September 23, 2020
Following the enormous success of its online series “Bach at Home” this past summer, Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) launches OSLive Streaming with two live streaming series this fall. Hosted by David Hyde Pierce, “The October Chamber Series” presents Jeremy Denk, Stefan Jackiw and the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble in four chamber concerts streaming live next month from the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, OSL’s production, recording and performance center in Manhattan. Next, the ensemble performs chamber classics and works highlighting living composers in “Composers of Note,” four free concerts streaming live from New York City’s Temple Emanu-El in November. The series celebrates some of the composers championed in recent seasons through OSL’s “Music in Color” programming initiative, which expands online in November with the release of two original biographical concert webcasts, both featuring musical performances interspersed with narrative ones to bring the composers’ experiences to life. The Legacy of Florence Price is designed to introduce young people to classical music and will be provided free of charge to more than 5,000 New York City students. The Imagination of Eleanor Alberga, featuring the North American premiere of the composer’s Shining Gate of Morpheus, will be presented in December, also free of charge, via OSLmusic.org and the websites of partner venues in all five city boroughs. Long known and loved as New York’s “hometown band” (New York Times), OSL has demonstrated rare versatility and innovation during the pandemic by transitioning its annual “OSL Bach Festival” into the successful month-long and entirely digital “Bach at Home” festival; transitioning its education services from in-person to distance learning; piloting other digital initiatives; and creating this new, robust fall lineup.
To meet the music industry’s pressing need for video livestreams, OSL has expanded the DiMenna Center’s already well-developed live audio and music production capacities with cameras, broadcast equipment and associated production services. Well known to Broadway producers and to major motion picture and television studios, the DiMenna Center is perfectly positioned to help performing arts producers – and ensembles large and small – to reach worldwide audiences through digital media. As one “Bach at Home” viewer put it, it’s “inspiring to see people continuing to make beautiful music despite the restrictions we are facing.”
James Roe, OSL’s President and Executive Director, comments:
“People throughout our city, society and world yearn for the beauty, meaning and connection of music-making. Through OSLive Streaming and the expanded music production capacity of the DiMenna Center, OSL bridges the distance between artists and their audiences. The performing arts are set to play a vital role in the recovery of our city and the healing of our communities. The supporters who sustained us through this challenging period now join us in looking to the future as OSL – always known for its innovative spark – lights a musical beacon to brighten the path ahead.”
OSL looks forward to announcing its winter and spring programming in December. This will include an expansion of OSLive Streaming, potential in-person performances and other initiatives. The orchestra’s summer programming will be announced in March.
OSLive Streaming: “The October Chamber Series” (Oct 7–28)
OSLive Streaming launches with “The October Chamber Series,” which presents members of the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble – the orchestra’s artistic core – in music by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms. Hosted by OSL board member, Tony-winner and four-time Emmy-winner David Hyde Pierce, the four-concert series streams live on Wednesday evenings throughout October from the DiMenna Center. Designed and built by musicians for musicians, the venue is New York’s only acoustically optimized rehearsal and recording space dedicated to classical music. Fully outfitted with the infrastructure to transmit top-quality video and audio streams, the DiMenna Center is perfectly appointed for safe, socially distanced rehearsal, recording and livestreaming. All four October livestreams will be recorded by OSL’s longtime audio partner, Audiosmith Digital Solutions, and directed by Tristan Cook, whose distinguished filmography includes a recent episode of Live From Lincoln Center and the award-nominated music documentary Strangers on the Earth.
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (courtesy of OSL)
To kick off the series, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble joins forces with Jeremy Denk for performances of Brahms’s Piano Quintet and a chamber rendition of Bach’s Fifth Keyboard Concerto (Oct 7). The musicians and pianist reunite two weeks later for Ferdinand Ries’s piano quartet transcription of Beethoven’s mighty “Eroica” Symphony, on a program with Franz Anton Hoffmeister’s flute quartet arrangement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11, K.331, which features the beloved Rondo alla Turca (Oct 21). One of America’s foremost pianists, Denk has accrued a string of honors including the Avery Fisher Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship. His association with OSL is long-standing. Ten years ago, it was he who selected the DiMenna Center’s Steinway pianos. Since then, he has appeared three times with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall, undertaking the solo roles in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, “Choral Fantasy,” and First Piano Concerto, in which his “idiosyncratic, colorful rendition matched the ensemble’s distinctive approach” (New York Times). As BachTrack agreed, “A real star, Denk was also a natural extension of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.”
Bookended by these performances, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble gives an account of Schubert’s Octet, one of the ensemble’s signature pieces (Oct 14), before concluding the October Chamber Series in collaboration with Stefan Jackiw, “one of the most insightful violinists of his generation” (Boston Globe). Having wowed international audiences as a teenage prodigy with his interpretation of the famous Mendelssohn concerto, Jackiw now joins the ensemble for a chamber rendition of the composer’s lesser-known D-minor Concerto, written when Mendelssohn himself was just 13. This shares the program with the Grande sestetto concertante, an uncredited 1808 string sextet arrangement of Mozart’s exuberant Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra (Oct 28).
“The October Chamber Series” builds on the success of June’s “Bach at Home.” Deftly designed to replace OSL’s annual Bach Festival (which would have included live events at Carnegie Hall, the DiMenna Center, Temple Emanu-El and Manhattan School of Music), “Bach at Home” marked the orchestra’s first significant expansion into digital programming. Major underwriting for the research, development and creation of online content was provided by a two-year grant from the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund (a program of the League of American Orchestras, made possible by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation). Comprising more than 30 video performances by OSL musicians and their guests, including the world premieres of new Bach-inspired solo instrumental works and Doug Varone’s Dance to Bach, as well as numerous interviews, discussions and essays, the resulting month-long curated online festival represented an especially ambitious and nimble response to the pandemic, and was an unequivocal success. The festival reached almost 11,000 unique new visitors, and 98% of respondents to OSL’s survey found the performances “good to excellent.” One viewer commented: “The filming of the ensemble was very well done and really conveyed the performance experience of OSL that we love.”
Click here to see OSL musicians perform Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie’s original arrangement of the Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations in “Bach at Home.”
Tickets for each concert in “The October Chamber Series” include access to the livestream and to unlimited on-demand viewing for the next seven days. They are available for donations of as little as $1, with a suggested donation of $40 per household, per concert. For more information, click here.
OSLive Streaming: “Composers of Note” series (Nov 9–30)
In “Composers of Note,” OSL’s second fall concert series presented by The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble performs mainstays of the chamber repertoire and significant works, past and present, by composers of color, with a focus on some of the composers championed in OSL’s “Music in Color” programming initiative. The featured works include several that were co-commissioned in collaboration with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. By reviving these recent compositions, OSL demonstrates its commitment not only to commissioning new works but also to giving them a life beyond their premieres. The four concerts will stream live on Monday evenings in November from the storied New York synagogue.
The series opens with “Musical Revolutionaries,” grouping Beethoven’s C-major String Quintet, nicknamed “Der Sturm” (The Storm), with Matthew Evan Taylor’s Dawn of a New Day and Anjna Swaminathan’s Duplicity (Nov 9). Representing something of the breadth and diversity of contemporary American composition, the works by Taylor and Swaminathan were co-commissioned by OSL and the Gabriel Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, and premiered as part of the orchestra’s 2018-19 “Music in Color” Five Borough Tour. So too was Christine Delphine Hedden’s Cuimhne, now heard alongside the First String Quintet by Brahms and Second String Quartet by Florence Price, the first African-American woman to have a work performed by a major U.S. orchestra, in “Connections Across Time and Space” (Nov 16). Next, “Bologne + Mozart” showcases two Classical masters, with the sole Clarinet Quintet by Mozart and Fourth String Quartet by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was born into slavery in 18th-century Guadeloupe and went on to become one of the leading musicians of Revolutionary Paris (Nov 23). The series concludes with “The Cello in Motion,” juxtaposing Schubert’s transcendent String Quintet in C with Ride Through for solo cello by Eleanor Alberga, the Jamaican-born composer whose high-profile commissions include works for London’s BBC Proms and the Royal Opera (Nov 30).
Tickets for “Composers of Note” are free, but registration is required. For more information, click here.
“Music in Color”: free webcasts celebrating Eleanor Alberga and Florence Price
Eleanor Alberga is also the subject of this season’s iteration of OSL’s “Music in Color” initiative, which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Launched five years ago to highlight the work and lives of composers of color, the program has previously explored the music of Florence Price, Gabriela Lena Frank and the Chevalier de Saint-Georges through free multidisciplinary orchestral and chamber concerts across the five New York City boroughs. On December 3, in place of this fall’s originally scheduled live “Music in Color” programming, OSL releases The Imagination of Eleanor Alberga, a new webcast featuring the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble’s North American premiere of the composer’s Shining Gate of Morpheus for horn and string quartet. Presented free of charge via OSLmusic.org and the websites of partner venues in each of the five city boroughs – Manhattan’s New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Public Library, Queens’s Flushing Town Hall, the Bronx’s Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture and Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center – the webcast will include engaging biographical interpolations narrated by Kirya Traber, the award-winning co-host of PBS’s First Person. Where the narrative elements of OSL’s past “Music in Color” community concerts were family friendly, The Imagination of Eleanor Alberga is designed with adults in mind. By introducing the under-sung composer’s life and music to viewers throughout the city, OSL aims to shine a light on her achievements while expanding the audience for classical music.
Over the past four decades, OSL’s Free School Concerts program has reached more than a million children. OSL continues to serve more than 5,000 New York City public school students this fall, with the release on November 5 of a new webcast created expressly for schools, celebrating The Legacy of Florence Price. The subject of OSL’s 2018-19 “Music in Color” program, Price made history in 1933 when her award-winning First Symphony was premiered by the Chicago Symphony, but she otherwise fell victim to racism and sexism, receiving little more recognition during her lifetime. Provided free of charge to schools, OSL’s new webcast presents the orchestra in performances of her music featuring soprano Jasmine Muhammad, who appeared at the Metropolitan Opera last season in Porgy and Bess. The biographical material will be narrated, once again, by Kirya Traber.
Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL)
OSL’s extensive educational offerings also include the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), an after-school youth orchestra program developed and operated in partnership with the Police Athletic League of New York City and local Hell’s Kitchen schools. Having transitioned to distance learning, YOSL currently provides weekly Zoom lessons and twice-monthly practice videos to its young violin, viola, cello, flute and clarinet students.
DiMenna Center Education Benefit
To raise funds for OSL’s educational initiatives, the annual DiMenna Center Education Benefit will stream live on October 20 at 7pm. Hosted by internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Susan Graham – “an artist to treasure” (New York Times) – this special event will feature a guest appearance by star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.
OSL Relief Fund success
OSL responded swiftly to the COVID-19 crisis this past spring, canceling concerts, suspending activity at the DiMenna Center and transitioning the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s to distance learning. To counteract the resulting loss of revenue while continuing to sustain the organization and mission, OSL’s Board of Directors promptly established the OSL Relief Fund. Thanks to overwhelming donor commitment, which included leadership support from the Howard Gilman Foundation and the New York Community Trust, this succeeded in raising more than $1,000,000 in the 2020-21 financial year. As a result, the organization has been able to pay all musicians in full for cancelled concerts, reach audiences and students online, and maintain, retrofit and reopen the DiMenna Center. Now entering the 2021-22 financial year, OSL will launch its annual campaign cycle for the new season.
About St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music
St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble was founded in 1974, when a group of virtuoso musicians began performing chamber concerts at Greenwich Village’s Church of St. Luke in the Fields. Today, the 24 ensemble musicians make up the artistic core of Orchestra of St. Luke’s, pairing beloved chamber works with neglected rarities in OSL’s Chamber Music Series and anchoring almost every program presented by the orchestra. Regular seasons also see the OSL perform in diverse musical genres at all New York’s major concert venues, drawing on an expanded roster for large-scale works, and collaborating with artists ranging from Joshua Bell and Renée Fleming to Bono and Metallica. The orchestra has commissioned more than 50 new works and has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres, as well as participating in 118 recordings, four of which have been recognized with Grammy Awards. Internationally celebrated for his expertise in 18th-century music, Bernard Labadie was appointed as OSL’s Principal Conductor in 2018, continuing the orchestra’s long tradition of working with proponents of historical performance practice. Built and operated by OSL, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music opened in 2011. New York City’s only rehearsal, recording, education and performance space expressly dedicated to classical music, it serves more 500 ensembles and 30,000 musicians each year.
Orchestra of St. Luke’s: fall programming
OSLive Streaming: “The October Chamber Series”
St Luke’s Chamber Ensemble with David Hyde Pierce, host
Streaming live from the DiMenna Center for Classical Music
Ticketed; suggested donation: $40 per household, per concert; minimum donation: $1 per concert
For more information, click here.
Wed, Oct 7 at 6:30pm EDT
BACH: Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F minor (performed with single strings)
BRAHMS: Piano Quintet
With Jeremy Denk, piano
Wed, Oct 14 at 6:30pm EDT
Wed, Oct 21 at 6:30pm EDT
MOZART (arr. for flute quartet by Hoffmeister): Piano Sonata No. 11, K. 331
BEETHOVEN (arr. for piano quartet by Ries): Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
With Jeremy Denk, piano
Wed, Oct 28 at 6:30pm EDT
MOZART (arr. anon): Grande sestetto concertante
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in D minor (performed as string quintet)
With Stefan Jackiw, violin
OSLive Streaming: “Composers of Note”
St Luke’s Chamber Ensemble
Streaming live from Temple Emanu-El
Ticketed; free of charge
For more information, click here.
Mon, Nov 9 at 6:30pm EST
MATTHEW EVAN TAYLOR: Dawn of a New Day (OSL co-commission)
ANJNA SWAMINATHAN: Duplicity (OSL co-commission)
BEETHOVEN: String Quintet, Op. 29
Mon, Nov 16 at 6:30pm EST
“Connections Across Time and Space”
CHRISTINE DELPHINE HEDDEN: Cuimhne (OSL co-commission)
FLORENCE PRICE: String Quartet No. 2
BRAHMS: String Sextet No. 1
Mon, Nov 23 at 6:30pm EST
“Bologne + Mozart”
CHEVALIER DE ST. GEORGES: String Quartet No. 4 in C minor
MOZART: Clarinet Quintet
Mon, Nov 30 at 6:30pm EST
“The Cello in Motion”
ELEANOR ALBERGA: Ride Through
SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C
DiMenna Center Education Benefit
Special livestream; or more information, click here.
Tues, Oct 20 at 7pm EDT
Host: Susan Graham, mezzo soprano
Special guest: Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor
Education and Community Engagement
Thurs, Nov 5
Free School Concert webcast release; click here for more information.
The Legacy of Florence Price
With Jasmine Muhammad, soprano; Kirya Traber, narrator
Thurs, Dec 3
Five Borough Tour webcast release; click here for more information.
The Imagination of Eleanor Alberga
Program to include
ELEANOR ALBERGA: Shining Gate of Morpheus (North American premiere)
With Kirya Traber, narrator
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© 21C Media Group, September 2020