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Alisa Weilerstein’s Spring Highlights Include Barber’s Cello Concerto with Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst (May 4 & 6), Multisensory “FRAGMENTS” Project in Cleveland (May 11) and All-Star Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in NYC (May 20)

(April 2023) — After opening her spring season with a presentation of the first installment of her major new multisensory performance series, “FRAGMENTS,” in Carnegie Hall, MacArthur award-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein takes the piece to the Severance Music Center’s Mandel Concert Hall in Cleveland (May 11). Perhaps her most ambitious and personal project to date, the new solo cello series sees her weave together the 36 movements of Bach’s solo cello suites with 27 new commissions to make six programs, each an hour long, for solo cello. The cellist gave the world premiere performance of “FRAGMENTS 1 & 2” in Toronto this past January, and “FRAGMENTS 2” will be presented at Tanglewood this coming summer (Aug 9). Click here to watch a preview of “FRAGMENTS.” Also this spring, Weilerstein looks forward to concerto performances of Strauss’s Don Quixote with the Montreal Symphony led by Rafael Payare (April 26 & 27); Barber’s Cello Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst (May 4 & 6); Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 with the Dresden Philharmonic and Thomas Dausgaard (June 10 & 11); and Ligeti’s Cello Concerto with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony led by Jakub Hrůša (June 14–16). Some notable chamber performances are also on the cellist’s calendar this spring. She collaborates with Inon Barnatan in San Francisco – on the heels of the release of their Beethoven sonata album on Pentatone last year – to perform cello sonatas by Beethoven, Britten, de Falla and Rachmaninoff (May 14); and performs for the first time in New York City as a trio with pianist Daniil Trifonov and violinist Stefan Jackiw at New York’s 92nd Street Y, in a program of Lutosławski, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky (May 20).

Weilerstein arrived at the idea for “FRAGMENTS” during the lockdowns and concert cancellations of 2020, as she thought about ways to reconnect with audiences and, as she says, “make the concert experience more visceral, intense and welcoming.” Ranging in age from 26 to 83, the composers she commissioned are also diverse with respect to race, gender, geography, compositional approach, musical style and stage of career (see full list below). The cellist asked all 27 to write ten minutes of music in two or three standalone fragments that she could program between other new excerpts or movements by Bach. She then took on the task of integrating the new works with Bach’s music to create the six installments of “FRAGMENTS,” each of which embraces a wide variety of compositional voices to trace a powerful and wholly original emotional arc.

In addition to the composers, Weilerstein’s collaborators include artistic producer and advisor Hanako Yamaguchi, the former Director of Music Programming at New York’s Lincoln Center; and director Elkhanah Pulitzer, who has explored the intersection of music and theater in productions for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera and other leading performing arts organizations. Original costumes are by Carlos J. Soto, who has worked with artists including Solange, Davóne Tines and Robert Wilson, and sensitive lighting and set design is by Seth Reiser, known for his “almost musical sense of lighting” (San Diego Union-Tribune).

In a New York Times preview of the Zankel performance, David Allen wrote:

“If Weilerstein’s response was a common one to a common crisis, the result of her reflections shines with uncommon ambition, so much so that it is hard to think of many soloists of a similar stature who would dare to bring anything like it to the stage. … This project is intended to reimagine what a cello recital can be, to challenge some of the conventions that Weilerstein thinks might inhibit a listener’s immediate response to the music, and to add layers of theatricality to the arguably staid traditions of the concert hall, in an acceptance that a musician is, after all, performing on a stage.”

Widely recognized as a leading exponent of Bach’s six solo cello suites, Weilerstein scored a Gramophone Award nomination for her Billboard-bestselling recording of the complete set. She has also worked closely with a host of contemporary composers and is the dedicatee of important new concertos by Matthias Pintscher, Joan Tower and Pascal Dusapin, whose Outscape she gave “the kind of debut most composers can only dream of” (Chicago Tribune).

Click here and here to download high-resolution photos.

Alisa Weilerstein: spring/summer engagements
April 26 & 27
Montreal, QC
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) / Rafael Payare
STRAUSS: Don Quixote

May 4 & 6
Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst
BARBER: Cello Concerto

May 11
Cleveland, OH
Severance Music Center (Mandel Concert Hall)
Alisa Weilerstein, project creator & performer
Elkhanah Pulitzer, director
Hanako Yamaguchi, artistic producer & advisor
Seth Reiser, set & lighting design
Carlos J Soto, costume design
Featured composers:
Andy Akiho, J.S. Bach, Courtney Bryan, Chen Yi, Alan Fletcher, Gabriela Lena Frank, Osvaldo Golijov, Joseph Hallman, Gabriel Kahane, Daniel Kidane, Thomas Larcher, Tania León, Allison Loggins-Hull, Missy Mazzoli, Gerard McBurney, Jessie Montgomery, Reinaldo Moya, Jeffrey Mumford, Matthias Pintscher, Gity Razaz, Gili Schwarzman, Caroline Shaw, Carlos Simon, Gabriella Smith, Ana Sokolović, Joan Tower, Mathilde Wantenaar, Paul Wiancko

Leadership support for “FRAGMENTS” is generously provided by Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Patron support for “FRAGMENTS” is provided by Judy and Tony Evnin, Clara Wu Tsai and Paul Sekhri. “FRAGMENTS” has been made possible with commissioning support from Alphadyne Foundation, the San Diego Symphony, UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures, Carnegie Hall, Celebrity Series of Boston, and The Royal Conservatory of Music for the 21C Festival. Special thanks to Martha Gilmer for her leadership and counsel, and to Celebrity Series of Boston and Aspen Music Festival and School for their in-kind contributions.

May 14
San Francisco, CA
Herbst Theatre
Duo recital with Inon Barnatan, piano
BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonata No. 5 in D, Op. 102, No. 2
BRITTEN: Cello Sonata, Op. 68
DE FALLA: Suite Populaire Espagnole
RACHMANINOFF: Cello Sonata, Op. 19

May 20
New York, NY
92nd Street Y
Trio recital with Stefan Jackiw, violin; Daniil Trifonov, piano
RACHMANINOFF: Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Trio in A minor

May 26
Charleston, SC
Charleston Gaillard Center
With Anthony Roth Costanzo, Stephen Prutsman, Paul Groves, Livia Sohn
HAYDN: Symphony No. 102
ELGAR: Salut d’Amour
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor

June 10 & 11
Dresden, Germany
Dresden Philharmonic / Thomas Dausgaard
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2

June 14–16
Vienna, Austria
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra / Jakub Hrůša
LIGETI: Cello Concerto

Aug 9
Lenox, MA

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© 21C Media Group, April 2023


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