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Thank-You Notes Usher in Subscriber Appreciation Month

 Subscriber Appreciation Month

As many of you have learned from thank-you notes on your seats, our third-annual Subscriber Appreciation Month began October 25.

That night, approximately 950 subscribers found a signed letter from Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow taped to their seat. Included with the note was a coupon for a free gift at one of our Subscriber Appreciation podiums on the Grand Promenade. The gift is a shrink-wrapped package of four notecards with New York Philharmonic images on them.

Subscriber Appreciation Month goes until November 22. Subscribers of 50 or more years will find a rose on their seat. Subscribers of three or more years will see their name listed in a recognition insert in Playbill. Subscribers of 50 or more years will be invited to take an Archives tour with Archivist Barbara Haws.

More fun ideas are in the works. Subscribers: it's official. We truly appreciate you, and thank you.

(Photo by James Eng)

Alan Gilbert Leads Juilliard Orchestra with 'Humanity' and 'Testosterone'

Alan Gilbert conducts the Juilliard Orchestra

"It is a testimony to the conductor Alan Gilbert’s commitment to education that while busy with his work as music director of the New York Philharmonic he is also the director of conducting and orchestral studies at the Juilliard School," wrote The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini October 18, in a listing item for the performance by Gilbert and the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall October 21.

Reviewing the concert for the Times, Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim wrote, "Mr. Gilbert, who conducted the hourlong symphony from memory, shaped a performance that combined deep humanity, especially in the Adagio, with high charges of testosterone in the Scherzo and Finale." She added:

There are experts — I’m not one of them — who can identify an orchestra by its sound. During Monday evening’s concert of the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, I found myself wondering what these people would have heard if they had sat blindfolded through this program of works by Bartok and Bruckner, conducted by Alan Gilbert. As powerful waves of rich brass chords rolled out during the last movement of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, would they have guessed that the players are students, most in their early 20s? When the sound of the violins intensified with the heat and gleam of molten metal, could they have known that the section was almost entirely made up of women?

In any case, such a blind test would have deprived the listener of the visual pleasure of watching this polished and passionate ensemble dig into Bruckner’s music with a palpable thirst for adventure.

(Photo by Peter Schaaf)

New York Philharmonic and Present Free Webcasts October 27–31

"I love New York Philharmonic" 

Beginning Sunday, October 27, will air five free Webcasts of special New York Philharmonic performances as part of its “I ♥ New York Philharmonic” festival. The programs will be available for viewing through November 3.

Here are the programs (streams begin at 3:00 p.m. New York time):

October 27: A Dancer's Dream, a multidisciplinary, theatrical reimagining of Stravinsky's The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert, created by Giants Are Small, and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns, from June 2013

October 28: Stockhausen's Gruppen, performed as part of Philharmonic 360, a co-presentation with Park Avenue Armory from 2012, led by Alan Gilbet, Magnus Lindberg, and Matthias Pintscher

October 29: “The Pyongyang Concert,” featuring the Philharmonic's historic 2008 performance in Pyongyang, North Korea, led by then-Music Director Lorin Maazel and featuring Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony and works by Gershwin and Bernstein

October 30: Chinese New Year Gala Concert performances led by Long Yu and featuring pianist Lang Lang and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano

October 31: Magnus Lindberg's Kraft at Volkswagen's Transparent Factory in Dresden, Germany, led by Alan Gilbert as part of the Orchestra’s EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour



Full House for Glenn Dicterow's 'Fireside Chat'

Glenn Dicterow and Barbara Haws 

Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium was packed for last night's Insights Series event with Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow. It was the perfect launch to this season's Insights Series events, all of which are free.

Philharmonic Archivist Barbara Haws engaged Dicterow in elevated and entertaining conversation, playing off photographs and video, that allowed Dicterow to reflect on his tenure and give attendees a glimpse behind the curtain.

Here's one real-time Twitter review, from @GeorgeMathew:

Beautiful "fireside chat" tonight hosted by Barbara Haws with @nyphil concertmaster Glenn Dicterow celebrating his incredible 34year tenure.

Join us October 28 for the next Insights Series event, with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Leila Josefowicz.

The Friends and Patrons Chair Endowment Campaign Succeeds

Yulia Ziskel 

Thanks to Philharmonic Friends and Patrons, violinist Yulia Ziskel now officially occupies The Friends and Patrons Chair. You will see the addition in Playbill and any other official listing.

The three-year campaign to raise $250,000 to endow the chair was completed in only 14 months.

"I am absolutely thrilled to learn that the Friends and Patrons of the New York Philharmonic have met the challenge and raised $250,000 to name my chair in the Orchestra The Friends and Patrons Chair," Ziskel said. "It is a great honor and I am delighted that in naming my chair we have raised a substantial sum to help the Orchestra."

Alan Gilbert: 'Energetic, Animated and Enthusiastic'

Alan Gilbert 

Today's Wall Street Journal has an interview with Music Director Alan Gilbert by Ralph Gardner Jr., who sought Gilbert's expert opinions about Beethoven's Ninth and what makes some art and artists truly great. Here is an excerpt:

The maestro is such an energetic, animated and enthusiastic presence that once he got going, it was simply a pleasure to sit back, listen and learn. ...

“[One] thing we’ve been talking about backstage is the comfort [Beethoven's Ninth] can bring in chaotic times,” Mr. Gilbert said, mentioning the New York City Opera filing for bankruptcy and the federal government’s shutdown. “The Ninth is a stabilizing presence. There’s been a very strong sense of community in the room. It’s been very moving. Orchestra members tell me how many members of the audience end up in tears by the last movement.” ...

“What Beethoven was trying to do was so different than anything that had gone before it,” Mr. Gilbert explained. “I’d argue anything that followed since. He was trying to say something universal about humanity. In fact, there is an ambition to express something that hadn’t been expressed in symphonic music before.

“What Beethoven did was set the bar,” he added. The composer is the reason “that Mahler in his symphonies tried to say everything there is to say about life. Brahms couldn’t write symphonies for a long time because of the footsteps he heard behind him. This was literally history-changing music.” ...

“I’ve done the Ninth a number of times,” he went on. “I got a new score. It didn’t have any of my previous markings to trigger associations or thoughts. I don’t know if I changed, but I found a new relationship with the piece this time around.” ...

Mr. Gilbert, 46 years old, grew up in Manhattan. He attended the Fieldston School before heading to Harvard. In high school, he briefly considered becoming a doctor: “A friend who was a surgeon let me observe operations at Roosevelt Hospital.”

“I kept circling back to music,” he added. “It wasn’t really a choice. It chose me.”

His parents also might have had something to do with it. His mother, Yoko Takebe, is a violinist with the Philharmonic. His father, Michael Gilbert, also a violinist, retired from the orchestra in 2001. I wondered what it’s like to occupy a stage with one’s mother, and whether she critiques his performances.

“It’s more like we share in the experience,” he explained. “She’s playing well. It’s going well for me. We’re both able to have a good time.”

 (Photo: Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)

Alan Gilbert on Multimedia Concerts: 'This Is Our Identity'

Alan Gilbert and Doug Fitch 

Music Director Alan Gilbert was recently featured in a Washington Post article by Anne Midgette on multimedia performances by orchestras. As Midgette notes, interdisciplinary performances through collaboration with other institutions and artists are one way in which Gilbert has brought a fresh approach to music-making. (Above, Gilbert works on one such project with director-designer Doug Fitch.) She writes:

In 2008, I reviewed a U-Md. concert called “The Petrushka Project.” [James] Ross and the director/puppeteer Doug Fitch, who are old friends, teamed up to create a performance of Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” that had the orchestra musicians wearing bits of costume, stomping their feet, drinking tea, and performing other stage business. It seemed a worthy one-off experiment.

Description: Description: lo and behold, the “Petrushka Project” has come to the New York Philharmonic. Paired with another Stravinsky work, it closed the orchestra’s 2012-13 season and was filmed for distribution in movie theaters this month under the title “A Dancer’s Dream.” Alan Gilbert, the Philharmonic’s music director, is planning to take it on tour.

“I couldn’t have imagined this five years ago, when I was asked to be the orchestra’s music director,” Gilbert said by phone last week.

In his four years at the Philharmonic to date, Gilbert has been an active champion of alternative forms of concert performance. In addition to its traditional diet of symphonies and concertos, the orchestra has offered semi-staged opera productions (directed by Fitch), theatrical presentations of contemporary music, and, yes, film-score accompaniment. “After four years,” Gilbert said, “it’s possible to say it’s not just an aberration. . . . This is our identity, not something we’re pasting on.”

Gilbert’s motivation is not to reach new audiences or find ways to make music more approachable. “I don’t buy that you need to juice up the concert experience with visuals to continue to be relevant,” he said. “I think sitting in a hall where music is being created live, in front of your face, is one of the most meaningful experiences you can have, still. That said . . . orchestras as institutions have to be more than just concert-producing mechanisms.” He added, “I am very interested in showing connections between what we do and what other cultural institutions and forces do.”

Conservatory Collaborations: Mark-Anthony Turnage

Conservatory Collaborations: Turnage 

Last week, as part of the Philharmonic’s Conservatory Collaborations program, composer Mark-Anthony Turnage met with graduate-student composers from NYU, Columbia, and City College to share insights about his piece Frieze, which opened the recent concerts featuring Beethoven's Ninth.

In addition to presenting free roundtable discussions with guest artists, Conservatory Collaborations offers graduate students and young professionals in conducting and composing free access to New York Philharmonic rehearsals. To find out more, click here.

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