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“Gripping Performance” of Kaddish Symphony Caps Bernstein Festival Finale

 

The bad news: our three-week Bernstein’s Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival, saluting our beloved Laureate Conductor, is wrapping up.

The good news: there are still two more nights to catch the “gripping performance” (The New York Times) of Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Reversal of Fortune) and the “glittering account” of R. Strauss’s Don Quixote. “[Kaddish Symphony] exudes a theatricality that is all Bernstein,” and in Don Quixote  “the Philharmonic’s Carter Brey played the extensive cello solo magnificently, and Cynthia Phelps excelled in the solo viola passages,” reports the newspaper of record.

Fun fact: Bernstein made his Philharmonic debut at age 25, then the Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor, leading Don Quixote — famously filling in with a few hours’ notice and without rehearsal for an ailing Bruno Walter. The New York Times ran a front-page story the next day, calling his performance “a good American success story.”

Plus: we introduce our youngest fans to Bernstein at this weekend’s Young People’s Concert — the series Bernstein made famous on TV — and perform his greatest Broadway hits on New Year’s Eve.

See you Saturday at 8 PM or Tuesday at 7:30 PM!

 

 

(Photos: Chris Lee)

Carter Brey and Cynthia Phelps On Reprising Musical Roles in Don Quixote

“Don Quixote takes himself seriously, and Strauss understands this,” Brey notes. “When he’s off tilting at windmills, he gets heroic battle music. When he’s jonesing after his girlfriend, you get the most meltingly beautiful love theme. Strauss leaves it to the audience to understand the tragedy implicit in the fact that this gentleman has lost his mind.”

A retired gentleman obsessed with books of chivalry, Don Quixote convinces himself that he is a valiant knight, leaving his squire, Sancho Panza, to clean up the mess. For the 15th time together, Principal Cello Carter Brey becomes the bemused knight and Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps plays his beleaguered squire when the New York Philharmonic performs Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, November 9–14, led by Leonard Slatkin.

“I’ve learned a lot in my years of playing with Cindy,” Brey says. “Carter is one of the great, great Don Quixotes,” says Phelps.

Phelps perhaps came closest to embodying her besieged character back when she was principal viola of the Minnesota Orchestra. “I broke a string right before my first big solo entrance, and I had to grab my stand partner’s instrument. He in turn grabbed the No. 3’s viola, and she restrung mine for me.”

The performance is part of Bernstein’s Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival. Bernstein made his Philharmonic debut at age 25, then the Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor, leading Don Quixote — famously filling in with a few hours’ notice and without rehearsal for an ailing Bruno Walter. The New York Times ran a front-page story the next day, calling his performance “a good American success story.”

Break a string (or better yet, don’t!), Carter and Cindy!

In the Swing of the Bernstein Festival

Bernstein’s jazzy side took over David Geffen Hall last night when Alan Gilbert led the second program in our three-week salute to our former Music Director, Bernstein's Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival. Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill took on Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs, while our friend Makoto Ozone returned to play Bernstein’s part — literally, since he performed both pieces as a pianist! — in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Bernstein’s own Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety. After the concert the soloists met up with Board Member Laura Chang and Arnold Chavkin, who are providing major support for the festival.

You can still catch this fun program Saturday night.

And get excited with this New York Times Facebook Live video of Makoto Ozone talking about the program:

(Photos: Chris Lee)

PHOTOS: Leonard Bernstein’s Legacy of Innovation at the N.Y. Philharmonic

Bernstein’s Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival kicked off last night, with the first performances of Bernstein’s Serenade (After Plato’s Symposium) with Joshua Bell, his Jeremiah Symphony, and the U.S. Premiere of Joey Roukens’s Boundless (Homage to L.B.)

As we celebrate our former Music Director in his 100th birthday year, here is a look back at his transformative tenure. Its echoes are heard and felt to this day at the New York Philharmonic.

N.Y. Philharmonic Musicians: Lenny Is Still With Us

“They will always be my orchestra,” Leonard Bernstein said of the New York Philharmonic.

And, as this video shows, Philharmonic musicians still consider him “Our Lenny,” whom we celebrate with Bernstein’s Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival, Oct. 25–Nov. 14.

Watch as they open up about the enduring connection between them and our former Music Director, and the many ways in which his legacy lives on here.

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