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Alan Gilbert’s programming enriches New York Philharmonic’s 2013-14 season

The New York Philharmonic announced its 2013-14 season last week, and the wide-ranging, imaginative programming reflects the inspiration and leadership of Alan Gilbert, who begins his fifth season as the orchestra’s Music Director in September.  Among the highlights of Gilbert’s work with the orchestra next season will be a ten-day new-music immersion titled NY PHIL BIENNIAL; The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman; a celebration of Benjamin Britten’s centennial; the continuation of The Nielsen Project; and THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic. Gilbert’s commitment to contemporary music sees him leading world and New York premieres including three from Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse, as well as a U.S. premiere from Mark-Anthony Turnage. 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 also accompanies the conductor and orchestra on their upcoming ASIA/WINTER 2014 tour.
The conductor explains:
“From the start I had hoped that the seemingly disparate initiatives we introduced when I arrived would eventually collide, intersect, and intertwine in a natural, organic way. I am gratified that in the coming season our partnerships with an inspired performer and a complex composer will blend with the cultivation of brand-new music and fresh perspectives on masterpieces of the past.”
Opening Gala with Yo-Yo Ma
Gilbert and the orchestra launch the season on September 25, 2013, with an Argentine-flavored Opening Gala featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma as soloist in both Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul and Octavio Brunetti’s arrangement of a suite from tango master Astor Piazzolla’s La serie del Ángel. Bookending the gala evening are two works by Ravel: his 1918 orchestral transcription of Alborada del gracioso from his solo piano suite Miroirs and the 1928 Boléro. The concert marks Ma’s first New York performance of Azul, which was originally written for him. Gilbert comments:
“I think Osvaldo Golijov is one of the most important composers working today, and I’ve loved his music for a long time. To work with Yo-Yo Ma is a huge honor, and it’s a dream to have him opening the season. His championing of this music makes a lot of sense to me because I can see the emotional kinship that these two great artists share. When Yo-Yo commissions a new piece, he doesn’t just play it once: he brings it to different orchestras and gives the piece life.”
NY PHIL BIENNIAL, Christopher Rouse residency, and other premieres
The Golijov is just one of the many works programmed for 2013-14 that reflect Gilbert’s commitment to new music. May 29 – June 7, 2014 brings the orchestra’s first NY Phil Biennial, an immersive ten-day exhibition of new music today, designed to showcase the international music scene through orchestral events, CONTACT! concerts, guest ensembles, and more, with partners across New York City. As Gilbert explains:
“The NY PHIL BIENNIAL will be one of the touchstones of the season. We want it to be a snapshot of what is happening in music today, presented in an innovative and playful way. The programming will remain flexible so we can add successful new works as we discover them during the next year, with the goal of riding the crest of the living, constantly changing new-music scene. We are excited about this prospect and hope it becomes a real happening in New York.”
As a key component of the inaugural Biennial, Gilbert will 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 (June 5 – 7). Rouse envisions his new symphony comprising two movements, the first recalling his blissful Rapture (2000), in which Gilbert will lead the Philharmonic on January 2–3 and 7, 2014, as well as at Long Island University’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on January 4, 2014, and on the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour.
Gilbert also presents the New York premieres of two recent Rouse works. He undertakes the composer’s Requiem (2002) when the New York Philharmonic kicks off Carnegie Hall’s Spring For Music festival (May 5, 2014) and teams up with principal oboist Liang Wang for the New York premiere of Rouse’s Oboe Concerto (2004). This shares a program with Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and Don Juan, both featuring departing Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow as soloist (Nov 14–16 & 19, 2013).
The conductor showcases another important premiere on October 3–5 and 8–9, 2013, when he leads a program pairing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the first U.S. performance of a contemporary response to it: Frieze, a Philharmonic co-commission with the Royal Philharmonic Society and BBC Radio 3 from British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. As Gilbert points out:
“For the modern audience, I think it’s fascinating to be reminded that when Beethoven’s music was first played, it was then a contemporary-music concert. The hope is that both pieces – Turnage’s Frieze and Beethoven’s Ninth – will be illuminated by the juxtaposition.”
The conductor also looks forward to leading the world premieres of two new Philharmonic commissions by Anthony Cheung (June 11–14, 2014) and by 2012 Marie-Josée Kravis Emerging Composer Sean Shepherd (June 18–21, 2014). Both new works will debut in The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival.
The Beethoven Piano Concertos and Yefim Bronfman residency
Gilbert 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 will serve as the 2013-14 incumbent, and it is he who joins Gilbert as soloist for The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival. This pairs a cycle of the master composer’s piano concertos with new Philharmonic commissions; Gilbert will present Beethoven’s First and Fourth Piano Concertos alongside Cheung’s new work (June 11–14, 2014); the Second and Third with Shepherd’s (June 18–21, 2014); and the Fifth (“Emperor”) Concerto on a program with Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, for which Bronfman will be joined by Philharmonic principal cellist Carter Brey and departing concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, whom Gilbert describes as “a legend” (June 24–28, 2014).
Bronfman also helps kick off Gilbert and the orchestra’s 2013-14 season, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 during their opening week on a program with works by Ravel and Bernstein (Sep 26–28 & Oct 1, 2013). The conductor explains:
“Fima and I have a very warm, natural relationship offstage, and I hope that translates into what happens onstage. I’m always inspired by his perfection and dazzled by his pianism. It’s incredible what he can do on the instrument. Everything he does is so passionate and committed.”
The pianist returns early in the new year to reprise Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which Gilbert and the Philharmonic commissioned for him and premiered with him in May 2012. They present it both in New York (Jan 2, 3 & 7, 2014) and on their upcoming ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour in February 2014.
ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour
In February 2014, Gilbert and the Philharmonic return to Asia, the site of their first tour together, with stops including Tokyo and Seoul. Traveling with them will be Bronfman, to play Lindberg’s Second Piano Concerto. The orchestra will also perform Rouse’s Rapture. The tour has special significance for the conductor, who explains: “Part of my family comes from Japan, and I’ll never forget my first tour with the orchestra, which started out there.” A highlight of the tour is a Young People’s Concert in Tokyo, for which Gilbert will narrate Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in Japanese. He confesses: “This is definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever agreed to do – I’m going to start practicing right now – but I’m glad I’m doing it because Japan is a country where music is really important for kids.”
Britten, Nielsen, and Mozart
Over the 2013-14 season, Gilbert takes the opportunity to focus on three very different composers. On November 21–23 and 26, 2013, he leads the Philharmonic in a celebration of the centennial of English composer, conductor, and pianist Benjamin Britten. The program, which includes a performance on the composer’s 100th birthday (Nov 22), will open with the 1943 Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings performed by tenor Paul Appleby and Philharmonic principal horn Philip Myers. The concert also includes Britten’s 1949 Spring Symphony, featuring British soprano Kate Royal in her Philharmonic debut. “I think Benjamin Britten is one of the truly great composers of the 20th century,” Gilbert says. “Spring Symphony is a piece that is not often performed but is a very fresh and inspired work about renewal and growth, one that New York should absolutely hear.”
Launched during the 2011–12 season, The Nielsen Project reflects Gilbert’s passion for Carl Nielsen (1865–1931), whose music he hopes to bring to a wider audience. This ongoing initiative sees the orchestra perform and record the Danish composer’s six symphonies and three concertos, and continues on March 12–15, 2014, with Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5 and the Helios Overture. The symphonies will be recorded for future release on Denmark’s Dacapo label. Upon its completion, The Nielsen Project will comprise four recordings, the first of which was released last September, and will culminate in a boxed set to be released in fall 2015, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Gilbert says:
“During my years in Sweden, I grew to love Nielsen, and I believe the Nielsen canon deserves to be better known by American audiences: he speaks to everybody. There’s something wonderfully craggy, natural, and forbidding about the sound he creates, but it’s always couched in a romantic warmth. The Philharmonic plays Nielsen incredibly well, with insight, stylistic purity, and passion.”
The third of the composers to come under the spotlight next season is Mozart, when Gilbert leads a program of his three final symphonies, Nos. 39, 40, and 41 (“Jupiter”) on November 29–30, 2013. Many scholars believe they were intended to be a trilogy and should have been published together; as Gilbert observes:
“Playing Mozart’s last three symphonies together in a program is a very intense and powerful way of experiencing this music. Mozart, for any performer, is uniquely challenging – it has to be perfect, stylish, and shaped, but ultimately human – but there’s nothing more fun or gratifying. The story of Mozart is everybody’s story, and it’s an important one.”
THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic
Just before the season officially opens, the orchestra presents THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic, offering two programs that highlight some of the cinematic genre’s most fascinating uses of music. On September 20–21, 2013, Gilbert will direct the first of these, accompanying a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with a live performance of the score. The film brought worldwide fame to both Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and the music of György Ligeti, including Atmosphères, Lux Aeterna, Requiem, and Aventures. In one of cinema’s most memorable images, a spaceship floats serenely through space to the strains of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s The Blue Danube. Silence is also a key component of the film; the orchestra will remain onstage for the entire screening, highlighting Kubrick’s strategic and eloquent use of both music and silence in storytelling.
New Year’s Eve and other holiday concerts
Among his other upcoming Philharmonic highlights, Gilbert will lead the orchestra in two special holiday concerts. The first of these is on December 31, 2013, when he conducts the Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. In their Philharmonic debuts, this year’s special guests will be Igudesman & Joo, the musical humor duo whose comedic, insightful, and virtuosic interpretations of classical repertoire (à la Victor Borge and Danny Kaye) have made them viral Internet stars. Longtime friends who met at England’s Yehudi Menuhin School when they were both twelve years old, Russian violinist Aleksey Igudesman and British-Korean pianist Hyung-ki Joo devise unique performances that make classical music accessible to a wide audience. Combining comedy, music, and pop culture, Igudesman & Joo perform around the world in stadiums and concert halls, and their skits have garnered more than 28 million hits on YouTube.
Gilbert will also conduct the New York Philharmonic at the Free Annual Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Monday, May 26, 2014.
A list of the conductor’s 2013-14 engagements with the New York Philharmonic follows, and additional information may be found at his website:
Complete information on the New York Philharmonic’s 2013-14 season can be found at the orchestra’s website:
Alan Gilbert with the New York Philharmonic: 2013-14 season
Sep 20–21, 2013
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; Lux Aeterna; Requiem; Aventures
Johann Strauss, Jr.: The Blue Danube
Sep 25, 2013
Opening Gala Concert with Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso from Miroirs
Osvaldo Golijov: Azul (with Yo-Yo Ma, cello)
Astor Piazzolla, arr. Octavio Brunetti: Suite from La serie del Ángel (with Y. Ma, cello)
Ravel: Boléro
Sep 26–28 & Oct 1, 2013
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman)
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Oct 3–5 & 8–9, 2013
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Mark-Anthony Turnage: Frieze (U.S. premiere)
Nov 14–16 & 19, 2013
Christopher Rouse: Oboe Concerto (with Liang Wang)
Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra; Don Juan (with Glenn Dicterow, violin)
Nov 21–23 & 26, 2013
Britten’s 100th Birthday Concert
Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (with Philip Myers, horn; Paul Appleby, tenor)
With Kate Royal, soprano (debut); Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Brooklyn Youth Chorus / Dianne Berkun
Nov 30, 2013
Saturday Matinee Concert
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”)
Dec 31, 2013
New Year’s Eve Concert with musical humorists Igudesman & Joo (NYP debut)
Jan 2–3 & 7, 2014
Magnus Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman)
Christopher Rouse: Rapture
Jan 4, 2014
Tilles Center, Brookville, NY
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman)
Christopher Rouse: Rapture
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
Jan 9–11 & 14, 2014
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Lisa Batiashvili)
Feb 2014
ASIA/WINTER 2014 tour, incl. Tokyo and Seoul
Programs to include:
Magnus Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman)
Christopher Rouse: Rapture
Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (with Gilbert’s narration)
March 12–15, 2014
The Nielsen Project
Nielsen: Helios Overture
Nielsen: Symphony No. 1
Nielsen: Symphony No. 5
May 5, 2014
Spring For Music Festival
Carnegie Hall
Christopher Rouse: Requiem
May 26, 2014
Free Annual Memorial Day Concert
Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
June 5–7, 2014
NY PHIL BIENNIAL: Immersive Exhibition of New Music Today
Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 4 (world premiere of NY Philharmonic commission)
June 11–14, 2014
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 4 (with Yefim Bronfman)
Anthony Cheung: new work (world premiere of NY Philharmonic commission)
June 18–21, 2014
“The Beethoven Concertos”
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3 (with Yefim Bronfman)
Sean Shepherd: new work (world premiere of NY Philharmonic commission)
June 24–28, 2014
The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (with Yefim Bronfman)
Beethoven: Triple Concerto (with Glenn Dicterow, violin; Carter Brey, cello; Yefim Bronfman, piano)

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