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PHOTOS: First Two Days of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL

In its first two days, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL has already yielded three programs and lots of photos. Here are just a few highlights:

From Gotham Chamber Opera's production of Toshio Hosokawa's The Raven (photos by Richard Termine):

The Raven NY Philharmonic

The Raven NY Philharmonic

From HK Gruber's Gloria – A Pig Tale, led by Alan Gilbert at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (photos by Chris Lee):

Gruber Gloria A Pig Tale NY Philharmonic

Gruber Gloria A Pig Tale NY Philharmonic

From Beyond Recall, part of CONTACT! at the Biennial, at MoMA (photos by Chris Lee):

Beyond Recall NY Philharmonic

Beyond Recall NY Philharmonic

NY PHIL BIENNIAL 'Off to Encouraging Start': The New York Times

New York Times Review NY Philharmonic

"Judging by the enthusiastic audience that filled the hall, the first NY Phil Biennial is off to an encouraging start," said The New York Times in its review of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL's opening concert.

The Financial Times, meanwhile, gave the opening concert a rave five-star review: "The Raven, staged as part of the Biennial festival sponsored by the New York Philharmonic, celebrates the expressive powers of compression, precision and stylisation. The inherent cries and whimpers, screams and thumps, rumbles and rattles validate Poe’s despair as a matter of poetic compulsion.... There is nothing ordinary ... about the virtuosos at work here."

Honorable mention goes to Superconductor's review of The Raven — in verse. 

New York Classical Review applauded the second biennial program: "From his heart-to-hearts with the Grim Reaper, which were posted on YouTube in advance of performances of Le Grand Macabre, to appearances on Sesame Street, [Alan Gilbert has] been refreshingly game for hijinks rarely undertaken by classical conductors. And that same playfulness showed through as he led a new production of HK Gruber’s cabaret opera, Gloria: A Pig’s Tale, which premiered as part of the Philharmonic’s inaugural Biennial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thursday night."

Sean Shepherds You Through the Biennial

"This week marks the start of something big, busy, and possibly brilliant in New York."

Thus begins composer Sean Shepherd, the Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer, in his Biennial Blog on NewMusicBox, where he'll chronicle his journey through nearly all 21 concerts of the 11-day NY PHIL BIENNIAL. Check out his first post here, and stay tuned for more of his posts on the biennial from a composer's perspective.

You can also hear from Sean in person during the free Insights Series event "21st-Century Landmarks" June 4, when he sits down with Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse, composer/conductor Matthias Pintscher, composer Julia Wolfe, composer/NewMusicBox senior editor Frank J. Oteri, and Scholar-in-Residence Carol J. Oja to talk about this century's emerging masterworks.

But wait, there's more: you can hear Sean's music June 18–21 when the Philharmonic gives the World Premiere of his Songs, led by Alan Gilbert during The Beethoven Piano Concertos festival with Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman.

VIDEO: Dreamhouse or National Geographic?

We've all been humming Steven Mackey's Dreamhouse here at the Philharmonic offices, and Third Horn Leelanee Sterrett is into it too — she says the catchy tune reminds her of the National Geographic Theme. Check out the sneak peek she gave us during today's rehearsal break.

And check out the composer's thoughts on his Grammy-nominated fusion of rock and classical, a fascinating reaction to 9/11 and meditation on the American dream that calls for orchestra, electric guitars, wine bottles, a police whistle, and more (”It is a sweet, simple melody that I genuinely love, yet I am a little embarrassed that I love it precisely because it is so sweet and simple.")

Intrigued? Tickets for this NY PHIL BIENNIAL concert are available here (if you go May 30, be sure to stay to meet the composers and performers at the Play Date).

Alan Gilbert Soundchecks the NY PHIL BIENNIAL on WNYC

Gruber Gloria Rehearsal NY Philharmonic

"There are so many practical considerations that can militate against integration — we’re trying to transcend those. If this biennial can be a very pure and optimistic expression of that, so much the better."

So said Music Director Alan Gilbert on WNYC's Soundcheck this week. He sat down with host John Schaefer to talk all things NY PHIL BIENNIAL, from the blurring line between rock and classical ("Like Duke Ellington said, 'There're two kinds of music: good music and the other kind'") to the future of orchestras ("When we pare down and become a lean, mean contemporary-music ensemble, we can do a lot of things. The ability to be flexible and reactive, and use the capacity that is quite unique to the New York Philharmonic — I think that’s what the modern orchestra is going to be about").

Check out the interview here.

Game On! First-Ever NY PHIL BIENNIAL Begins with The Raven

Welcome to the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. It begins tonight, with the performance by Gotham Chamber Opera of two Poe-related operas: Toshio Hosokawa's The Raven and André Caplet's Conte fantastique: Le Masque de la Mort rouge.

Here are three photos from earlier this week, during rehearsals for The Raven, which is directed by Luca Veggetti and stars mezzo-soprano Fredrika Brillembourg and dancer Alessandra Ferri portraying two manifestations of the same character.




(Photos by Chris Lee)

VIDEO: The Biennial Minute: The Latest on the NY PHIL BIENNIAL in 60 Seconds

The New York Philharmonic takes you straight into the action with The Biennial Minute — a video series giving a taste of what is happening right now at the NY PHIL BIENNIAL (May 28–June 7). In the first episode, The Biennial Minute takes us behind-the-scenes at rehearsals for HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale (opening May 29 at the Met Museum) and Toshio Hosokawa’s “The Raven” (opening May 28 with Gotham Chamber Opera at John Jay College).