Alan Gilbert: from NYC to Shanghai with New York Phil; Mostly Mozart debut; Santa Fe residency

1st June 2015

Alan Gilbert – recently recognized with a Foreign Policy Association Medalfor his extraordinary commitment to cultural diplomacy – completes his sixth season at the helm of the New York Philharmonic with this week’s U.S. premiere of director Côme de Bellescize’s staging of Joan of Arc at the Stake, which stars Academy Award-winner Marion Cotillard (June 10–13). Next, he and the orchestra toast the summer with a trio of free concerts under the stars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Philharmonic’s historic Concerts in the Parks (June 17–24), using the same program as the centerpiece of their upcoming residencies at Colorado’s Bravo! Vail (July 24–31), Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West (Aug 1–8), and in Shanghai, China (July 4–10). Gilbert also makes his Mostly Mozart debut, leading the American stage premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin(Aug 11–15), and crowns an artistic residency at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival with an account of Messiaen’s epic and otherworldly Des canyons aux étoiles (Aug 23).

Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake, starring Marion Cotillard
A depiction of the French martyr’s final moments, Joan of Arc at the Stake is, Gilbert believes, “probably Honegger’s greatest work.” In the hands of award-winning French director Côme de Bellescize, the dramatic oratorio places Joan on a platform at the heart of the orchestra, where she recalls her life through a series of flashbacks. French movie icon Marion Cotillard, who considers the role “one of my greatest experiences as an actress,” was pronounced “captivating” (Public magazine, France) as Joan when she toured France with the production; under Gilbert’s leadership with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, she heads a strong cast that includes members of the Comédie-Francaise.

Celebrating 50 years of New York Philharmonic’s free Concerts in the Parks 
Since its introduction in 1965, the Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks series has attracted more than 14 million concertgoers. To celebrate this year’s milestone anniversary, Gilbert and the orchestra offer a selection of upbeat homegrown favorites: Barber’s The School for Scandal Overture, Gershwin’s Lullaby, Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, Leroy Anderson’s Fiddle-Faddle, Rodgers’s The Carousel Waltz, Sousa’s The Washington Post, and the suite from Bernstein’s West Side Story. At the Great Lawn in Manhattan’s Central Park, this last will be heard in William Brohn’s arrangement, with superstar violinist Joshua Bell (June 17). By contrast, in Cunningham Park, Queens (June 22) and Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx (June 23), Naumburg International Vocal Competition-winning soprano Julia Bullock will sing Maria, opposite the Tony of tenor Ben Bliss. “I grew up with the parks concerts and have sensed from both sides – the audience and the stage – how powerful a force it is in New York City’s life,” Gilbert says.

New York Philharmonic residencies: Shanghai, Music Academy of the West, and Bravo! Vail 
Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic’s commitment to the younger generation and global relationships has resulted in two innovative partnerships; both are part of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, customized collaborations with partners worldwide that offer intensive training of pre-professional musicians by New York Philharmonic members, often, as in these instances, alongside regular performance residencies by the full orchestra. As part of the four-year Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Residency Partnership, a collaboration with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Conservatory of Music, he and the Philharmonic undertake their first Shanghai performance residency this summer. They reunite with Joshua Bell for two encores of their all-American program (July 4 & 6); join Emanuel Ax for Mozart’s 14th Piano Concerto, alongside Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (July 10); and celebrate music composed in, or inspired by, their native city, in a Young People’s Concert titled “Journey to New York” (July 9).

Similarly, last summer the Philharmonic launched the nation’s first training program of its kind with Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West. Now Gilbert and the orchestra embark on their first performance residency at the Academy, rejoining Julia Bullock and Ben Bliss for a reprise of their American program (Aug 3). As one of the Academy’s three inaugural Luria Foundation Artists in Residence, Gilbert also teaches a solo piano masterclass earlier that day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “Gilbert has a devotion to young players, … and he has made the New York Philharmonic’s educational activities a priority.”

He and the orchestra enjoy a partnership of longer standing with Colorado’s Bravo! Vail, to which they return for their 13th annual residency this summer. Besides their all-American program, again with Julia Bullock and Ben Bliss(July 30), Gilbert leads a coupling of Mahler’s Fifth and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, with Midori as soloist (July 29). Then, to conclude the residency, he pairs Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola, featuring Philharmonic Acting Concertmaster Sheryl Staples and Philharmonic Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps as soloists, with his “wrenching, blazing and vehement” (New York Times) account of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony (July 31).

Making Mostly Mozart debut with U.S. stage premiere of Written on Skin
Back at New York’s Lincoln Center, Gilbert makes his Mostly Mozart festival debut with the American production premiere of Written on Skin (Aug 11, 13 & 15). It’s the first presentation in the new Lincoln Center-New York Philharmonic Opera Initiative, which will present fully staged productions of significant modern operas never before seen in New York. A critical sensation since it bowed in Aix-en-Provence three years ago, George Benjamin’s opera – the retelling of a 13th-century southern French ballad – has been hailed as “a work of genius unleashed” (New Yorker). At Mostly Mozart, it will be presented in the Katie Mitchell production that, at London’s Royal Opera House, impressed the Telegraph as “immaculately choreographed and imaginatively sensitive to the opera’s implications and mood.” Gilbert will conduct the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, for whom Written on Skin was composed, with a dream cast anchored by Christopher Purves, Barbara Hannigan, and Victoria Simmonds, all of whom proved “flawless” (Telegraph) at Covent Garden. No stranger to contemporary opera himself, it was Gilbert who led the East-Coast premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, when the New York Times observed: “The performance he draws from the Met orchestra and chorus is a revelation.”

Artist-in-Residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Gilbert has deep ties to Santa Fe. Like both his parents, he played in the Santa Fe Opera orchestra, where he served as assistant concertmaster, before becoming the company’s first music director in 2003. His is also a favorite guest at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; three years ago, when he helped celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Santa Fe Reporter noted: “For the near-capacity audience, it was love at first hearing. But the grinning, foot-stamping ovation his 16 musicians gave Gilbert? That was the tribute to remember.” Now the conductor returns as this year’s Artist-in-Residence, leading Mozart’s “Gran Partita” wind serenade (Aug 22) and conducting 43 musicians – the largest ensemble ever gathered at the festival for a single work – in a performance of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles (From the Canyons to the Stars) the following night. Inspired by Utah’s Bryce Canyon, the French composer’s twelve-movement masterpiece draws on a characteristic mix of birdsong, modernist experimentalism, and religious mysticism. Gilbert has long championed Messiaen’s music, notably programming the song cycle Poèmes pour Mi for the first concerts of his directorship of the New York Philharmonic.

A list of Alan Gilbert’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information may be found at his website: www.alangilbert.com. For high-resolution photos, click here.

Alan Gilbert: upcoming engagements

June 10, 11, 12, 13
New York Philharmonic
Avery Fisher Hall
Honegger: Joan of Arc at the Stake (staged) (U.S. Premiere of Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto production under Seiji Ozawa; Producer Vony Sarfati, Vocaly Inc in agreement with the Productions Internationales Albert Sarfati) 
Côme de Bellescize, director
Blanche D’Harcourt, artistic advisor
Jane Piot, assistant director
Sigolène de Chassy, set designer
Thomas Costerg, lighting designer
Colombe Lauriot Prévost, costume designer
Marion Cotillard, actress (Joan)
Éric Génovèse, actor, Sociétaire de la Comédie-Francaise (Brother Dominique)
Christian Gonon, actor, Sociétaire de la Comédie-Francaise (Narrator)
Erin Morley, soprano (Virgin)
Simone Osborne, soprano (Marguerite)
Faith Sherman, mezzo-soprano (Catherine)
Thomas Blondelle, tenor
Steven Humes, bass
New York Choral Artists, director Joseph Flummerfelt
Brooklyn Youth Chorus, director Dianne Berkun-Menaker
Pierre Vallet, chorus master
Dan Saunders, musical preparation

June 17–24
New York Philharmonic
Concerts in the Parks (50th anniversary season)
Central Park, New York, NY (June 17)
Cunningham Park, Queens, NY (June 22)
Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, NY (June 23)
Barber: The School for Scandal Overture
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Anderson: Fiddle-Faddle
Rodgers: The Carousel Waltz
June 17: Bernstein/arr. Brohn: West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra (with Joshua Bell, violin)
June 22 & 23: Bernstein: West Side Story Concert Suite No. 1 (with Julia Bullock, soprano; Ben Bliss, tenor)
Gershwin: Lullaby for String Orchestra
Sousa: The Washington Post

July 4 & 6
New York Philharmonic
Shanghai, China
Shanghai Symphony Hall (July 4)
Shanghai Poly Grand Theatre (July 6)
Barber: The School for Scandal Overture
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Anderson: Fiddle-Faddle
Rodgers: The Carousel Waltz
Bernstein/arr. Brohn: West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra (with Joshua Bell, violin)
Gershwin: Lullaby for String Orchestra
Sousa: The Washington Post

July 9
New York Philharmonic
Shanghai, China
Shanghai Symphony Hall
Young People’s Concert: “Journey to New York”
Dvorak: Selection from Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”
Bernstein: “The Great Lover” from On the Town
Karen LeFrak: A Bite of the Apple (with video)
Bernstein: “Lonely Town” from On the Town
Hawa Sakho: New York: In Town and Out
Liao Shuwen: Shadow of the Wolf
Bernstein: “Times Square: 1944” from On the Town

July 10
New York Philharmonic
Shanghai, China
Shanghai Symphony Hall
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 14 (with Emanuel Ax, piano)
Mahler: Symphony No. 5

July 29
New York Philharmonic
Vail, Colorado
Bravo! Vail
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto (with Midori, violin)
Mahler: Symphony No. 5

July 30
New York Philharmonic
Vail, Colorado
Bravo! Vail
Barber: The School for Scandal Overture
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Anderson: Fiddle-Faddle
Rodgers: The Carousel Waltz
Bernstein: West Side Story Concert Suite No. 1 (with Julia Bullock, soprano; Ben Bliss, tenor)
Gershwin: Lullaby
Sousa: The Washington Post

July 31
New York Philharmonic
Vail, Colorado
Bravo! Vail
Mozart: Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola (with Sheryl Staples, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola) Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10

Aug 3
Santa Barbara, California
Music Academy of The West
Luria Foundation Artist in Residence
Solo piano masterclass

Aug 3
New York Philharmonic
Santa Barbara, California
Music Academy of The West

Barber: The School for Scandal Overture
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Anderson: Fiddle-Faddle
Rodgers: The Carousel Waltz
Bernstein: West Side Story Concert Suite No. 1 (with Julia Bullock, soprano; Ben Bliss, tenor)
Gershwin: Lullaby
Sousa: The Washington Post

Aug 11, 13, 15
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
New York, NY
Mostly Mozart Festival
David H. Koch Theater
George Benjamin: Written on Skin
Martin Crimp, librettist
Katie Mitchell, director
Christopher Purves, The Protector
Barbara Hannigan, Agnès
Tim Mead, Angel 1/The Boy
Victoria Simmonds, Angel 2/Marie
Robert Murray, Angel 3/John
Part of the Lincoln Center–New York Philharmonic Opera Initiative

Aug 22 & 23

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Festival Artists-in-Residence
Aug 22: Mozart: Serenade in B-Flat No. 10 for Winds, “Gran Partita”
Aug 23: Messiaen: Des canyons aux étoiles (“From the Canyons to the Stars”)

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