Follow Us on Twitter

New York Philharmonic & Alan Gilbert set for Barbican residency (2012)

New York Philharmonic

Story by Jack Foley

THE New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert will enjoy an International Associate Residency at the Barbican in London from February 16 to 18, 2012.

The concert series will feature soloists Joyce DiDonato and Lang Lang, and a Young People’s Concert co-hosted by Jamie Bernstein.

In the first half of 2012, two of the Barbican’s International Associate ensembles come to the centre for residencies: the New York Philharmonic’s first residency takes place in February 2012, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam’s first residency follows in April–May 2012.

These residencies involve symphonic and chamber music concerts, family events, new commissions, and educational and outreach work.

They also allow the Barbican to take the music programme directly to communities in East London.

The New York Philharmonic and Music Director Alan Gilbert’s residency starts on February 16 with Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.

The Philharmonic, the oldest symphony orchestra of the United States, has a history of prestigious Music Directors including Boulez, Bernstein, Toscanini – and Gustav Mahler himself, who began his tenure in 1909.

One hundred years later Alan Gilbert became the first native New Yorker to be the orchestra’s Music Director.

The New York Philharmonic has always been a committed advocate of contemporary music and has premiered music by composers such as Dvořák, Rachmaninov, Gershwin, Copland and Stravinsky.

On February 17, the programme includes the UK premiere of Thomas Adès’ Polaris (co-commissioned by seven organisations, including the Barbican and the New York Philharmonic), which he wrote for the opening of Frank Gehry’s new concert hall in Miami.

The programme continues with Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite (No. 2), and Berlioz’ Les nuits d’été, featuring mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

On February 18, the Philharmonic presents the sights and sounds of New York through the eyes of its former Music Director and pioneering music educator Leonard Bernstein.

Bernstein’s legendary Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic stand out among his greatest achievements: he started the televised programmes in 1958, just two weeks after becoming Music Director, and continued them until 1972, even though he had stepped down from his post in 1969.

He led a total of 53 Young People’s Concerts in those fourteen years and covered a broad range of subjects: he explored the works of the great composers, explained the intricacies of music theory, and even broached complex aesthetic issues.

He often planned the programmes based on repertoire from the New York Philharmonic’s regular concert season and, as they were shown on CBS at primetime, they introduced an entire generation to classical music.

Jamie Bernstein, the conductor’s daughter, joins the Philharmonic on February 18 at the Barbican to co-host a Young People’s Concert at 4pm, with Music Director Alan Gilbert.

The concert is entitled Leonard Bernstein’s New York and features his Overture to West Side Story, Masque from Symphony No 2 ‘Age of Anxiety’ (with 19-year-old pianist Benjamin Grosvenor as soloist), Three Dance Episodes from On The Town, and Aaron Copland’s Skyline from Music for a Great City.

Before the Young People’s Concert in the Barbican Hall, the Barbican’s foyers will be transformed when the New York Philharmonic invites young people to meet the musicians, learn about their instruments and to create some music of their own.

Throughout the afternoon, musicians from the New York Philharmonic and Guildhall School of Music & Drama help families to try out instruments from all sections of the orchestra, and audiences will also have the chance to join drop-in workshops to create their own performances inspired by Central Park and the iconic Empire State Building.

These activities combine the Barbican’s Come & Play initiative with the New York Philharmonic’s Kidzone Live! programme.

In the lead-up to the Philharmonic’s residency at the Barbican, professional composers and musicians will work with young people aged 8-15 from across East London to create music.

Two models of composition are introduced to the children: the New York based Credit Suisse Very Young Composers programme, in which children compose their own pieces, which are then written down by Philharmonic Teaching Artists and performed by the professional musicians; and a creative, aural composition process (developed in the UK), in which children perform their own music from memory.

The results can be heard throughout the afternoon on the Barbican Freestages; young musicians perform their original works of music based on New York City, and a sextet of professional musicians performs a new work by budding composers.

Bringing together these two composition models also enables the Philharmonic and the Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning division to learn from each others’ practices.

Musicians from the Philharmonic will also participate in the Barbican’s Front Room Concerts, performing in small groups for residents of public housing estates in East London.

Throughout the residency, principal players of the orchestra also lead master classes for students of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The master classes are open to the public.

The residency ends with another stellar soloist performing with the New York Philharmonic on the evening of February 18: Lang Lang joins Alan Gilbert and the Orchestra for Bartók’s Piano Concerto No 2.

The programme also includes Feria by Magnus Lindberg, the Philharmonic’s Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No 5.

For complete listings of the New York Philharmonic residency and a podcast with Jamie Bernstein visit the Barbican website

Call the Box Office on 0845 120 7550.