabashedly extroverted, filled to the brim with emotion. The exuberance in the Finale almost could not be checked Thursday as the composer’s affirmation of life took the form of a giant orchestral bear-hug.
Off the podium, but not far off the media radar screen, Gilbert made a guest appearance playing himself in an episode of the final season of NBC’s 30 Rock, and taught the cast members of Sesame Street a bit about the art of conducting.
*          *          *          *          *
A list of the conductor’s 2013-14 engagements follows, and additional information may be found at his website:
Alan Gilbert: upcoming engagements, 2013-14
Sep 12, 13 & 14
Berlin Philharmonic
With Thomas Zehetmair, Violin
Witold Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 4
Leos Janácek: Violin Concerto “Putování dusicky” (The Pilgrimage of a Little Soul)
Béla Bartók: The Wooden Prince; Ballet Music
Sep 20 & 21
New York Philharmonic
THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic
Score of 2001: A Space Odyssey, performed live as film is screened
Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra
György Ligeti: Atmosphères; Kyrie, from Requiem; Lux aeterna; Aventures
Johann Strauss II: On the Beautiful Blue Danube
With Musica Sacra / Kent Tritle
Artistic advisor: Alex Baldwin
Sep 25
New York Philharmonic
Opening Gala with Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso
Osvaldo Golijov: Azul (with Yo-Yo Ma, cello)
Astor Piazzolla, arr. Octavio Brunetti: Suite from La serie del Ángel (with Yo-Yo Ma, cello) (World premiere of NY Philharmonic-commissioned arrangement)
Ravel: Boléro
(To be filmed for broadcast on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center)

Sep 26–28; Oct 1
New York Philharmonic
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Oct 3, 4, 5, 8 & 9
New York Philharmonic
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Mark-Anthony Turnage: Frieze (U.S. premiere; NY Philharmonic co-commission)
Oct 21
Juilliard Orchestra
Carnegie Hall
Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 1
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Oct 31; Nov 1, 2 & 3
Munich Philharmonic
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4
Nov 7­–9
NDR Hamburg Sinfonieorchester
Dvorák: Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 (with Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin)
Wagner (arr. Gilbert): Excerpts from The Ring of the Nibelung
Nov 14, 15, 16 & 19
New York Philharmonic
Christopher Rouse: Oboe Concerto (with Liang Wang, oboe; NY premiere)
Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra; Don Juan (with Glenn Dicterow, violin)
Nov 21–23
New York Philharmonic
Britten’s 100th Birthday Concert
Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (with Philip Myers, horn; Paul Appleby, tenor)
Britten: Spring Symphony (with Kate Royal, soprano (NYP debut); Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; New York Choral Artists Chorus / Joseph Flummerfelt; Brooklyn Youth Chorus / Dianne Berkun)
Nov 26
New York Philharmonic
Mozart: Symphony No. 39
Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (with Philip Myers, horn; Paul Appleby, tenor)
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”)
Nov 29 & 30
New York Philharmonic
Mozart: Symphony No. 39
Mozart: Symphony No. 40
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”)
Nov 30 (matinee)
New York Philharmonic
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”)
Dec 31
New York Philharmonic
New Year’s Eve Concert with musical humorists Igudesman & Joo (NYP debut)
Jan 2, 3 & 7
New York Philharmonic
Christopher Rouse: Rapture
Magnus Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
Jan 4
New York Philharmonic
Tilles Center, Brookville, NY
Christopher Rouse: Rapture
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
Jan 9, 10, 11 & 14
New York Philharmonic
Beethoven: Fidelio Overture
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Lisa Batiashvili, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 1
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Jan 30 & 31; Feb 1
Berlin Philharmonic
Dvorák: Cello Concerto in B minor (with Truls Mork, cello)
Lindberg: Kraft for clarinet, percussion, piano, cello, and orchestra (with Truls Mork, cello; Magnus Lindberg, piano)
New York Philharmonic ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour
Tour to include concerts in Tokyo and Seoul: Piano Concerto No. 2 by former Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg performed by Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, Rapture by current Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse, and a Young People’s Concert in Tokyo with Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra narrated in Japanese by Alan Gilbert. Additional details to be announced.
March 5–8
New York Philharmonic
Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (staged production by Lonny Price, starring Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone)
March 12–15
New York Philharmonic
The Nielsen Project
Nielsen: Symphony No. 1
Nielsen: Clarinet Concerto (with Stephen Williamson, clarinet)
Nielsen: Symphony No. 4
April 3–5
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic
Bruckner: Symphony No. 8
May 5
New York Philharmonic
Spring For Music festival
Carnegie Hall
Christopher Rouse: Requiem (NY premiere; with Jacques Imbrailo, baritone; Westminster Symphonic Choir / Joe Miller; Brooklyn Youth Chorus / Dianne Berkun)
May 10 & 11
Orchestre National de Lyon
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 (with Nicolaj Znaider, violin)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
May 15 & 18
NDR Hamburg Sinfonieorchester
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Bartok: Bluebeard’s Castle (with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano; John Relyea, bass-baritone)
May 26
New York Philharmonic
Free Annual Memorial Day Concert
Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
Program TBA
May 29 & 30; June 1
Juilliard School’s AXIOM ensemble and Vocalists
HK Gruber: Gloria – A Pig Tale
June 5 & 7
New York Philharmonic
Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 4 (world premiere of NY Philharmonic commission)
Peter Eötvös: DoReMi, Violin Concerto No. 2 (NY premiere; with Midori, violin)
TBD: Work to be selected through NY Philharmonic EarShot New Music Readings
June 11–14
New York Philharmonic
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 4 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Anthony Cheung: new work (world premiere of NY Philharmonic commission)
June 18–21
New York Philharmonic
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Sean Shepherd: new work (world premiere of NY Philharmonic commission)
June 24–28
New York Philharmonic
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Beethoven: Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Cello (with Glenn Dicterow, violin; Carter Brey, cello; Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman, piano)
#          #          #
© 21C Media Group, August 2013



Return to Press Room