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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!

New York Philharmonic To Premiere New Julia Adolphe Viola Concerto

Julia Adolphe NY Philharmonic

If the name Julia Adolphe rings a bell, it may be because the New York Philharmonic's performance of her "Dark Sand, Sifting Light" was a highlight of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL last spring. The New York Times Senior Music Critic Anthony Tommasini called it "a colorful, mercurial, deftly orchestrated piece."

Get ready to hear more from her: today it was announced that the Philharmonic will premiere a new viola concerto by Adolphe written for Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps in a future season to be announced at a later date.

Adolphe was a 2014 recipient of a commission as part of the initiative supporting women's composers supported by the League of American Orchestra and EarShot, the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network. Read more here.

N.Y. Times Taps Gilbert, Philharmonic, Phelps, McGill for 'Fantasy Festival'

New York Times NY Philharmonic Alan Gilbert 

The New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert feature prominently in New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini's "fantasy music festival" of 20th Century American works, which he describes in a fascinating article in today's paper titled "They Heard America Playing: Copland, Thomson and Others in a Fantasy Music Festival." It's the latest piece in a series in which Times critics curate their personal fantasy art experiences.

For one program, I would draft Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic to perform symphonies and film scores by Copland and Thomson. The concert could open with Copland’s suite from “Our Town,” the wistfully beautiful score he composed for the classic 1940 film version of the Thornton Wilder play. This would be followed by Thomson’s Suite from “Louisiana Story,” little heard these days. Audiences would be swept away by the plaintive beauty and folkloric character of the music. ...

For the other symphonic program, I would again draft the Philharmonic but present the concert at Carnegie Hall and ask Marin Alsop to conduct. It would open with one of Piston’s smart, inventive Neo-Classical symphonies, perhaps the Second (1943) or the Sixth (1955), both of which I admire. I would couple a symphony with Piston’s remarkable 1957 Viola Concerto, with the Philharmonic’s superb principal violist, Cynthia Phelps, as soloist.

For a chamber-music concert, Tommasini picks incoming Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill to help play Roy Harris’s Concerto for String Quartet, Piano and Clarinet, "an inexplicably neglected work from the mid-1920s."

Triumphant Conclusion in Vienna

Alan Gilbert and the Orchestra conclude their three-concert stint at the Vienna Konzerthaus with works by The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse, Mozart, and Musorgsky. The performance brings the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour to a close, and the musicians head to New York to resume performing for their hometown audience.

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