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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!

Principal Cello Carter Brey and N.Y. Philharmonic Musicians To Perform at Sandy Hook Benefit

 

On June 4 — the same week that the full Orchestra performs concerts celebrating music’s power to unite and heal — Principal Cello Carter Brey and some of his fellow New York Philharmonic musicians will manifest this power for the community of survivors of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

They will perform at Chasing the Music, a benefit for the CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation, founded by Stephen and Rebecca Kowalski to celebrate the life of their son, Chase, through programs that support the health and wellness of children and their families. The event will take place at 2:00 p.m. at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Watch Brey and Rebecca Kowalski discuss the project in the video above.

The musicians will perform Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, with Sandy Hook Elementary School student artwork projected onstage to illustrate each of the movements. The Philharmonic musicians joining Brey are Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, Assistant Concertmaster Michelle Kim, Associate Principal Viola Rebecca Young, Principal Bass Timothy Cobb, Principal Flute Robert Langevin, and Associate Principal Percussion Daniel Druckman. The other musicians are pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter, clarinetist Pavel Vinnitsky, and percussionist Benjamin Cornavaca.

“The opportunity that Carter Brey has provided to CMAK through the Chasing the Music event is a testament to his generosity and good intentions to support the work of the Foundation,” said Rebecca Kowalski. “Being able to include Newtown students in the event and expose them to these masters of music that will perform is an honor.”

Click here for more information on the event and the foundation.

VIDEO: Brey & Bartlett: Alternating Cellos, 02/19/2014

During some down time before a performance in Taipei, Taiwan, the final concert on the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour, Principal Cello Carter Brey and fellow New York Philharmonic cellist Eric Bartlett devise a clever way to divide the labor of playing Brahms's Symphony No. 2. Check back tomorrow for our final tour slideshow. (Video: Chris Lee)

VIDEO: Musicians' Picks as Highlights of the Tour, 05/17/2013

In Vienna, following the final concert of the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour, New York Philharmonic musicians answer tour photographer and videographer Chris Lee’s question, “What was a highlight of the tour for you?” Hear the responses of Assistant Principal Viola Irene Breslaw, Principal Cello Carter Brey, cellist Eric Bartlett, The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse, and bassist Blake Hinson.

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