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CONTACT! at the Metropolitan Museum

This concert is now past.
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Directions)
Price Range: $17.50

Concert Duration

1 hour 45 minutes
Fri, Apr, 5, 2013
7:00 PM

To purchase tickets to this CONTACT! performance at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, visit or call (212) 570-3949.

Prepare to go where no audience has gone before.

CONTACT! connects you with some of the most interesting, innovative, and engaging music of our time, performed by ensembles of Philharmonic musicians in more intimate and less formal settings. "A dynamic addition to the Philharmonic’s offerings beyond Avery Fisher Hall," writes The New York Times; "listeners of all ages filled the hall."

The 2014-15 Season

Program (Click the red play button to listen)


Vaporized Tivoli

Anders Hillborg gained his first musical experience singing in choirs and was also involved in various forms of improvised music. From 1976 to 1982 he studied counterpoint, composition, and electronic music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where his teachers included Gunnar Bucht, Lars-Erik Rosell, Arne Mellnäs, and Pär Lindgren. Brian Ferneyhough, who was a guest lecturer at the College of Music on several occasions, was also an important influence. Apart from occasional teaching positions, Mr. Hillborg has been a full-time composer since 1982. He composes orchestral, choral, and chamber music, as well as music for films and pop music. Anders Hillborg’s orchestral music has been performed by major conductors, including Alan Gilbert, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, David Zinman, Andrey Boreyko, Yannick Nézet-Seguin, Michael Gielen, Leif Segerstam, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Susanna Mälkki, Hannu Lintu, and John Storgårds. His works have been performed by the Los Angeles, Berlin, Oslo, Royal Stockholm, and Helsinki philharmonic orchestras, and the Chicago, San Francisco, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Bavarian Radio, BBC, Swedish Radio, and Gothenburg symphony orchestras.

Mr. Hillborg has received commissions from the Chicago, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Gothenburg, and Swedish Radio symphony orchestras, and the Los Angeles, Berlin, and Royal Stockholm philharmonic orchestras. The New York Philharmonic joined with Carnegie Hall to co-commission The Strand Settings, a new song cycle to be premiered with soprano Renée Fleming at that historic venue on April 26, 2013. He has worked with clarinetist Martin Fröst, mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, and choir conductor Eric Ericson. Anders Hillborg received the Christ Johnson Prize in 1991 for Celestial Mechanics and in 1997 for his Violin Concerto, the selected at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in 1995. He has served as composer-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. Anders Hillborg has received the Swedish Gramophone for Composer of the Year in 1996 and for Best Classical CD of the Year in 2012 for the album Eleven Gates.

About Vaporized Tivoli

Vaporized Tivoli was written in 2010 on commission from Ensemble Modern, which premiered the work in September of that year in Krakow, Poland. The conductor was Franck Ollu, to whom the piece is dedicated. “In Europe the word tivoli is used in the same way as amusement park, funfair, or Carnival is used in America,” Mr. Hillborg writes. “A main idea for the first part is the image of kids running around in a tivoli with the (for grownups) incredible speed and energy only kids can have, trying out all the marvelous attractions that the tivoli offers. ‘Here’s a rollercoaster, let’s try that! Now for a carousel, wow, and look here, a bunch of junk that we can bang on.’ After about six minutes this ecstatically joyful character suddenly changes. It’s as if a plug is pulled, and all the speed and energy is pouring out into a lush, strangely beautiful and much more ambiguous soundscape. Here a more sinister association to tivoli was lurking in the back of my mind. In my teens I read Ray Bradbury’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, a story combining elements of fantasy and horror about a nightmarish traveling tivoli that comes to town and preys on the people there. Finally, the music literary vaporizes, while accompanying an eerily sentimental melody line played by the double-bass.”


Oboe Concerto

Poul Ruders was born in Ringsted, Denmark, on March 27, 1949. His early studies in piano and organ eventually led to studies in orchestration with Danish composer Karl Aage Rasmussen. Mr. Ruders’s first compositions date from the mid-1960s. About Mr. Ruders, the English critic Stephen Johnson states: “He can be gloriously, explosively extrovert one minute — withdrawn, haunted, intently inward-looking the next. Super-abundant high spirits alternate with pained, almost expressionistic lyricism; simplicity and directness with astringent irony.” Poul Ruders has created a large body of music ranging from opera and orchestral works through chamber, vocal, and solo music. Following the success of his second opera, The Handmaid’s Tale (1996–98), produced in Copenhagen (2000), he received commissions from the Berlin and New York Philharmonic orchestras, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Danish Opera. Recent performances include productions of The Handmaid’s Tale in Toronto and London, the U.S. premiere of his opera Selma Jezková at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2011, and orchestral premieres and performances in Berlin, New York, and London. Poul Ruders’s opera Kafka’s Trial (with a libretto by Paul Bentley) was premiered in March 2005; commissioned by the Royal Danish Opera for the opening of Copenhagen’s new opera house, it explores Kafka’s unfinished masterpiece and dramatizes events from the writer’s life. The Philharmonic has performed Poul Ruders’s works four times: Corpus Cum Figuris, conducted by Oliver Knussen in 1986; Concerto in Pieces, performed by pianist Louis Lortier and conducted by Andrew Davis in  1996; Listening Earth, conducted by David Robertson in 2003; and Final Nightshade, conducted by Lorin Maazel in 2004.

About the Oboe Concerto

Poul Ruders composed his Oboe Concerto in 1998 for Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen and Swedish oboe virtuoso Helén Jahren, to whom it is dedicated. It was commissioned by the Royal Library in Copenhagen for the inauguration of the Queen’s Hall, a new concert hall in the “Black Diamond,” the then-recently completed library annex. It has four movements, which Mr. Ruders has called four “small tone-poems” inspired by the names of four moon craters: Lake of Dreams, Ocean of Storms, Sea of Tranquility, and Lake of Death. “Four enigmatic and deeply fascinating ancient conceptions of the landscape on this our closest, but at the same time, most legendary and myth-shrouded celestial neighbor,” the composer writes. Unlike other concertos, the work “focuses more on the contemplative and sonorously introvert, rather than mere virtuosity.”



Yann Robin began his musical studies in Aix-en-Provence, in his native France. He later enrolled in the jazz class at the National Regional Conservatory in Marseilles and the composition class of Georges Boeuf. He was awarded first prize from the Paris National Conservatory in the composition class of Frédéric Durieux and in the analysis class of Michaël Levinas. He received a grant from the Meyer Foundation, and was awarded a first prize from the Beaux Arts Academy and the Salabert Foundation. In 2011 Sacem (the French counterpart to ASCAP) presented him with the Grand Prix de la Musique Symphonique. In 2005 Mr. Robin co-founded the Multilateral Ensemble and later became its artistic director. From 2006 to 2008 he pursued the two-year curriculum at IRCAM. During the same period he was guest composer with the National Orchestra of Lille. In 2009 and 2010, Mr. Robin was a fellow at the French Academy in Rome, the Villa Médicis, where he launched a contemporary music festival, the Controtempo Festival, which he still programs. In 2013 he will compose a large orchestral piece for the SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg that will be presented at the Musica Festival in Strasbourg. In 2014 he will compose a newly commissioned piece for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Yann Robin’s music is published by Editions Jobert.

About Backdraft

“Sometimes gestures arise in one piece, only really develop and proliferate in a second, and end up fading away and disappearing in a final piece as the material wears itself out, becomes extinguished,” Yann Robin writes of his Backdraft, a New York Philharmonic Co-Commission with the Fundação Casa da Música, Portugal, “at least, when in the course of their progression, these gestures have not been metamorphosed and opened new paths for the imagination, leading to sound. Back (‘returning’ in English) – draft (‘rough sketch’), a piece calling for an ensemble of 17 instrumentalists, is based on this idea of returning, of a gesture that has already been sketched coming (back) to life through a new project, in a new context. Beyond this re-contextualisation of gesture and material, Backdraft follows in the continuity of pieces making metamorphic references to fire, that element often associated with volcanoes (Vulcan’s forge, in ancient mythology), to divine power, or even to hell, frequently represented as the kingdom of eternal flames. Backdraft is also the scientific translation of the ‘explosion of smoke’ that, in volcanology, designates a phenomenon of ignition that can occur due to an injection of external oxygen in a confined atmosphere saturated with unburned gases and graphite particles.”



Unsuk Chin was born in 1961 in Seoul, South Korea, and has lived in Berlin since 1988. Her music has been conducted by Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Robertson, Peter Eötvös, Neeme Järvi, Markus Stenz, Myung-Whun Chung, George Benjamin, Susanna Mälkki, François-Xavier Roth, Leif Segerstam, and Ilan Volkov. Ms. Chin’s honors include the 2004 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for her Violin Concerto, the 2005 Arnold Schoenberg Prize, the 2010 Prince Pierre Foundation Music Award, and the 2012 Ho-Am Prize. She has been commissioned by leading performing organizations and her music has been presented in major festivals and concert series by the Berlin, London, and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras; BBC, Chicago, Philharmonia, Boston, and City of Birmingham symphony orchestras; and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Kronos Quartet, and Arditti Quartet. Active in writing electronic music, Ms. Chin has received commissions from IRCAM and other electronic music studios. In 2007 Ms. Chin’s first opera, Alice in Wonderland, was given its world premiere at the Bavarian Staatsoper to open of the Munich Opera Festival, a performance that was released on DVD by Unitel Classica. Since 2006 Unsuk Chin has overseen the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s contemporary-music series, which she founded. Since 2011 she has served as artistic director of the Music of Today series of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. Portrait CDs of her music have appeared on the Deutsche Grammophon, Kairos, and Analekta labels, and her works are published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes. These performances mark the first time the New York Philharmonic has performed her work.

About Gougalōn

Gougalōn was commissioned by Siemens Arts Program and Ensemble Modern, and premiered in Berlin in 2009. Ensemble Intercontemporain commissioned an expanded version, which was first performed in January 2012 in Paris. According to Unsuk Chin, the title is a word in Old High German that means to hoodwink, make ridiculous movements, fool someone by means of feigned magic, or practice fortune-telling. Growing up in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea, in the 1960s, the composer often saw troupes of entertainers. In a note on the piece translated by Howard Weiner, Ms. Chin writes: “These amateur musicians and actors travelled from village to village in order to foist self-made medicines — which were ineffective at best — on the people. To lure the villagers, they put on a play with singing, dancing, and various stunts. This was all extremely amateurish and kitschy, yet it aroused incredible emotions among the spectators: this is hardly surprising, considering that it was practically the only entertainment in an everyday life marked by poverty and repressive structures.” These memories provided a loose framework for the composition, which is divided into six movements with titles such as Dramatic Opening of the Curtain and The Grinning Fortune Teller with the False Teeth. “This piece is about an ‘imaginary folk music’ that is stylized, broken within itself, and only apparently primitive,” Unsuk Chin writes. 



Alan Gilbert

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009. The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he has sought to make the Orchestra a point of pride for the city and country. As New York magazine wrote, “The Philharmonic and its music director Alan Gilbert have turned themselves into a force of permanent revolution.”

Mr. Gilbert and the Philharmonic have forged artistic partnerships, introducing the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, held in the 2014–15 season by Christopher Rouse and violinist Lisa Batiashvili, respectively, as well as the new position of Artist-in-Association, inaugurated by Inon Barnatan this season; an annual festival, which this season is Dohnányi / Dvořák; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers inaugurated in spring 2014.

In the 2014–15 season Alan Gilbert conducts the U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Clarinet Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission, alongside Mahler’s First Symphony; La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema with Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, and Josh Groban; Verdi’s Requiem; a staging of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard; World Premieres by John Adams, Peter Eötvös, and Christopher Rouse; works by contemporary Nordic composers during CONTACT!; and the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma’s 15th-anniversary celebration. He concludes The Nielsen Project, the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012. The Music Director presides over the EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour with stops including London, featuring Giants Are Small’s theatrical reimagining of Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka as part of the Orchestra’s second International Associate residency at the Barbican Centre; Cologne, where he leads the World Premiere of Peter Eötvös’s Senza sangue, a Philharmonic co-commission; and returns to Dublin and Paris.

Last season’s highlights included the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL; Mozart’s three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze coupled with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; World Premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer’s centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film was screened; the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour; and a staged production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. High points of Mr. Gilbert’s first four Philharmonic seasons included the critically celebrated productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2011) — both cited as the top cultural events of their respective years — as well as Philharmonic 360 at Park Avenue Armory (2012), the acclaimed spatial music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen, and A Dancer’s Dream: Two Ballets by Stravinsky (2013, and later presented in movie theaters internationally). Other highlights included World Premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, and composers featured on CONTACT!; Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection, on A Concert for New York on September 10; Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic debut as violin soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; five concerts at Carnegie Hall; six tours to Europe; and the Asia Horizons tour.

Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras nationally and internationally, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestra della Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has appeared at The Metropolitan, Los Angeles, Zurich, Royal Swedish, and Santa Fe opera companies. In 2014–15 he conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra’s season-opening concerts and on tour in Lucerne, Berlin, and London; Mozart’s Don Giovanni at The Metropolitan Opera; and The Philadelphia, Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and NDR Symphony orchestras.

In September 2011 Alan Gilbert became Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he is also the first holder of Juilliard’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 leading John Adams’s Doctor Atomic; the DVD and Blu-ray of this production received the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Renée Fleming’s recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. Earlier releases garnered Grammy Award nominations and top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine.

Mr. Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard and was assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra (1995–97). In May 2010 he received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Curtis, and in December 2011 he received Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award for his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music.” In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Visit Alan Gilbert's Official Website

Learn more about Alan Gilbert



Liang Wang

Liang Wang joined the New York Philharmonic in September 2006 as Principal Oboe. Previously, he was principal oboe of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (2005–06), and principal oboe of the Santa Fe Opera in the 2004–05 season.

Born in Qing Dao, China, in 1980, Mr. Wang comes from a musical family. His mother was an amateur singer; his uncle was a professional oboist, and Mr. Wang began oboe studies with him at the age of seven. In 1993 he enrolled at the Beijing Central Conservatory, and two years later attended Idyllwild Arts Academy in California. During his time there he was the Jack Smith Award Winner at the Pasadena Instrumental Competition, a two-time winner of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Fellowship, and a winner at the Spotlight Competition of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Liang Wang made his Carnegie Hall debut in April 2011 performing Chen Qigang’s Extase, and he was invited by the Presidents of China and France to perform the work with the Orchestre Colonne de France at Versailles’s Royal Opera House in March 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of France-China diplomacy. Other recent appearances include Mozart’s Oboe Concerto with Les Violons du Roy, led by Bernard Labadie, in Quebec City; Mozart and Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concertos on tour with all of China’s major symphony orchestras; and J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Mr. Wang completed his bachelor’s degree in 2003 at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Philadelphia Orchestra principal oboist Richard Woodhams. While at Curtis, he was a fellowship recipient at both the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he studied with John de Lancie, the former Principal Oboist of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Wang was a prize winner at the 2003 Fernard Gillet International Oboe Competition.

Since graduating from Curtis, Mr. Wang has served as principal oboe with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and associate principal oboe of the San Francisco Symphony; he was also a guest principal oboist with the Chicago and San Francisco symphony orchestras. An active chamber musician, he has appeared with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Angel Fire Music Festival, and he has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto. He has given master classes at the Cincinnati Conservatory, The Juilliard School, Mannes, and The Curtis Institute of Music; was on the oboe faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, is currently on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and New York University, and is an honorary professor at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music and the Shanghai Conservatory.

Learn more about Liang Wang



John Schaefer is the host of WNYC’s innovative music/talk show Soundcheck, which features live performances and interviews with a variety of guests. Mr. Schaefer has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (called “The #1 radio show for the Global Village” by Billboard) and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986. He has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990); the Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2000); and the television program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo Television, 2003). His liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from the 1996 NAIRD winner The Music of Armenia to releases by Yo-Yo Ma, Terry Riley, and many others.

Mr. Schaefer has curated the new-music and film series at the World Financial Center and the BAM World Music Festival. He has also chaired the Pulitzer Prize jury for Music and hosted many lectures and panels for Lincoln Center, BAM, and Tanglewood’s Contemporary Music Festival, among others.

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Special Thanks

CONTACT! is made possible with major support from The Francis Goelet Fund and The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Unsuk Chin's appearance with the New York Philharmonic is made possible through the Claudette Sorel Performance Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by The Amphion Foundation, Inc., and The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. The April performances are supported in part by The French American Fund for Contemporary Music.


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