Alan Gilbert’s spring 2010

ilbert’s first season as Music Director reaches another milestone in May when he leads the orchestra in Ligeti’s landmark opera, Le Grand Macabre (May 27-29, with an open rehearsal on the morning of May 26). The Ligeti performances, designed and directed by Douglas Fitch, mark the first time this seminal work has been staged in New York.

Gilbert’s concert with the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall features a wide-ranging program that spans chronologically from Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, “Prague” and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, to Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16 and Ligeti’s Atmosphères. Gilbert, a Juilliard alumnus, is the first holder of the school’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies, a position he undertook this season, which involves him in a variety of teaching, coaching, and performing activities throughout the year. In fall 2008 Gilbert led the orchestra in a concert of music by Beethoven and Bernstein, part of the citywide festival Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds. The Philharmonic presented the festival in collaboration with Carnegie Hall in honor of the late legendary composer/conductor’s 50th anniversary as Music Director and the 90th of his birth. Gilbert remarked about the upcoming concert with Juilliard, “The first few rehearsals were extremely promising, and it’s always a thrill to take young musicians through the journey of discovering masterpieces for the first time.”

The second installment of the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! series follows, with Gilbert leading the orchestra in three world-premiere works commissioned by the orchestra. The concerts at Symphony Space (April 16) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (April 17) feature Gilbert conducting Sean Shepherd’s These Particular Circumstances, Nico Muhly’s Detailed Instructions, and Matthias Pintscher’s songs from Solomon’s garden. Scored for baritone and orchestra, this last is a co-commission with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, featuring baritone Thomas Hampson, who is also the Philharmonic’s first Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. Gilbert observed, “The composers have come up with really fascinating music, and people who come will hear three completely different sound-worlds played brilliantly by the spectacular musicians of the New York Philharmonic.”

In May, Gilbert’s concerts with the orchestra will focus on Le Grand Macabre, an opera by Hungarian composer György Ligeti. Though one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas, Ligeti’s masterpiece has, remarkably, never before been performed in New York. The staged performances at Avery Fisher Hall will feature designs and direction by Douglas Fitch, a genre-crossing artist who has collaborated with Gilbert on a number of projects including staged operas at Santa Fe Opera and Los Angeles Opera. Gilbert observes, “I think Doug’s plans for this opera are perfect for this piece. I think it’s going to be an absolutely compelling rendition of this landmark of 20th-century opera.”

Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in additional programs later this spring and in the first days of summer, including the Free Annual Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (May 31); an appearance as violist in Brahms’s Sextet with musicians from the New York Philharmonic (June 12); and season-ending performances of Beethoven’s monumental Missa Solemnis, paired with the world premiere of a new work by Magnus Lindberg – the orchestra’s Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence – commissioned by the New York Philharmonic (June 23-26).

In the meantime, listeners around the world have the opportunity to hear Gilbert and the Orchestra in four new recordings available for download at several online retailers, including iTunes, which has featured these recordings in an ongoing series of New York Philharmonic downloads available through a special season pass. The four individual releases include Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 3 (recorded in September); a program of contrasting Russian works by Rachmaninoff (Symphony No. 2) and Prokofiev (Piano Concerto No. 2, with soloist Yefim Bronfman); a tragedy-infused program comprising Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 in F minor, “La passione”, John Adams’s The Wound-Dresser, featuring soloist Thomas Hampson, Schubert’s Symphony in B minor, “Unfinished”, and Berg’s Three Orchestral Pieces; and an all-American New Year’s Eve, recorded live on December 31, 2009, and featuring music by Copland (Suite from Appalachian Spring and selections from Old American Songs, with Hampson), selections from Cole Porter’s musicals (also with Hampson), and Gershwin’s An American in Paris.

A list of Alan Gilbert’s spring 2010 engagements follows.

Alan Gilbert – spring 2010

April 16

CONTACT! series with New York Philharmonic

Symphony Space (New York, NY)

Shepherd: These Particular Circumstances

Muhly: Detailed Instructions

Pintscher: songs from Solomon’s garden (Thomas Hampson, baritone)

April 17

CONTACT! series with New York Philharmonic

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)

Program as above

May 19-21

New York Philharmonic School Day Concerts (not open to the public)

Avery Fisher Hall (New York, NY)

Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1947): character and setting in music

Suite of works created by students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program

May 27-29

Ligeti: Le Grand Macabre

New York Philharmonic

Avery Fisher Hall (New York, NY)

Douglas Fitch, director and designer

Edouard Getaz, producer

Production created by Giants Are Small

May 31

New York Philharmonic

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (New York, NY)

Free Annual Memorial Day Concert

Program tba

June 10, 11, & 15

New York Philharmonic

Avery Fisher Hall (New York, NY)

Lindberg: Arena

Sibelius: Violin Concerto (Lisa Batiashvili, violin)

Brahms: Symphony No. 2

June 12

New York Philharmonic

Avery Fisher Hall (New York, NY)

Brahms: String Sextet No. 2 (Sheryl Staples, violin; Lisa Kim, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Alan Gilbert, viola;

Carter Brey, cello; Eileen Moon, cello)

Brahms: Symphony No. 2

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