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What’s New

Oh, the Places They’re Going!

Shanghai Orchestra Academy New York Philharmonic Global Academy 

The first class of instrumentalists in the Shanghai Orchestra Academy (SOA) graduated in July, and all of them have found jobs at important orchestras and opera companies.

The class of 2014 (the year they entered) successes include violinist Jing Wang and violist Yaorong Huang, who have joined the Shanghai Opera House orchestra; bassist Siyuan Qu and bassoonist Min Cheng, who have become members of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (the latter as associate principal bassoon); and Tianhao Yao, who was appointed principal trumpet of the Hangzhou Philharmonic.

What's more, half of the class that entered in 2015 have already won positions: oboist Difan Yang has joined the Shanghai Opera House orchestra; trumpet player Yuchi Gao joined the Shanghai Symphony, and trombonist Yishan Xie and tuba player Xianguan Mu have joined the Ningbo Symphony Orchestra.

The SOA was established as part of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Residency Partnership — a joint endeavor of the Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Shanghai Conservatory of Music, presented by Starr International Foundation — which was established to cultivate the next generation of orchestra musicians, with instruction from Philharmonic musicians and others.

Congratulations, all!

(Photo: Chris Lee)

The New World Initiative Events in December

 

It’s December, but this year New York City rings with more than sleigh bells and carols. Dvořák abounds, thanks to The New World Initiative, a centerpiece of our 175th season celebration, which offers New Yorkers the chance to connect with each other through a wide variety of performances of Dvořák’s New World Symphony, a work associated with the Orchestra since its premiere and so a piece of the city’s cultural history.

We kicked it off in September, with our Opening Gala Concert (you can see it here). Now, four other NYC–based groups are performing excerpts, especially “Goin’ Home,” based on the memorable English horn melody heard in the sympho­ny’s Largo.

On December 4 the Greenwich Village Orchestra’s autism-friendly Annual Family Concert features an audience sing-along of “Goin’ Home.”

Head to Brooklyn on December 6 and 9 for the Borough of Manhattan Community College Select Chorus’s premier­e of an original choral piece based on it, written by Eun Ho Kim, its composer-in-residence.

On December 10 Corona Youth Music Project is performing an arrangement of the symphony’s 4th movement.

And on the 15th the middle- and upper-school choirs, orchestras, and jazz ensem­bles of the Berkeley Carroll School will perform “Goin’ Home” in the school’s win­ter concert.

Check out these and future events, as well as videos of the NWI performances to date, at newworldinitiative.com.

On the Cover: Ethan Bensdorf

“It’s my goal every year to win the Best Supporting Actor award.” — Ethan Bensdorf

Ethan Bensdorf, December’s On the Cover musician, has developed a niche skill set as a section trumpet player at the Philharmonic, often playing second trumpet. The Principal Trumpet communicates his approach to entrances and style, and it’s Ethan’s job to adjust and respond quickly and be a rock-solid support for the Principal Trumpet. The trumpet section operates as a tight team, coordinating between themselves, within the brass section, and ultimately within the Orchestra. Watch the video Q&A above for more about Ethan and his role in the Philharmonic’s legendary brass section.

(If you’re a trumpet player or friends with one, you may recognize the opening music: the second etude of Theo Charlier’s 36 Transcendental Etudes “Du Style.”)

One of the most beloved Philharmonic traditions is the annual Holiday Brass concert, in which Ethan will be performing December 18. He will also be sharing behind-the-scenes Philharmonic photos on Instagram this month.

Next month we feature flutist and solo piccolo player Mindy Kaufman.

Learn more about Ethan Bensdorf.

New World Symphony Manuscript Parts Now Available in Digital Archives

NY Philharmonic Dvorak

On December 16, 1893, the New York Philharmonic gave the World Premiere of Dvořák's New World Symphony.

Here's another first: for the first time ever, you can see the manuscript parts used at the premiere, a 1917 recording of the Largo, an early first-edition marked score, the program from the premiere, and business documents relating to the premiere and Dvořák. They're just a click away, in the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

It's all part of the Philharmonic's Dohnányi / Dvořák: A Philharmonic Festival, December 4–13, 2014, which culminates in performances of the New World Symphony, December 11–13, led by legendary conductor and Dvořák interpreter Christoph von Dohnányi.  

The notes and markings — in different colored pencils, some erased but legible — illuminate the rehearsal and revision process leading up to the World Premiere. The Philharmonic used the parts in subsequent performances until 1931, and markings reflect interpretive decisions from these performances as well.

The New York Times did a cool slideshow. Check it out:

 

Louis Andriessen Receives Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic

The audience at last night’s concert witnessed an exciting announcement from the stage: Louis Andriessen has been awarded The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic, one of the world's largest new-music prizes, which recognizes a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music. President Matthew VanBesien presented the award (see above). He is the third recipient, after Henri Dutilleux and Per Nørgård.

The Dutch composer and influential teacher — whose influences and subjects span visual art, medieval poetic visions, shipbuilding, atomic theory, mortality, music and politics, and time and velocity — receives $200,000 plus a commission to write a work for the Philharmonic, which the Orchestra will premiere in the 2018–19 season, led by Jaap van Zweden, who will then be in his first season as Philharmonic Music Director.

“It is an immense honor to receive The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music, and I send my deep and solemn feelings of gratitude,” Mr. Andriessen said. “My father, the composer Hendrik Andriessen, used to say: ‘We are not important; the music is important, and we have the duty to write as well as we can.’ It is in this spirit that I will write for the New York Philharmonic.”

 
 

 

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Jaap van Zweden Conducts: A Glimpse of the Future

Philharmonic audiences got a glimpse of the future when Jaap van Zweden (who will become Music Director in the 2018–19 season, after serving as Music Director Designate 2017–18), led the New York Premiere–Philharmonic Co-Commission of 28-year-old Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release, with Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps as soloist, plus Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin.

The crowd and the critics went wild. Here are some highlights:

“Mr. van Zweden drew sensitive, confident and colorful playing from the Philharmonic. ... he drew out the shifting strands of the music with striking clarity and a clear sense of direction. … He balanced poignancy and gravity in his rich-textured account of [Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release].” — The New York Times

“His rapport with the players is already keenly palpable and, in the Tchaikovsky warhorse on the program’s second half, positively electrifying. … an epic journey, precision engineered to underscore the vitality of Tchaikovsky’s vision.” — Musical America

“A superb technician with crystalline intentions, van Zweden seemed most at home laying down a covering barrage of brass or catapulting into a big crescendo. But the New York premiere of Julia Adolphe’s viola concerto Unearth, Release also proved that he’s no slouch with a glimmering pianissimo or a complex new score. … In Wagner’s Lohengrin overture, he coaxed the strings to unspool the endless melody as in a single, ten-minute exhalation.” — Vulture

“An intelligent but emotional, sonically rich performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony” — New York Classical Review

“Both musicians and audience seemed galvanized by his presence throughout all three pieces.” — Bachtrack

Watch Dvořák’s New World Symphony from Opening Gala Concert

The performance above (on September 21, 2016) launched the New York Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, Music Director Alan Gilbert’s farewell season, and The New World Initiative — our season-long, city-wide project revolving around Dvořák’s New World Symphony and its theme of “home” through performances, community outreach, and education projects.

All three are unfolding with the same passion captured in this video, which you can watch all season long. The New World Initiative continues to grow, with 105 ensembles and soloists from all five boroughs and the greater New York City area participating through performances and reinterpretations of the New World Symphony. The New York Philharmonic provides them with free tickets to Open Rehearsals, access to a traveling archival exhibit, and access to arrangements, scores, and sheet music bowed by Philharmonic musicians and conductors.

This past Tuesday the New York Philharmonic Education team partnered with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to put on a Professional Development workshop for more than 400 DOE music teachers. Instrumental teachers got to perform from copies of the Philharmonic’s 1893 Dvořák parts, and choral teachers sang “Goin’ Home,” the song adapted from the symphony’s Adagio.

Check the New World Initiative website for the latest news, additions, and performances!

On the Cover: Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps

“Once I [got] a viola it was clear that it was an instrument that really spoke to me. I felt that I could draw a sound out that I really loved.” — Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps

Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, November’s On the Cover musician, has an important job within the Orchestra. She not only draws out a velvety sound on all the big viola solos in the symphonic repertoire, she also elicits a unified sound from the viola section. To do that, she works behind the scenes — deciding on bowings, liaising with the conductor — and leads the section to keep everyone together rhythmically and stylistically in real time. Watch her Q&A video above for more!

This month Cynthia Phelps steps out of her Principal seat and into the hot seat — the soloist position. She’ll perform the New York Premiere of Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release, conducted by future Music Director Jaap van Zweden, November 17–19.

Join the conversation: Cynthia will take over the Philharmonic’s Instagram Wednesday, November 16, for the first rehearsal of Julia Adolphe’s new viola concerto. On Tuesday, November 22, we will post Cynthia’s curated playlist to sing along to on your holiday travels. And lastly, on Tuesday, November 29, Cynthia answers your questions on Facebook.

Next month we feature Philharmonic trumpet player Ethan Bensdorf, just in time for the beloved annual Holiday Brass concert!

Learn more about Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps.

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