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WATCH: London Highlights: Young Composers & 'Petrushka'

On April 17–19, 2015, the New York Philharmonic was in residence at London's Barbican Centre, part of the Orchestra's EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, made possible by Exclusive Tour Sponsor Credit Suisse. The activities, reflecting many of the Philharmonic's signature performance and education initiatives, included master classes, works created by Very Young Composers, the Musicjelly interactive experience, puppet building with kids — all culminating in a staged performance of Petrushka, a production by Giants Are Small, in which Music Director Alan Gilbert and the musicians got in on the action. (Video: Chris Lee)

To Europe We'll Go!

In April Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic bring signature programs and projects to the birthplace of symphonic music. Here are some highlights of EUROPE / SPRING 2015: 

  • The first return to Dublin in 19 years; 
  • The Orchestra's second residency as an International Associate of London's Barbican Centre, featuring the Giants Are Small staging of Stravinsky's Petrushka (in which the musicians get into the action);
  • The Orchestra's first time playing in the newly opened Philharmonie in Paris.
  • A performance of highlights from CONTACT!, the new-music series;
  • Cornerstone education projects, including a performance of music by Very Young Composers of New York and London;
  • Performances of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx in London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Cologne; 
  • The World Premiere of Senza sangue, Peter Eötvös’s new opera, co-commissioned by the Philharmonic. 

Check back after April 17 to join the tour virtually through photos and videos on nyphil.org/europespring2015!

Credit Suisse is the Exclusive Tour Sponsor of the New York Philharmonic. 

The EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour is made possible, in part, by contributions from major underwriters Didi and Oscar Schafer, Daria L. and Eric J. Wallach, and the Mary and James G. Wallach Family Foundation, and underwriters Harold Mitchell, AC, Joan and Joel I. Picket, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, and the New York Philharmonic's International Advisory Board.

Future Wave

A Dancer's Dream

"And it was delightful to see the skilled members of the Philharmonic so eagerly embracing the chance to act, stomp and ham it up. At one point in ‘Petrushka,’ the violist Rebecca Young did a little Russian dance, juggling colored handkerchiefs and twirling about exuberantly. Is this the future of the American orchestra? Let’s hope so."

— The New York Times reviews the New York Philharmonic’s production of A Dancer's Dream.

Photo by Chris Lee

PHOTOS: At Today's Dress Rehearsal

We're about an hour away from the first performance of A Dancer's Dream! To get your toes tapping, here's a sneak peek from today's dress rehearsal.

Photos by Chris Lee.

The Price of Being an Artist

Ice Maiden Video Shoot

Opening tonight, A Dancer’s Dream is what director/designer Doug Fitch calls an “über Fairy Tale,” combining Stravinsky’s disparate ballets The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka to create a new narrative.

Here’s the story: a young woman, played by ballerina Sara Mearns, sits entranced at a Philharmonic concert. She is “kissed” by the passion to become an artist and drawn into the performance, dancing to the complete score of The Fairy’s Kiss. By the second act, she has completed her transformation into an artist, becoming Columbine in Petrushka. But becoming an artist has consequences. As Giants Are Small detailed in a production plan, “she loses her ability to have an ordinary life as the demons of ambition and love claim her as their plaything.”

The real Sara Mearns can relate. As she told The New York Times, "It's kind of true that you have this massive dream to be this ballerina, to be out there onstage performing, and you pour everything into it. Then there is a point where you feel like you are trapped in it and cannot get out. And that is the curse.”

Stravinsky meditated on this theme in The Fairy’s Kiss, which he dedicated to Tchaikovsky, an artist who paid this price (“Tchaikovsky’s personal life was a mess,” Mr. Fitch says in the Times). As Stravinsky inscribed in the score: “I dedicate this ballet to the memory of Pyotr Tchaikovsky by relating the Fairy to his Muse, and in this way the ballet becomes an allegory, the Muse having similarly branded Tchaikovsky with her fatal kiss, whose mysterious imprint made itself felt in all this great artist’s work.”

Petrushka, Three Ways

Bernstein Petrushka Score

This week’s performances of A Dancer’s Dream  will bring Stravinsky's Petrushka to the stage in a way that hasn't been seen before at the New York Philharmonic. And that's saying something, as over the years the Orchestra has presented more than 60 performances of the commedia dell’arte fantasy in various incarnations, including an arrangement for four pianos. Three such incarnations sit in the Digital Archives, all marked by Leonard Bernstein to different degrees of thoroughness. You can browse all three here.

Extra! Extra!

New York Times A Dancer's Dream

“It’s kind of true that you have this massive dream to be this ballerina, to be out there onstage performing, and you pour everything into it. Then there is a point where you feel like you are trapped in it and cannot get out. And that is the curse.” — Sara Mearns

Dance writer Gia Kourlas presents a peek behind the curtain of A Dancer's Dream in this past Sunday's New York Times. Sara Mearns, Doug Fitch, and Karole Armitage spoke with Gia about all-things Dream, including the narrative that will tie together Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka.

(Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Deciphering the Dream

Deciphering the Dream

"Tonight, our story unfolds as a kind of über Fairy Tale, connecting two great ballets by Stravinsky,” explains  Doug Fitch,  director/designer of A Dancer's Dream, in a note for Playbill: “The thread that weaves them all together takes the form of a young woman who slips into the world of her own imagination and is swept away by muses to become a ballerina.

"The Fairy’s Kiss is based on a haunting story by Hans Christian Andersen (The Ice Maiden) and was composed by Stravinsky as an homage to Tchaikovsky. Stravinsky saw the ‘kiss’ as a metaphor for the artistic gift — that mysterious, intangible phenomenon that can bestow immortality, but not without extracting its human price. We have merged these into a kind of daydream — a reverie induced by the seductive and transformative power of great music…. She then enters into the world of the Shrovetide Fair-setting of Petrushka and becomes the puppet ballerina character Columbine. Things in this daydream seem to have real consequences and it is hard to distinguish the artifice from the reality it is designed to imitate.

"After its premiere, Stravinsky said that dance is not applied arts — it is a union of arts; they strengthen and complement each other. It is in this spirit of developing a union between artistic media — some old, some new — that we have pursued this project…. We invite you to enter this world with us — to put together the pieces in your own mind and to weave your own stories as you watch and listen. You are very much a part of this collaboration."

(Photo of A Dancer’s Dream rehearsal courtesy of Giants Are Small)

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