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Alisa Weilerstein’s Winter/Spring 2024: Barber in Stockholm with Rafael Payare, Elgar on Tour with Detroit Symphony led by Jader Bignamini, Wigmore and Barcelona Duo Recitals with Inon Barnatan, “FRAGMENTS 4” Premiere in Washington, DC and More

(January 2024)—MacArthur award-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein begins the new year revisiting three staples of the cello repertoire. Under the baton of her husband, Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, she performs Barber’s Cello Concerto with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (Jan 31 & Feb 1). Soon thereafter she gives three performances of Haydn’s Concerto in C with the Boston Symphony led by Karina Canellakis (Feb 8–10), before going on tour in Florida performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Detroit Symphony and Music Director Jader Bignamini, culminating with two concerts back in Detroit (Feb 13–25). Later in the spring, the cellist gives the Seattle Symphony premiere performance of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto led by Shiyeon Sung (April 18–20); reprises Pascal Dusapin’s Outscape concerto, written for her and premiered in 2016, with the Valencia Orchestra led by Baldur Brönnimann (April 25); plays a string orchestra arrangement of Schumann’s sole cello concerto with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (April 23); joins Ryan Bancroft and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto (June 6), and plays the Barber concerto once again with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra led by Kevin John Edusei (June 13). Weilerstein also continues her acclaimed multisensory solo cello project, “FRAGMENTS,” this spring, with the world premiere of FRAGMENTS 4 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in Washington, DC (April 6). She joins pianist Inon Barnatan for Britten and Brahms sonatas at London’s Wigmore Hall (March 6) and Beethoven’s complete sonatas in Barcelona (March 7); gives a solo performance of Bach, Kodály and Joan Tower at New York’s 92NY (April 3); and plays Tan Dun’s Elegy: Snow in June for Cello and Percussion Quartet at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with percussion ensemble Sandbox (May 7).

Concertos: Barber, Haydn, Elgar, Lutosławski, Dusapin, Schumann, Dvořák

As BachTrack reported after Weilerstein’s performance of Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra this past spring: “She was in full command of the fearsome, thorny technical demands, not in the least during the daunting cadenza and the first movement’s bracing finish.” The Barber is just one of the gems of the repertoire the cellist revisits during the remainder of the 2023–24 season, along with favorite examples of the genre by Haydn, Elgar and Dvořák. Turning to more recent repertoire, she plays Lutosławski’s concerto – called “one of the Polish composer’s greatest achievements” by The Guardian – with celebrated Korean conductor Shiyeon Sung leading the Seattle Symphony in its first performance of the work.

She reprises Pascal Dusapin’s Outscape concerto, written for her and commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and several European partners, with the Valencia Orchestra led by Baldur Brönnimann. Weilerstein also collaborates for the first time with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra this spring, performing Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto arranged for string orchestra by Wolfgang Birtel, along with a movement from Clara Schumann’s G minor Piano Trio and Brahms’s First Sextet in B-flat major.

“FRAGMENTS 4” premiere

Known for her “stylistic sensitivity, verve and spontaneous delight in discovery” (The Guardian), Weilerstein introduced her major new multisensory performance series, “FRAGMENTS,” last season in Toronto, Southern California, Carnegie Hall, Cleveland, and Tanglewood. The series weaves together the 36 movements of Bach’s solo cello suites with 27 new commissions to make six unique programs, each an hour long, for solo cello. Tracing a powerful and wholly original emotional arc, each program embraces a wide variety of compositional voices, the composers being diverse with respect to age, race, gender, geography, compositional approach, musical style and stage of career (see below for complete list). All six programs are performed without pauses, applause or program details in a multisensory production by director Elkhanah Pulitzer and artistic producer and advisor Hanako Yamaguchi, with responsive lighting and architectural elements by Seth Reiser and original costumes by Carlos J Soto. Click here to watch a preview of “FRAGMENTS.”

This spring, the series continues with the world premiere of FRAGMENTS 4 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in Washington, DC, along with a performance of FRAGMENTS 2 on the same day. Previewing last season’s Carnegie Hall performance, the New York Times observed: “It is hard to think of many soloists of a similar stature who would dare to bring anything like it to the stage.”

The performance of FRAGMENTS 4 is supported by the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Fund.

Chamber performances

Recognized as one of the leading exponents of Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello, Weilerstein gave rapturously received live accounts of the complete set of suites on three continents prior to using them as part of the FRAGMENTS series. At New York’s 92NY in April, she pairs Bach’s first and third suites with Kodály’s B-minor Sonata for solo cello and Joan Tower’s For Alisa. Tower composed the cello concerto A New Day for Weilerstein in 2021, and For Alisa is one of the new works featured in FRAGMENTS.

Another set of chamber performances takes place in March, when Weilerstein rejoins longtime recital partner Inon Barnatan for back-to-back performances in the UK and Spain. First, in London’s Wigmore Hall, they give a recital of cello sonatas by Britten and Brahms. The next day they present Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas – as heard on their most recent Pentatone release – in Barcelona. As Gramophone said of the disc: “If you’re after a recording that’ll blow open the windows of this music and scour away your preconceptions – well, look no further than Weilerstein and Barnatan.”

Finally, Weilerstein joins Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in May for Tan Dun’s Elegy: Snow in June for Cello and Percussion Quartet, a visceral remembrance of the Tiananmen Square conflict that is also a lament for victims everywhere. The image of “Snow in June” comes from a 13th-century Chinese drama by Kuan Han-Ching. In it a young woman, Dou Eh, is executed for crimes she did not commit, causing even nature to rebel: her blood does not fall to earth but flies upward, a heavy snow falls in June, and a drought descends for three years.

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

“FRAGMENTS” for solo cello
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 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.

Alisa Weilerstein: winter/spring 2024 engagements
Jan 31 & Feb 1
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra / Rafael Payare
BARBER: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 22

Feb 3
Helsinki, Finland
BACH: Cello Suites Nos. 2, 3 & 6

Feb 8, 9, 10
Boston, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Karina Canellakis
HAYDN: Cello Concerto in C

Feb 13–25
Florida Tour & Detroit Dates
Detroit Symphony Orchestra / Jader Bignamini
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor

Feb 13: Gainesville

Feb 15: Miami

Feb 17 & 18: West Palm Beach

Feb 19: Sarasota

Feb 20: Vero Beach

Feb 24 & 25: Detroit, MI

March 6
London, England
Inon Barnatan, piano
BRITTEN: Cello Sonata in C, Op. 65
BRAHMS: Cello Sonata No. 2 in F, Op. 99

March 7
Barcelona, Spain
BEETHOVEN: Complete cello sonatas

April 3
New York, NY
BACH: Suite No. 3 in C, BWV 1009
KODÁLY: Sonata in B minor for solo cello
Joan TOWER: For Alisa
BACH: Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007

April 6
Washington, DC
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
FRAGMENTS 4 (world premiere) & FRAGMENTS 2

April 18 & 20
Seattle, WA
Seattle Symphony / Shiyeon Sung
LUTOSŁAWSKI: Cello Concerto

April 23
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Daria Zappa Matesic, violin; Yulia Miloslavskaya, piano
Clara SCHUMANN: Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17, I. Allegro moderato
Robert SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (arr. for cello and string orchestra by Wolfgang Birtel)
BRAHMS: String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 18

April 25
Valencia, Spain
Palau de la Música
Valencia Orchestra / Baldur Brönnimann
Pascal DUSAPIN: Outscape

May 7
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Tan DUN: Elegy: Snow in June for Cello and Percussion Quartet (with Sandbox Percussion)

June 6
Cardiff, UK
BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Ryan Bancroft
DVOŘÁK: Cello Concerto

June 13
Birmingham, England
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Kevin John Edusei
BARBER: Cello Concerto

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© 21C Media Group, January 2024


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