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N.Y. Philharmonic Salutes University Musical Society President Kenneth Fischer

Kenneth Fischer University Musical Society New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic salutes Kenneth Fischer, who, it was just announced, will retire as President of the University of Michigan's University Musical Society (UMS) at the end of the 2016–17 season.

Mr. Fischer’s 30-year tenure at the helm of one of the nation’s oldest performing arts presenters has been marked by countless performances of the highest caliber and strong artistic partnerships, including regular appearances by the New York Philharmonic and a new multi-year residency launched in the fall of 2015 in conjunction with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (the photo above is from the launch of this residency, in October 2015). Mr. Fischer’s enduring contributions have enriched both the Ann Arbor community and the nation at large.  

“All of us at the New York Philharmonic congratulate Ken on his long and incredibly accomplished tenure as President of UMS,” said New York Philharmonic President Matthew VanBesien. “Not only has the Philharmonic been a regular visitor to Ann Arbor since it came for the first time with Josef Stransky under the Choral Union Series in 1916, but Ken has been a leader in evolving our relationship with UMS to create our unique and rich residency partnership, launched this past October, which includes both performances and a wide array of educational opportunities. Ken is truly an icon in the field of arts presenters, and has been a wonderful partner and friend to the Philharmonic. On a personal level, I can’t help but be proud to call him a colleague and a friend, as well as a fellow horn player and Interlochen alum! We look forward to another season of partnership with Ken and UMS, and to many years of friendship.”

Music Director Alan Gilbert said, “Ken Fischer’s tenure in Ann Arbor has reflected his love of music and commitment to bringing the best artists and programs to his community. Our partnership with the University Musical Society, created under Ken’s guidance, is exactly the kind of collaborative venture that I believe the New York Philharmonic should be pursuing.”

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Anthony McGill Named 'True Champion of Justice' by John Jay

Congratulations, Anthony!

Last week Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill received the 2016 John Jay Justice Award at a ceremony at the College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater. The annual award celebrates five people who are “true champions of justice.” Among the fellow awardees was feminist icon Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. magazine.

After the beautiful video above was shown, President Matthew VanBesien and Board Member Alec Baldwin presented the award to Mr. McGill. “How lucky we are to have this special individual as an ambassador,” VanBesien said of McGill.

“When I think back, I could never have imagined receiving this honor,” said McGill. “I was just a clarinet player in a band.” Having access to important mentors and important institutions, he noted, “is something every child deserves.”

The Justice Awards, created in 2008, affirm the commitment of John Jay College to strengthening society’s social fabric through justice and civic engagement. Named after John Jay, a founding father and first Chief Justice of the United States, the awards recognize individuals and organizations for their unparalleled dedication to the cause of justice.

David Geffen Donates $100 Million To Lead Transformation of Philharmonic's Concert Home, To Be Renamed David Geffen Hall

Avery Fisher Hall NY Philharmonic

In the word of New York Philharmonic Chairman Oscar S. Schafer, "Wow."

The New York Philharmonic is thrilled that music and media executive David Geffen has given $100 million to lead the transformation of the Philharmonic's concert home, which will become David Geffen Hall as of the Opening Night of our 2015–16 season on September 24, 2015.

Schafer added: "This remarkable gift will help pave the way for the Philharmonic to realize its vision in creating a revitalized hall suited to the excellence of this Orchestra. The gift also unlocks so many possibilities in the future. We are really excited by this inspired gift."

Matthew VanBesien, President of the New York Philharmonic, said: "We applaud David Geffen for making possible the creation of a dynamic new home for the New York Philharmonic here at Lincoln Center, something so paramount in helping us achieve our vision of an Orchestra for the 21st Century. We look forward to working together with Lincoln Center to create a revitalized hall that will allow us to imagine new possibilities, reflecting the way in which our art form and audiences are evolving, and that will inspire the great legacy of musicians and artists who will grace its stage."

"It was a quick yes for me," Geffen told The New York Times. "I’m a kid from Brooklyn — it’s a big deal. I watched them build this building."

(Photo: Julie Skarratt)

SLIDESHOW: A Glamorous Opening Gala

The New York Philharmonic launched its 2014–15 season last night! Following a glittering pre-concert reception, the Opening Gala centered on La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema, in which Music Director Alan Gilbert and the Orchestra were joined by a starry array of artists — Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, and Josh Groban plus Martin Scorsese and Alec Baldwin. Afterward, the Gala audience crossed the Lincoln Center Plaza for a post-concert dinner in the David H. Koch Theater. Echoing the festive occasion, the Empire State Building shone Philharmonic red last night in celebration of the new season. Relive the festivities!

Audra McDonald, Philharmonic Help Open Harlem Week

Harlem Week NY Philharmonic 

Last night at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, our old friend Audra McDonald joined us and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Harlem Week, a series of events that "celebrate the unique and diverse essence of Harlem." McDonald received an award as part of the event.

We are delighted to be deepening our ties with Harlem, reviving a connection that involved the Orchestra’s annual appearances there during the 1980s by adding a new element that involves more of what the Philharmonic can offer in terms of inspiration and expertise.

In August Philharmonic Teaching Artists will participate in the Harlem Children’s Festival, and we are discussing programmatic and outreach ideas that will enrich the lives of our musicians and the people who live and work in Harlem into the future.

Above, left to right: Terrance McKight, Evening Host, WQXR-FM; Robin Bell-Stevens, Executive Director, Jazzmobile; Actor/Writer/Producer Daniel Beaty; Marci McCall, Board Member, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Tony Award Winner Audra McDonald; New York Philharmonic President and Executive Director Matthew VanBesien; Elinor Tatum, Publisher, Amsterdam News; and representatives from Apple Bank for Savings. Photo: Chris Lee

Philharmonic Announces Partnership with Music Academy of the West

NY Philharmonic-Music Academy of the West 

The New York Philharmonic and Music Academy of the West have entered into a four-year partnership that will create unique and intensive opportunities for selected Music Academy Fellows to train with New York Philharmonic musicians and Music Director Alan Gilbert in Santa Barbara and New York. Above: Scott Reed, President of the Academy, with Alan Gilbert and New York Philharmonic Executive Director Matthew VanBesien.

Alan Gilbert, the New York Philharmonic, its Assistant Conductors, and musicians will have a presence at the Music Academy Summer Festival for training and performances each summer for four years beginning in 2014, culminating in a joint concert with the New York Philharmonic and Academy Festival Orchestra celebrating the Music Academy’s 70th anniversary in 2017.

Read the press release.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

PHOTOS: The Tour Starts in Seoul

More than 6,000 miles from home, Music Director Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic launch the ten-concert, six-city ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour with a concert and educational partnership in Seoul, South Korea. 

Alan Gilbert Accepts AmCham Transatlantic Partnership Award for Philharmonic

AmCham Transatlantic Partnership Award 

Last night in Berlin, Music Director Alan Gilbert accepted this year's AmCham Germany Transatlantic Partnership Award on behalf of the New York Philharmonic. The award is given annually by the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham) to a person or entity — one American, one German — that has made "significant contributions to the German-American relationship and seeking to support future endeavors," according to AmCham's website. This year's German awardee was the Berlin Philharmonic.

About their choice, AmCham said:

"The jury of AmCham Germany’s Transatlantic Partnership Award has chosen to recognize both orchestras for their outstanding international cultural achievements in and around the metropolitan areas of Berlin and New York. Through the universal language of music and their mutual efforts on both sides of the Atlantic, they build bridges and bring continents together."

The photo shows Gilbert and Sir Simon Rattle, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic (holding awards) and, at far right, Executive Director Matthew VanBesien. Between Gilbert and Rattle is Joachim Gauck, President of Germany.

"I’m honored that the New York Philharmonic is being acknowledged in this way, as I fully embrace the belief that music does have a power to speak in a universal language which spans borders, languages, and cultures,” said Gilbert.