Musically Speaking column: Looking forward, to the New York Philharmonic
Precision, power and soul — three words that aptly describe the New York Philharmonic. Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. Alan Gilbert became music director in September 2009, the latest in a line of 20th-century musical giants that includes Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein. The artistic and musical lineage of the New York Philharmonic is unmatched by any other orchestra, including those from all across Europe where our classical music art form originated.
Since its inception, the New York Philharmonic has championed the new music of its time, commissioning or premiering many important works, such as Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and Gershwin’s Concerto in F, in addition to many U.S. premieres.
It was with the appointment of Leonard Bernstein that the New York Philharmonic forged its uniquely American personality. A native New Yorker, Bernstein’s tenure as the Philharmonic’s music director signaled a new era of respect and acknowledgment for American conductors. Having an American on the podium was a major cultural victory for America, one that was celebrated around the world. And that tradition continues today with Alan Gilbert, also born in New York.
Precision: An orchestra of virtuosos, the Philharmonic plays with a technical ease and cleanliness for which it is known around the world. Power: Their virtuosity and a sheer force of sound is unmatched by almost any other ensemble and when the Philharmonic lets out all the stops, the effect is thrilling. Soul: an American openness of spirit characterizes the Philharmonic’s music making. Honest and direct, the New Yorkers have created a new way for all of us to experience music and in doing so, play a leading role in American musical life. Renowned around the globe, the Philharmonic has appeared in 432 cities in 63 countries.
At its July 19 Bravo! Vail opening concert at the Ford Amphitheater, principal cello Carter Brey performs Dvorak’s beloved Cello Concerto and Music Director Alan Gilbert ends this program with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, a triumph with audiences ever since its premiere.
On July 20, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos takes the conductor’s podium to lead Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique;” and violinist Augustin Hadelich returns after his triumphant 2010 Bravo! Vail debut performing Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole.
Gilbert returns on July 21, with New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow performing the solo violin lines written by Rimsky-Korsakov for his musical retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights, Scheherazade. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet also returns that night in Liszt’s Totentanz, based on the Gregorian chant Dies Irae, or “Day of Wrath.”
The New York Philharmonic’s first-ever Broadway Night is scheduled for July 24, featuring superb singers direct from The Great White Way.
On July 25, the inimitable Bramwell Tovey leads the New York Philharmonic in a program that features Four Dance Episodes from Copland’s ballet Rodeo, his own jazzy composition, The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret, featuring New York Philharmonic principal trombone, Joseph Alessi and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8.
The Philharmonic’s final concert at Bravo! Vail on July 26 offers English composer Gustav Holst’s The Planets, whose seven movements are named after the planets of our Solar System and their corresponding astrological characters. The Sibelius Violin Concerto is the centerpiece of this finale, performed by Gil Shaham, winner of Musical America’s 2012 Instrumentalist of the Year Award.
Jim Palermo is Bravo! Vail’s executive director. For more information, visit http://www.bravovail.org or call 970-827-5700.