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Just Announced: Anna Thorvaldsdottir Named Kravis Emerging Composer

Anna Thorvaldsdottir New York Philharmonic

You don’t have to spell it, but remember this name: Anna Thorvaldsdottir. She is “one of the most unique and expressive voices in the compositional scene today,” said Music Director Alan Gilbert, and she was just named the New York Philharmonic Kravis Emerging Composer.

The Philharmonic made this exciting announcement at tonight’s final CONTACT! concert of the 2014–15 season. The award recognizes an up-and-coming composer as part of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music.

The Icelandic composer will receive a $50,000 stipend, including a commission to compose a work for the Philharmonic to premiere in a future season. She succeeds Sean Shepherd, who was named the inaugural Kravis Emerging Composer in June 2012.

In 2012 Ms. Thorvaldsdottir won the Nordic Council Music Prize for her orchestral work Dreaming, one of the pieces on her album Rhízōma. Check it out here.

Critics Hail CONTACT! Hosted by John Adams

CONTACT! John Adams NY Philharmonic

On Monday’s season premiere of CONTACT!, our new-music series, Philharmonic cellist Nathan Vickery was “formidable,” violinist Anna Rabinova “played brilliantly,” and the entire ensemble was “impressive,” according to The New York Times. 

Feast of Music joined the applause, writing of the program hosted by American composer John Adams: “The Phil musicians really showed their chops here, with crisp, clean playing and beautiful, clear sustains. As good and vital as all the young NYC new music groups are, CONTACT’s raison d’être has never been more clear.” 

Check out the rest of this season’s music from the cutting edge.

(Photo: Mike DiVito)

VIDEO: The Biennial Minute: Episode Four

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 fourth episode, "The Biennial Minute" takes us to SubCulture, where Philharmonic musicians performed works by young American composers, a co-presentation of the New York Philharmonic and 92nd Street Y, followed by a post-concert Play Date where audience members mingled with composers and musicians. Plus, you'll meet the three composers chosen to have their works premiered this week by the NY Philharmonic as part of the American Composers Orchestra's EarShot Program.

Alan Gilbert and Philharmonic Take 3 of NYMag’s Top 10 Concerts

ny mag 

In baseball, 3 for 10 is a .300 average — the benchmark of a top hitter. In music it’s not bad, either.

Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic have three concerts on New York magazine's “10 Best Classical Performances of the Year” — more than any other musical institution.

Equally satisfying is the wide range the three concerts reflect. Here’s what critic Justin Davidson wrote:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, from September's Art of the Score: Film Week at the Philharmonic. “Stanley Kubrick’s trippy meditation on galactic travel never seemed more operatic than when the Philharmonic ripped the great soundtrack out of two dimensions and into the concert hall.”
  • Unsuk Chin's Gougalon, from the April CONTACT! concerts: “Scored for a jangly ensemble of percussion, strings, winds, and brass, the piece, subtitled 'Scenes From a Street Theater,' evokes the raucous soundtrack of the composer’s native Seoul. ... Chin’s work made the whole concert snap into focus.”
  • Ives’s Symphony No. 4, from an April subscription concert: “Few conductors can whip Ives’s crazy megalopolis of a score into luminous sense more effectively than Alan Gilbert.”

Alan's "Legacy of Change"

Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic

With the last of our Concerts in the Parks last night, we have brought our 2012–13 New York season to a close, and the critics have looked back, not only on this year, but on the first four with Alan Gilbert as Music Director. On Tuesday The New York Times raved about his commitment to a vibrant range of activities, from the Parks Concerts and educational activities to new-music initiatives such as CONTACT! and next season’s inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, and concluded, “he is building a legacy that matters and is helping to change the template for what an American orchestra can be.”

This, on the heels of New York Magazine’s June 30 assessment, titled “The Invisible Revolution,” which declared that “Alan Gilbert’s unflashy radicalism is re-creating the Philharmonic,” and noted highlights such as his “powerful case for wresting [Bach’s B-minor Mass] back from specialists and performing it with an anachronistic but rich and supple ensemble” and the “searing violence” of his interpretation of Dallapiccola’s Il prigioniero, in which “there was not a perfunctory second.” After musing on how the Music Director “travels through a musical landscape with a naturalist’s vigilance, alert to moments of drama even before they happen, knowing that a distant, barely audible murmur portends a calamitous event nearby,” the critic concluded, “It’s a good thing he’s game for adventures.”

We couldn’t agree more!