Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic: 175th Season Begins September 21

Mike Lawson • News • August 22, 2016

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Music Director Alan Gilbert opens the New York Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, which also marks his farewell season as Music Director, with three programs featuring Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World — the Philharmonic’s first World Premiere of a work written in New York that would become part of the standard repertoire — alongside a New York Premiere, a Philharmonic debut, and other works and soloists closely tied to the Orchestra.

The Opening Gala Concert, Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., features a program honoring the Philharmonic’s legacy of premiering important works, particularly music connected to New York City: the New York Premiere of John Corigliano’s Stomp for Orchestra;Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World; andGershwin’s Concerto in F, with jazz pianistAaron Diehl as soloist in his Philharmonic debut. In the season’s first subscription program, Mr. Gilbert will conduct Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Lisa Batiashvili, former Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, as soloist,Thursday, September 22, 2016, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, September 23 at 2:00 p.m.; and Saturday, September 24 at 8:00 p.m. Stomp and Dvořák’sNew World Symphony will again be performed on the program Tuesday, September 27, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., which also features Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with Principal Clarinet Anthony McGillas soloist.

The 2016–17 Opening Gala Concert will mark the Philharmonic’s 370th performance of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World, which the Orchestra premiered in December 1893, led by Anton Seidl at Carnegie Hall. The season-opening performances of the New World Symphony launch The New World Initiative, a season-long, citywide project revolving around the work and its connection to the theme of “home” through performances, education projects, and community outreach on the occasion of the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, honoring the Orchestra’s hometown and its role as an adopted home. Dvořák wrote the symphony in New York City while living here, and the famous Largo theme was later set to the words “Goin’ Home” by Dvořák’s student William Arms Fisher. 2016 also marks Dvořák’s 175th birthday year. In addition to the three season-opening programs, the Orchestra will also perform the work on a Young People’s Concert, Young People’s Concerts for Schools, and the free New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer. Additional The New World Initiative details and activities will be announced.

The Philharmonic has performed more than a dozen works by Pulitzer Prize winner and native New Yorker John Corigliano — whose father, John Corigliano, Sr., served as the Orchestra’s Concertmaster from 1943 to 1966 — including commissioning and premiering his Clarinet Concerto (1977), Fantasia on an Ostinato (1986),Vocalise for Soprano, Electronics, and Orchestra (1999), and One Sweet Morning (2011). Stomp was originally written for solo violin for the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition. The composer writes: “I asked the players to tap or stomp on certain beats. This was because Stomp is actually ‘fiddle music’ — country music, bluegrass, and jazz combined, and the original players of this music often stomp to the rhythm. … In adapting Stomp for orchestra … I could not give up the tapping and stomping.”

Walter Damrosch commissioned Brooklynite Gershwin’s Concerto in F for the New York Symphony (one of the forebears of today’s New York Philharmonic), which gave the work’s World Premiere in December 1925, led by Damrosch, with Gershwin as piano soloist. The work built on the 1920s exploration of jazz as an intrinsically American element in classical composition, also manifest in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928, which the Philharmonic also premiered). The Orchestra has performed the Concerto in F 93 times to date, collaborating not only with the composer (for a total of 9 performances) and the respected Gershwin interpreter Oscar Levant (16 performances), but also with eminent pianists including Earl Wild and those known for jazz-classical fusion, such as Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

“It’s unbelievable that the Orchestra has played premieres of pieces that have now become mainstays of the repertoire,” said Music Director Alan Gilbert. “These pieces are so popular that you can take them for granted — but if you realize it’s the New York Philharmonic that brought that piece into being, it becomes a very important message. There is a sense of discovery and freshness, which is exactly the kind of spirit that I live for. John Corigliano is one of the great composers, and his connections to the New York Philharmonic are very deep. He grew up around the Orchestra, as I did, and I love that he’s still part of the family and is as vital and creative as ever.”

Aaron Diehl said of the Gershwin work he is performing: “The Concerto in F is recognized for its strengths in possessing the orchestration and form of a symphonic work, all while maintaining the feeling of a jazz orchestra. My goal in playing with the New York Philharmonic is to provide a perspective of Gershwin’s music that is rooted in the American vernacular of syncopation and swing.”


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