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Ring-a-Ding-Ding!

Michelle Kim and Eileen Moon

If she weren't a violinist, Assistant Concertmaster Michelle Kim says she'd be a vocalist. "We are all ultimately trying to sound like the voice," she says. Her father is a tenor and her son, Ethan, sings in the school chorus. The best advice she was ever given is to "study the score, sing, and breathe." 

So it comes as no surprise that Michelle's ringtone is The Voice himself, Frank Sinatra. Her current selection is Ol' Blue Eyes singing "Fly Me to the Moon."

"Always loved him and always will," Michelle says.

Pictured: Assistant Concertmaster Michelle Kim (left) backstage with Associate Principal Cello Eileen Moon. Photo by Chris Lee.

Saturn Night Live

The Planets - An HD Odyssey

Holst nicknamed Saturn “The Bringer of Old Age," but it's still winning beauty pageants: astronomers call Saturn the most photogenic member of the solar system in interviews for The Planets – An HD Odyssey, the high-definition film of NASA images that will accompany the Philharmonic’s performance of Holst’s epic suite, July 5–7. 

Holst was actually channeling each planet's astrological meanings, rather than astronomical features, but Duncan Copp, the film's director/producer, says Holst's music syncs up with the NASA images best in "Saturn," which happened to be Holst's favorite movement. “Look carefully and you’ll see two small ‘shepherd’ moons scooting along next to the rings as the planet majestically rises and the music builds to a crescendo,” Copp told the Houston Symphony, which commissioned the film.

Copp, who holds a doctorate in astronomy, still has a soft spot for Venus; for four years he was a member of the NASA team that mapped it. “Temperatures are 470 degrees Celsius [878 degrees Fahrenheit] on the surface, and it’s got a choking atmosphere. It’s a hellish world, but Holst saw it as a beautiful world, and his music reflects that. It’s the goddess of beauty and love … a picture of pure serenity.”

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: A Dancer's Premiere

Last night, Avery Fisher Hall was filled with jealous puppets, dancing violinists, the Swiss Alps, a magic baton, and one passionate ballerina. Check out the slideshow above to relive opening night of the Philharmonic's genre-bending season finale, A Dancer's Dream, running through Saturday. 

The sold-out performances will be broadcast to theaters nationwide and beyond beginning in September.

Photos by Chris Lee

A Bubbly Birthday

Magnus Lindberg Kraft

A very happy 55th birthday to our former Composer-in-Residence, Magnus Lindberg! He remains a friend of the Phil, as evidenced by his participation as a soloist in his own work, Kraft, during our EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour. The performance, at Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Germany, is available for streaming at medici.tv. Or celebrate with Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic’s recent release on Dacapo, featuring three works composed during Magnus’s tenure as Composer-in-Residence: Expo, Piano Concerto No. 2, and Al Largo.

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.

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