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Etienne Charles – San Juan Hill: A New York Story

Oct 08

The anticipated reopening of David Geffen Hall kicks off with a pair of concerts featuring Etienne Charles’s new work, San Juan Hill: A New York Story — performed by Etienne Charles & Creole Soul and the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden. This immersive multimedia work transports the audience via music, visuals, and original first-person accounts of the history of the San Juan Hill neighborhood and the Indigenous and immigrant communities that populated the land on which Lincoln Center resides.

Tickets are available on a Choose-What-You-Pay basis, starting at $5 per ticket.

In addition, a limited number of free tickets will be available the day of the performances at the Welcome Center at David Geffen Hall.

Co-presented by Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic
Commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Etienne Charles – San Juan Hill: A New York Story


2:00 PM





8:00 PM




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Wu Tsai Theater, David Geffen Hall


1 Hour 15 Minutes
No Intermission



Program Notes

Etienne Charles

San Juan Hill: A New York Story (World Premiere–Lincoln Center Commission)


  • Jaap van Zweden


    Jaap van Zweden began his tenure as the 26th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in September 2018. He also serves as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012, and becomes Music Director of the Seoul Philharmonic in 2024. He has conducted orchestras on three continents, appearing as guest with, in Europe, the Orchestre de Paris, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra, and, in the United States, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and other distinguished ensembles.

    In 2023–24, Jaap van Zweden’s New York Philharmonic farewell season will celebrate his connection with the Orchestra’s musicians as he leads performances in which six Principal players appear as concerto soloists. He also revisits the oeuvres of composers he has championed at the Philharmonic, ranging from Steve Reich and Joel Thompson to Mozart, conducting the Requiem, and Mahler, leading the Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. By the conclusion of his Philharmonic tenure, which has included the reopening of the transformed David Geffen Hall, he will have led the Orchestra in World, US, and New York Premieres of 31 works. Among them are pieces commissioned through Project 19 — which marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment with new works by 19 women composers, among them Tania León’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Stride. During the 2021–22 season, when David Geffen Hall was closed for renovation, he conducted the Orchestra at other New York City venues — including his first-ever Philharmonic appearances at Carnegie Hall — and in the residency at the Usedom Music Festival, where the New York Philharmonic was the first American orchestra to perform abroad since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Jaap van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic inaugurated the new David Geffen Hall in October 2022 with HOME, a monthlong housewarming for the Orchestra and its audiences. Other 2022–23 season highlights include SPIRIT, a musical expression of the trials and triumphs of the human spirit featuring performances of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie and J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and EARTH, a response to the climate crisis that includes Julia Wolfe’s unEarth and John Luther Adams’s Become Desert. Over the course of David Geffen Hall’s inaugural season, he is conducting repertoire ranging from Beethoven and Bruckner to premieres by Marcos Balter, Etienne Charles, Caroline Shaw, and Carlos Simon, in addition to the works by Wolfe and Adams.

    Jaap van Zweden’s New York Philharmonic recordings include the World Premiere of David Lang’s prisoner of the state (2020), and Wolfe’s Grammy-nominated Fire in my mouth (2019), both released on the Decca Gold label. He conducted the Hong Kong Philharmonic in first-ever performances in Hong Kong of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, released on the Naxos label. His acclaimed performances of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal — the last of which earned him the prestigious Edison Award for Best Opera Recording in 2012 — are available on CD and DVD.

    Born in Amsterdam, Jaap van Zweden, at age 19, was appointed the youngest-ever concertmaster of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and began his conducting career almost 20 years later, in 1996. In April 2023, van Zweden receives the Concertgebouw Prize, for exceptional contributions to that organization’s artistic profile. He remains Conductor Emeritus of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, where he was Chief Conductor (2005–13); he also served as Chief Conductor of the Royal Flanders Orchestra (2008–11), and as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (2008–18). Under his leadership, the Hong Kong Philharmonic was named Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year in 2019. He was named Musical America’s 2012 Conductor of the Year and was the subject of an October 2018 CBS 60 Minutes profile on the occasion of his arrival at the New York Philharmonic.

    In 1997 Jaap van Zweden and his wife, Aaltje, established the Papageno Foundation to support families of children with autism. The Foundation has grown into a multifaceted organization that focuses on the development of children and young adults with autism. The Foundation provides in-home music therapy through a national network of qualified music therapists in the Netherlands; opened the Papageno House in 2015 (with Her Majesty Queen Maxima in attendance) for young adults with autism to live, work, and participate in the community; created a research center at the Papageno House for early diagnosis and treatment of autism and for analyzing the effects of music therapy on autism; develops funding opportunities to support autism programs; and, more recently, launched the app TEAMPapageno, which allows children with autism to communicate with each other through music composition.

    Learn more about Jaap van Zweden
  • Etienne Charles & Creole Soul


    Trinidad-born Etienne Charles is a performer, composer, and storyteller continuously searching for untold stories and sounds with which to tell them. His lush trumpet sound, varied compositional textures, and pulsating percussive grooves enable him to invoke trance, soothing and exciting listeners while referencing controversial subjects. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow and 2022 Creative Capital Awardee, he researches his compositions by traveling to the regions on which he is focused, meeting with musicians and cultural leaders, then observing and participating in rituals to be fully immersed in the culture. As an Afro-descendant, his work connects the diaspora and draws lines to regions at the roots of migrations. Highlighting marginalized communities has been his mission, evident in projects such as Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol. 1; San Jose Suite; Creole Soul; and Folklore. His concerts engage, enlighten, and enrich audiences with energized, multidisciplinary performance using original composition, thematic improvisation, dance, short films, and spoken word to create a holistic experience. Etienne Charles has been featured as a bandleader at major festivals, including the Newport Jazz Festival and Monterey Jazz Festival, and he is an associate professor of studio music and jazz at the University of Miami. Creole Soul, a band of global citizens, explores grooves, song forms, and rituals of the Caribbean and greater African Diaspora through original compositions and improvisation. Through the themes of the compositions, the group’s performances spark thought, newfound interest, and sometimes debate regarding historical events and their effects on society. The goal is engagement with audiences — on spiritual, intellectual, and primal levels. The ensemble is made up of interpreters and improvisers who, in addition to their adept musicianship, are connected to the immigrant experience and with the cultures from whence their families came. Creole Soul can be heard recorded on Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol. 1, by Etienne Charles. As a group these musicians have been featured at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Koerner Hall, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, and Java Jazz Festival (in Indonesia). The members have performed with a plethora of luminaries of the idiom, including Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Madonna, Roberta Flack, and SFJAZZ Collective.

Special Thanks

These concerts are part of the Wu Tsai Series Inaugural Season.

Commissioning of San Juan Hill: A New York Story is underwritten by Cecily M. Carson, Carson Family Charitable Trust.

Photo by Hollis King


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