New York Philharmonic: What's New: Latest News and Stories About The New York Philharmonic
All concerts and events through January 5 are cancelled. Learn More about our response to Covid-19. Support the Philharmonic by donating your tickets.

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All concerts and events through January 5 are cancelled. Learn More about our response to Covid-19. Support the Philharmonic by donating your tickets.

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.

What's Markus Rhoten Looking Forward To?

Markus Rhoten 

In September, Markus Rhoten, Principal Timpani, The Carlos Moseley Chair, was featured in Playbill's Q&A feature. Here was one exchange:

What are you especially looking forward to this season?

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, The Year 1905. It’s an amazing, dramatic, powerful piece and the timpani part is like a concerto.

Feel the drama October 17–19, when Semyon Bychkov conducts the symphony, which vividly depicts the tragic events of the Russian Revolution of 1905, on a program with Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini.

Philharmonic Pioneers

Philharmonic Partners 

When you're next in Avery Fisher Hall, don't miss Philharmonic Pioneers: The Founding of the New York and Royal Philharmonic Societies, an exhibition by The New York Philharmonic Archives in the Bruno Walter Gallery. It features original materials belonging to the Royal Philharmonic Society that pertain to their commissioning of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It also showcases materials related to the 1846 U.S. Premiere of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony by the New York Philharmonic, which commissioned the first English translation of “Ode to Joy” for the occasion. The exhibition closes November 23.

'Vibrant, Lucid and Intriguing'

Alan Gilbert 

"As music director of the New York Philharmonic, the conductor Alan Gilbert has probably drawn the highest praise for his compelling advocacy of new, recent and overlooked repertory. But he is now making a significant artistic statement by leading a performance of a towering repertory work, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony," The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini wrote.

Here's Tommasini's review of that statement:

"For the New York Philharmonic’s concert at Avery Fisher Hall on Thursday night, the conductor Alan Gilbert took the idea of pairing a new work with a Beethoven symphony, which has become fairly common, to another dimension. The main work was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mr. Gilbert’s first performance of that piece with the Philharmonic. He led a vibrant, lucid and intriguing account that culminated with a fleet, exciting finale. ...

True to form, this insightful musician reveals the inner workings and wondrous complexities of the piece. In the first movement, I have seldom heard the bursts of counterpoint played with such transparency and rhythmic point. ...

His tempo for the scherzo was reined in just enough to make the jarring rhythmic accents leap out and the matrix of interwoven lines come through. The slow movement, which unfolded at a lapping Adagio pace, had lyrical elegance and rich string sound."

The Beethoven followed the U.S. Premiere of Frieze, by the British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. “Frieze is an audacious and vividly orchestrated piece from a major composer," Tommasini wrote. "Mr. Gilbert drew a kaleidoscopic performance from the Philharmonic."


Back to School Partnership Program

School Partnership Program 

To kick off each new school year, teachers of the Philharmonic's School Partnership Program (SPP) from all five boroughs gather at Lincoln Center to participate in Professional Development workshops led by New York Philharmonic Teaching Artists. Teachers and Teaching Artists work together to set goals, deepen their partnerships, and discuss strategies to engage each SPP student.

In addition, new SPP teachers are welcomed with a workshop to introduce them to the program (see photo). This year the 20 Teaching Artists are partnering with 186 teachers to serve more than 4,300 students.

Learn more about the Philharmonic's Education program. The program includes Young People's Concerts, the first of which this season is October 12 at 2 p.m.

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