The Orchestra in Motion
By Karissa Krenz
New traditions are gaining momentum at the New York Philharmonic. Music Director Alan Gilbert speaks with Karissa Krenz on the interests and initiatives that underlie the Orchestra’s 2013–14 season.
As Music Director Alan Gilbert looks forward to his fifth year leading the New York Philharmonic, he realizes that his vision for a 21st-century Orchestra has truly taken shape. The 2013–14 season celebrates the organization’s incredible history and builds upon the initiatives instituted when Gilbert began — firmly establishing them as a new Philharmonic tradition of more recent vintage.
“From the start I had hoped that the seemingly disparate initiatives we introduced when I arrived would eventually collide, inter- sect, and intertwine in a natural, organic way,” Music Director Alan Gilbert says. “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 with fresh perspectives on masterpieces of the past, to become an exciting mix.”
Two days after the Opening Gala (featuring celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul and Octavio Brunet- ti’s arrangement of a suite from Piazzolla’s La serie del Ángel), the subscription season begins with Yefim Bronfman’s tenure as The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. Bronfman will make 23 appearances, performing an array of repertoire including Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and the reprise of Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which the Philharmonic commissioned and premiered in 2012.
“This residency will make it possible to present a very rich and vivid portrait of who Fima is and what he stands for as an artist,” says Gilbert. “When Fima is onstage, his love of life really comes through, and I’m al- ways inspired by his perfection.”
The pianist will conclude his tenure with The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philhar- monic Festival. During three subscription weeks he’ll tackle the complete Beethoven Piano Concerto cycle, as well as the Triple Concerto with the Philharmonic’s Concert- master Glenn Dicterow and Principal Cello Carter Brey. The festival will also feature the first works commissioned as part of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music — by Anthony Cheung and 2012 Kravis Emerging Composer Sean Shepherd. Also under the Kravis umbrella, Christopher Rouse returns for his second season as Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence. Highlights include Rouse’s Oboe Concerto with Principal Oboe Liang Wang, Rapture (in New York and on tour), and the World Premiere of the Philharmonic–commissioned Symphony No. 4. Additionally, Gilbert will lead Rouse’s Requiem, which opens Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival.
“To perform the Requiem is a big deal for me personally,” says Gilbert. “It’s a huge undertaking for massive forces, with chorus and big orchestra. To be able to launch this very large-scale work, and do it for the first time in New York City... I know Chris is ecstatic about it — but I think for all of us, it’s a really important moment.”
Additional contemporary music highlights include the U.S. Premiere of Julian Anderson’s The Discovery of Heaven, a Philharmonic co-commission, led by Sir Andrew Davis; Krzysztof Penderecki’s Concerto grosso with Carter Brey, Alisa Weilerstein, and Daniel Müller-Schott conducted by Charles Dutoit; and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto with Leila Josefowicz, led by the composer. CONTACT!, the Philharmonic’s new-music series, continues as well, expanding its reach through a new partnership with the 92nd Street Y, with chamber concerts at 92YTribeca. Gilbert says: “What makes me really excited is the prospect of bringing together elements from different pursuits, different genres, different areas of culture, and different institutions in New York City.”
The season also includes an exciting new initiative — the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, a 10-day, multi-partner experience created to showcase the latest in international contemporary music. While some of the programming is already set — such as Christopher Rouse’s Fourth Symphony — much of it will be announced closer to the opening of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, affording it unprecedented flexibility. In addition to performances by the Philharmonic, the 10-day festival will include Orchestra of St. Luke’s and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“The ambition of presenting a portrait of what’s happening in contemporary music today is impossibly huge,” says Mr. Gilbert. “There’s no way we could do anything that would even approach being thorough or exhaustive, so we are trying to present pavilions — as the Venice Biennale has pavilions from different countries – with each concert offering a kind of concentrated picture of a certain area, such as a certain artist’s point of view or point of curiosity.”
Another program illustrating the Philharmonic’s tradition of presenting music of its time celebrates the bicentennial of Britain’s Royal Philharmonic Society. The Society, along with BBC Radio 3 and the New York Philharmonic, has co-commissioned Mark- Anthony Turnage’s Frieze, which will receive its U.S. Premiere before the Orchestra’s performance of the work that inspired it, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1817). Led by Mr. Gilbert, the concert and accompanying events highlight the Philharmonic’s historic link to Beethoven’s masterpiece: The New York Philharmonic presented the Ninth’s U.S. Premiere in 1846, and also commissioned the first English translation of “Ode to Joy.”
And last — but certainly not least — the Phil- harmonic will say farewell to its longest-serving concertmaster, Glenn Dicterow, who began his tenure in 1980. Dicterow will perform some favorite concertmaster solos (including Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and Don Juan, led by Alan Gilbert, and Ein Heldenleben with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 with Andrey Boreyko); give a chamber recital with Philharmonic friends; and perform the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Yefim Bronfman and Carter Brey.
“Glenn Dicterow is a legend,” says Gil- bert. “When I travel around the world, every- body speaks of him in the most glowing, exalted terms. He is one of the great concertmasters, and he’s part of the reason the New York Philharmonic is as great as it is.”
These programs are only some of next year’s offerings. From conducting debuts to seasoned guest soloists; from pre-season film music performances (a Hitchcock celebration and 2001: A Space Odyssey) to New Year’s Eve with humorists Igudesman & Joo; from Britten’s centennial to Mozart’s final three symphonies — the upcoming season comprises a wonderful range of programming that reflects the Philharmonic’s evolving redefinition of what it is to be an orchestra today.
Karissa Krenz is an arts and entertainment writer and producer.
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