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'Composing Outside the Lines': Read The New York Times Profile of Unsuk Chin

Unsuk Chin NY Philharmonic

Yesterday's New York Times had a Critic's Notebook profile by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim of Unsuk Chin, the Korean-born, Berlin-based composer whose music we perform on this week's program.

"Ms. Chin, 53, is sought after by leading orchestras and soloists for her colorful, audacious and often darkly humorous music," the article said. "On Tuesday, Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic and the Finnish star clarinetist Kari Kriiku in the American premiere of Ms. Chin’s Clarinet Concerto at Avery Fisher Hall." ...

“Humor is distance from yourself,” Ms. Chin said. Then she made a declaration that, in certain new-music circles, may elicit even more horror than her decision to quote from Bizet: “I, for instance, don’t take myself seriously at all.” 

The article is a good introduction to a colorful and down-to-earth composer who has become a favorite of Music Director Alan Gilbert and the musicians of the Orchestra.

Below is a tweet a member of the audience at yesterday's Open Rehearsal sent about her piece. Join us Friday, Saturday, or Tuesday to hear her music alongside Mahler's First Symphony. And she will participate in the Pre-Concert Insights before the Friday concert.

The New York Times Previews Chaplin Concerts with Piece on Chaplin, the Composer

Charlie Chaplin NY Philharmonic The New York Times

A century after his Little Tramp character first appeared on screen, Charlie Chaplin is remembered for many things: as the derby-hatted, mustachioed comic symbol of the silent screen; as one of the first true international superstars; as an actor, writer and director who helped elevate film to a respected art form even as he enjoyed enormous popular success.

But it is another, often overlooked aspect of Chaplin’s creative output that will be explored this weekend in New York: his work as a composer.

Read the rest of "Silent Star Gets Full Orchestration," Michael Cooper's in-depth look at Chaplin, the composer, in today's New York Times. Cooper interviewed Timothy Brock, who conducts the New York Philharmonic in the concerts, which are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

New York Times Fall Preview Touts Several Phil Concerts

The New York Times Fall Arts Preview highlighted several of our offerings in the next few months: 

In addition, the digital version of the Fall Arts Preview features the Times 100, an interactive, curated list of 100 cultural happenings this fall. The Nielsen Project and Inon Barnatan are included.

Follow the links, read up on it all, and join us!

N.Y. Times Taps Gilbert, Philharmonic, Phelps, McGill for 'Fantasy Festival'

New York Times NY Philharmonic Alan Gilbert 

The New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert feature prominently in New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini's "fantasy music festival" of 20th Century American works, which he describes in a fascinating article in today's paper titled "They Heard America Playing: Copland, Thomson and Others in a Fantasy Music Festival." It's the latest piece in a series in which Times critics curate their personal fantasy art experiences.

For one program, I would draft Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic to perform symphonies and film scores by Copland and Thomson. The concert could open with Copland’s suite from “Our Town,” the wistfully beautiful score he composed for the classic 1940 film version of the Thornton Wilder play. This would be followed by Thomson’s Suite from “Louisiana Story,” little heard these days. Audiences would be swept away by the plaintive beauty and folkloric character of the music. ...

For the other symphonic program, I would again draft the Philharmonic but present the concert at Carnegie Hall and ask Marin Alsop to conduct. It would open with one of Piston’s smart, inventive Neo-Classical symphonies, perhaps the Second (1943) or the Sixth (1955), both of which I admire. I would couple a symphony with Piston’s remarkable 1957 Viola Concerto, with the Philharmonic’s superb principal violist, Cynthia Phelps, as soloist.

For a chamber-music concert, Tommasini picks incoming Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill to help play Roy Harris’s Concerto for String Quartet, Piano and Clarinet, "an inexplicably neglected work from the mid-1920s."

New York Times Goes Behind Scenes of Concerts in the Parks

New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks


"How many pounds of ice does it take to put on a New York Philharmonic concert in the park?

Two thousand, to be exact, and that’s not to chill the picnickers’ chardonnay.

The ice is to cool the drinks for the army of workers who arrive at dawn and work through often-sweltering days to erect an outdoor concert hall in an effort akin to setting up a three-ring circus in about 15 hours. And it’s for the musicians, who sometimes have to play in punishing heat while wearing black pants (though the men are allowed to take off their white jackets, if it’s too hot)..."

In an article for The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin went behind the scenes of the extremely big and complex logistical side of the Philharmonic's Concerts in the Parks. It's a fun read — check it out!

(Photo: Chris Lee)

NPR, The New York Times Profile Dicterow, Orchestra's Peacemaker

NPR Glenn Dicterow NY Philharmonic 

All the media coverage on the retirement of Glenn Dicterow as our Concertmaster is giving us a look not only at the man, but an unusually candid peek into the job he’s held, magnificently, for 34 years.

Yesterday's All Things Considered story in particular focused on the chair's role as diplomat and politician.

A big part of his job, he said, has been to "make peace," Dicterow revealed, adding: "Everyone needs to get along to make gorgeous music. That's the bottom line."

That was hard during the Orchestra's "cantankerous" years when he started, he said, recalling some "pushing and shoving matches." Now, with a more diverse roster that's more than half women, it's easier, he added.

In his own rich article in today's New York Times, Michael Cooper drew yet more colorful memories and insights from and about Glenn, including about being a diplomat between guest conductors and the Orchestra:

Mr. Dicterow recalled a rehearsal for an oratorio that took nearly an hour to get through the opening bars, as the conductor tried to coax more of a period sound out of the orchestra, which is better known for sounding brash than Baroque. “You just have to try to save it,” he said. “I think that’s what a great concertmaster needs to do. He needs to mediate, to be a secretary of state.”

Good stuff. Follow the links above to hear/read more.

Learn about New York Philharmonic Presents: The Glenn Dicterow Collection

Critics Praise Alan Gilbert and Yefim Bronfman, a Pianist 'For All Time'

Alan Gilbert Yefim Bronfman NY Philharmonic 

"The piano soloist, all month long, is Yefim Bronfman, than whom there is not a better pianist in the world. He is not a pianist merely for now but for all time."

So begins Jay Nordlinger's review of Friday's concert in The New Criterion. He added, "Bronfman is made for Beethoven, given this strong lyricism, and the intelligence, and the technique, and everything else in this pianist’s arsenal. Not excluded from this arsenal is humor: Bronfman revealed some of that in the cadenza."

Nordlinger added that Music director Alan Gilbert "is adept in Beethoven. In fact, he conducted one of the best performances of the Fourth Symphony I have ever heard. ... Gilbert is both solid and smooth, and knows how Beethoven should be sculpted."

The New York Times' Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, reviewing the June 11 concert, found the performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 to be "the concert’s emotional and musical highlight. With the help of Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Bronfman brought out the tension between the serenity of the opening statement and the nervy pulse that repeatedly tries to edge it onward."

In Concerto.Net, Harry Rolnick, reviewing the June 11 concert, said Bronfman played Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 "with all the pellucid beauty of tone and clarity of conception which it deserves. ... Two more weeks of Bronfman, Gilbert and Beethoven? The mind is elated."

New York Classical Review's Amanda Angel was there the same night. Of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 she said, "The rapport between orchestra, Gilbert, and soloist, which flourished across this season, was clear in the rondo in which the piano and orchestra alternate showcased Bronfman’s virtuosity."

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Praise for Alan Gilbert and Philharmonic's Rouse Requiem at Carnegie Hall

Alan Gilbert NY Philharmonic Carnegie Hall 

"Spring for Music opened on Monday evening at Carnegie Hall with a powerful performance of Christopher Rouse’s Requiem by the New York Philharmonic and the Westminster Symphonic Choir, conducted by Alan Gilbert," The New York Times review began. "[I]t is hard to imagine Mr. Rouse’s work receiving a more rapt reception — or a more passionate performance..."

Superconductor's Paul J. Pelkonen wrote:

The Sanctus was a slow-building crescendo, started by the singers of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus in the first tier of the hall. Conducting with eyes in the back of his head, Mr. Gilbert divided his attention between this offstage force and the massive orchestra in front of him, adding elements of sound as the whole rose to a stupefying climax. ...

Alan Gilbert directed this flow of musical traffic, ensuring a smooth switching between these interacting blocks of sound, building one upon another like the alternating sections of a Bruckner chorale. The work came to a soft, redemptive close with a soft final statement of the Requiem theme. The applause that followed was another welcome, percussive roar of sound. 

Concerto.net said:

Conductor Alan Gilbert conducted this New York premiere with his usual aplomb, care and actual excitement. Without that excitement, in fact, the Rouse Requiem might have been a lament only for the dead, rather than the very living participants.

Listen to WQXR's archived audio stream.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

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