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Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Bernard Labadie Present 2022 Bach Festival in Association with Carnegie Hall (June 2–22)

Bernard Labadie (photo: Winnie Au)

(May 2022)—After a rapturously received performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at Carnegie Hall last month, Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) – “one of the most versatile and galvanic ensembles in the U.S.” (WQXR) – and Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie present the third edition of the annual OSL Bach Festival (June 2–22). The four-concert series opens with a program of symphonies and cello concertos by Haydn and C.P.E. Bach, two of the composers most directly influenced by the latter’s father, showcasing cellist Steven Isserlis, one of only two living cellists featured in Gramophone’s Hall of Fame. Next follows an evening of music by J. S. Bach and his contemporaries, including the U.S. premiere of Labadie’s original arrangement of Pachelbel’s E-minor Chaconne, as well as guest appearances by soprano Amanda Forsythe, oboist Philippe Tondre, and violinist Stefan Jackiw. The series culminates with Labadie’s leadership of and illuminating commentary on Bach’s A Musical Offering. A complex and highly chromatic work, A Musical Offering also provides inspiration for the penultimate concert of the festival, featuring new works for chamber orchestra by four emerging composers, developed under the tutelage of Grammy-nominated English composer Anna Clyne through OSL’s DeGaetano Composition Institute. These new compositions will receive their world premieres under the baton of Ben Gernon, former Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic. Looking ahead to next season, OSL returns to Carnegie Hall for three performances: an all-Mendelssohn program featuring British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor; a program of Mozart and Schubert with pianist Emanuel Ax; and an all-Handel program featuring La Chapelle de Québec, the Canadian chorus founded by Labadie that also performed in April’s resoundingly praised performance of the St. Matthew Passion.


Third annual OSL Bach Festival (June 2–22)

The first OSL Bach Festival, held in 2019, was an ambitious three-week, citywide initiative, while the second transitioned into last year’s month-long virtual “Bach at Home” festival, reaching almost 11,000 unique new visitors online. In June, OSL returns to live and in-person performances once more, with four concerts – three of them led by Labadie himself – at two New York City venues: Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (June 2, 7 & 22) and Neidorff-Karpati Hall at Manhattan School of Music (June 15).

Labadie has become a prominent fixture in and leader of New York City’s cultural life, and his contract as OSL’s Principal Conductor has just been extended through the orchestra’s 50th anniversary season in 2023-24. Renowned worldwide for his interpretations of Baroque and Classical repertoire, he is the Founding Conductor of Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Québec, ensembles with which he regularly tours Canada, the U.S. and Europe. A regular presence as a guest conductor with many leading North American orchestras and increasingly in demand with period-instrument orchestras, Labadie is equally distinguished as an opera conductor and has served as Artistic Director of both Opéra de Québec and Opéra de Montréal. His leadership of the St. Matthew Passion last month was met with unanimous acclaim: the New York Times declared that under his baton “the music was unwaveringly measured but balanced; its flashes of grandeur didn’t need to be overstated to land powerfully.” The same review continued:

“The ‘St. Matthew Passion’ is more meditation than melodrama, and this reading carried that belief to the final measure – its dissonance barely held, the slightest tension resolving with the grace of the restfulness it’s meant to reflect.”

Likewise, New York magazine had only praise for Labadie’s leadership:

“At its core was the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, one of our perpetually underappreciated hometown groups. The result was a luminous rarity: a baroque behemoth performed by a big ensemble with delicacy, lightness, and paschal fervor…. Labadie … managed that complex flow of beauty and rage with a mastery worthy of DeMille. … I don’t mean to suggest that Labadie punched up the melodrama; he doled out more grace than brimstone, and his rhetoric tilted toward understatement. He got the strings to play with effervescent lightness and bound the two orchestras and three choirs into weightless counterpoint.”

Opera News agreed:

“The Saint Matthew Passion may be a musical monument, but as interpreted by Bernard Labadie and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, it was anything but a shrine. … Labadie and his forces brought out the humanity as much as the grandeur of the Bach masterpiece. … The phrasing throughout was supple and buoyant: the performance breathed. The OSL is in part an assemblage of chamber-music players, a quality that came through in the small-ensemble passages with which the work abounds. But it is also a top-notch orchestra, and its playing in massed passages was marked by unity of ensemble and transparent textures.”

2022-23 Carnegie Season

Labadie and OSL kick off their 2022-23 season at Carnegie Hall in November with the continuation of a multi-season focus on the works of Felix Mendelssohn. The program opens with his Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, about whom the New York Times raves: “He commands the stage with aristocratic ease … Mr. Grosvenor makes you sigh with joy … A temperament rare in yesteryear, let alone now.” To complement that work, Labadie conducts Mendelssohn’s complete incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with vocal parts sung by soprano Lauren Snouffer and mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall and narration by OSL board member, Tony-winner and four-time Emmy-winner David Hyde Pierce (Nov 17).

In February, OSL returns to Carnegie Hall with pianist Emanuel Ax – praised by the Houston Chronicle for his “fleet, seemingly effortless, un-showy virtuosity” and “unpretentious, masterful way with Mozart” – to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18. Also featured on the program is Schubert’s final completed symphony, his “Great” Symphony No. 9 (Feb 9).

OSL’s final Carnegie Hall performance of 2022-23 features Labadie conducting an all-Handel program with La Chapelle de Québec – one of the three choirs heard in April’s St. Matthew Passion – and soloists. The royal-themed program comprises Handel’s four coronation anthems composed for King George II; his Music for the Royal Fireworks, composed under contract for the same monarch to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; and his Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (April 13).

About Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) grew from a group of virtuoso musicians performing chamber music concerts at Greenwich Village’s Church of St. Luke in the Fields in 1974. Regular seasons see OSL perform in diverse musical genres at 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, while also 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 than 500 ensembles and 30,000 musicians each year.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Orchestra of St. Luke’s: OSL Bach Festival and Carnegie Dates 2022-23

June 2
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall)
OSL Presents: OSL Bach Festival 2022
“Steven Isserlis plays Haydn and Bach”
Presented in association with Carnegie Hall
Bernard Labadie, Principal Conductor
HAYDN: Symphony No. 26, “Lamentatione”
C.P.E. BACH: Cello Concerto in A (with Steven Isserlis, cello)
C.P.E. BACH: Symphony in E-flat
HAYDN: Cello Concerto in C (with Steven Isserlis, cello)

June 7
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall)
OSL Presents: OSL Bach Festival 2022
“Virtuoso Concertos”
Presented in association with Carnegie Hall
Bernard Labadie, Principal Conductor
PACHELBEL (arr. LABADIE): Chaconne in E minor (U.S. premiere)
HANDEL: Concerto grosso in D minor Op. 6, No. 10, HWV 328
BACH: Concerto for oboe d’amore in A, BWV 1055R (with Philippe Tondre, oboe)
BACH: Concerto for oboe and violin in C minor, BWV 1060R (with Philippe Tondre, oboe; Stefan Jackiw, violin)
HANDEL: Silete venti, HWV 242 (with Amanda Forsythe, soprano)

June 15
New York, NY
Manhattan School of Music (Neidorff-Karpati Hall)
OSL Presents: OSL Bach Festival 2022
“Bach Today: World Premieres for Chamber Orchestra”
Ben Gernon, conductor
DeGaetano Composition Institute composers KEVIN DAY, CHARLES PECK, JEREMY RAPAPORT-STEIN & NICKY SOHN: new compositions based on BACH’s A Musical Offering (world premieres)

June 22
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall)
OSL Presents: OSL Bach Festival 2022
“A Narrated Musical Offering”
Presented in association with Carnegie Hall
Bernard Labadie, Principal Conductor and narrator
BACH: A Musical Offering


Nov 17
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium)
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream with David Hyde Pierce”
Bernard Labadie, Principal Conductor
David Hyde Pierce, narrator
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Lauren Snouffer, soprano
Cecelia Hall, mezzo-soprano
MENDELSSOHN: Piano Concerto No. 1
MENDELSSOHN: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61 (complete incidental music)

Feb 9, 2023
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium)
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
“Emanuel Ax Plays Mozart”
Bernard Labadie, Principal Conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat Major, K. 456
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 9, “Great”

April 13, 2023
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium)
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
“Handel’s Royal Fireworks”
Bernard Labadie, Principal Conductor
Joélle Harvey, soprano
Iestyn Davies, countertenor
Matthew Brook, bass-baritone
La Chapelle de Québec
HANDEL: Coronation Anthems
“Zadok the priest,” HWV 258
“The king shall rejoice,” HWV 260
“My heart is inditing,” HWV 261
“Let thy hand be strengthened,” HWV 259
HANDEL: Music for the Royal Fireworks
HANDEL: Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV 74

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© 21C Media Group, May 2022


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