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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

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.

PHOTOS: The Return to Vail

The Philharmonic has traded New York for cooler climes: the Bravo! Vail festival in the heart of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. The Orchestra has already performed three concerts there, and made time for workshops with Very Young Composers of Vail. Check out photos from the residency thus far.

Photos by Zach Mahone Photography.

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