Best of 2016

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the New York Philharmonic 

We’re excited to have ranked on many best-of 2016 lists, and are proud of the company we’re in.

The New York Times called out the “ecstatic and mystical account” of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie led by Composer-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen; the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL performances, demonstrating “the vision and stamina Mr. Gilbert has brought to the Philharmonic”; and Brahms’s A German Requiem with Christoph von Dohnányi.

The New Yorker applauded Circle Map, featuring Salonen leading the Orchestra in works by Kaija Saariaho, presented by Park Avenue Armory, and the World Premiere of Ashley Fure’s Bound to the Bow, performed by the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra during the NY PHIL BIENNIAL.

NPR Classical ranked the Philharmonic’s Grammy-nominated album of music by former Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse among the “ten classical albums that saved 2016” — saying “there's unbridled splendor in hearing what a modern orchestra, revving on all cylinders, is capable of. Alan Gilbert inspires arresting detail and energy from the New York Philharmonic” — and NPR Music included the Rouse CD in its list of 2016’s top 50 albums.

WQXR’s list of 2016 new-music revelations said that “nothing should be taken for granted about the sustained scope of New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert’s commitment to new music.... New classical music has never seemed more at home.... With two Biennials, CONTACT! new-music shows, composers-in-residence, ambitious multidisciplinary statements like the New York premiere of György Ligeti's opera Le Grand Macabre, Gilbert is leaving a legacy as bold in vision as methodical and inevitable in execution.”

We also made the cut for Musical America, Superconductor, and New York Classical Review.

Here’s to another great year of music-making!

(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

2017 Zarin Mehta Fellows from Music Academy of the West Named

New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program

Ten students from Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West have been selected to participate in the third year of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program as Zarin Mehta Fellows in January 2017.

They will travel to New York for a ten-day training program, including rehearsing and playing alongside Philharmonic musicians in Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 for the subscription concerts January 11–14, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert.

Described by Gilbert as “a window into the real life of the orchestral musician,” the Fellowship allows students to learn directly from Philharmonic musicians, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will immerse them in all aspects of an orchestral player’s life, from audition to performance.

The lucky ten: Kevin Chen, violin; Minji Choi, cello; Michael Daley, percussion; Kaelan Decman, double bass; Ao Peng, viola; Emily Switzer, violin; Alexander Volkov, violin; Jack Walters, clarinet; Justin Woo, violin; and Hyeree Yu, viola. 2016 Global Academy Fellow Rainer Saville, trumpet, deferred his participation and will be joining the Global Academy in 2017.

Congratulations, and see you in New York!

(Photo: Music Academy of the West)

In Columbia Teachers College Keynote, Wiprud Advocates Cultural Institutions' Educational Role

On Saturday the New York Philharmonic's Vice President of Education, and host of the Philharmonic's famed Young People's Concerts since 2005, Theodore Wiprud received the Medal of Excellence from Columbia University Teachers College, also giving the keynote address at Academic Festival 2016, Teachers College’s annual homecoming event.

Ted made a case for the role cultural institutions like the New York Philharmonic play in education, both as partners with schools and through families and professional training. He also advocated children’s innate creativity — expressed powerfully through the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers — as an asset for teaching and learning.

Watch the address above.

Van Zweden 'Almost Miraculous' in New Mahler 3 Recording

Jaap van Zweden New York Philharmonic

A new recording shows that the next Music Director of “Mahler’s orchestra” has a fine way with Mahler’s music.

"The best thing I’ve heard from van Zweden, and I’ve heard a lot of incredible performances under his baton," wrote Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News, reviewing Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Mahler 3 recording, which came out on Friday.

Cantrell wrote:

His way of sustaining and inflecting the music over great stretches is almost miraculous. The caressing of phrases in the finale more than lives up to Mahler’s marking, “with heartfelt sensation”; I can’t think of another living conductor who could work such magic. No wonder van Zweden has been tapped as the next music director of the New York Philharmonic.

One performer on the recording is someone van Zweden will see often when he comes to New York. “You’ll never hear the [opening] movement’s great trombone solos more gorgeously played than by [Principal Trombone] Joseph Alessi, on loan from the New York Philharmonic,” Cantrell wrote.

Recorded live during performances on May 14–16, 2015, at Dallas’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the recording is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Springing Ahead to the Next NY PHIL BIENNIAL

National Sawdust NY PHIL BIENNIAL NY Philharmonic

We know it’s still February, but spring is on the horizon, and with it The New York Times Spring Preview, which has made it clear that thoughts are already on the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL. As the Times says:

“Few of Alan Gilbert’s initiatives as the New York Philharmonic’s music director have been as ambitious, and as successful, as the NY Phil Biennial. It’s not just an extended immersion in contemporary music — that would be admirable enough — but also an endeavor that connects the orchestra with a range of spaces and cooperating organizations. … The emphasis on youthful performers during the biennial is heartening. … It all promises to be a welcome burst of energy.”

Check out the full piece here, and stay tuned for NY PHIL BIENNIAL updates.

Jaap van Zweden Named Next Music Director of New York Philharmonic

New York Philharmonic

We are pleased to announce that conductor Jaap van Zweden will become the next Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, beginning in 2018–19, the Orchestra’s 177th season. He will serve as Music Director Designate in the 2017–18 season.

As the New York Philharmonic’s 26th Music Director, Mr. van Zweden — currently Music Director of both the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra — will succeed Alan Gilbert, whose tenure began in 2009 and culminates in the 2016–17 season.

“This is one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my life,” said Jaap van Zweden. “To be asked by the great musicians of the New York Philharmonic and by the Board of this iconic institution to be its Music Director is truly an honor. As musicians, we strive to achieve the best for our audiences in sharing the music of so many gifted composers of the past and present as we look to the future. My heart is full, and my family and I look forward to being true New Yorkers, as I was during my Juilliard days.”

As Music Director Designate in the 2017–18 season, Jaap van Zweden will conduct several weeks of concerts. As Music Director beginning in 2018–19, he will conduct the Orchestra for 12 weeks each year in addition to tours and residencies.

Acclaimed for superb performances and orchestra-building in Dallas and around the world, Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden was appointed at age 19 as the youngest-ever concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and began his conducting career 20 years later in 1995. It was upon the encouragement of Philharmonic Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein, during a rehearsal of Mahler’s First Symphony there, that he first took up the baton. His appointment as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic will be a homecoming for Mr. van Zweden, who was trained as a violinist at The Juilliard School.

Learn more about Jaap van Zweden.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Pierre Boulez in Pictures

The New York Philharmonic deeply mourns the passing of Pierre Boulez, our bold and innovative Music Director from 1971 to 1977 as well as a trailblazing composer and thinker.

The Philharmonic will dedicate its concerts taking place this week, January 7–9 and 12, featuring works by Sibelius, Richard Strauss, and Wagner and conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, to Boulez.

We invite you to remember Mr. Boulez through music and through this slideshow of his time at the New York Philharmonic.