The Orchestra Now begins new year at Bard’s Fisher Center with performances of “Stephanie Blythe Sings Brahms” February 3–4, 2024
Concerts Continue Through May 5 with Four Programs and Seven Performances Including a Carnegie Hall Preview Concert Featuring the U.S. Premiere of a Work by Eugène Ysaÿe, and a Free Concert at Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, January 12, 2024 — The Orchestra Now (TŌN), the visionary orchestra and master’s degree program founded by Bard College president, conductor, educator, and music historian Leon Botstein, returns from the holidays to launch its 2024 winter/spring season at Bard’s Fisher Center with a concert featuring Metropolitan Opera star Stephanie Blythe in an all-Brahms program. The performance also features tenor Joshua Blue.
TŌN’s season highlights at Bard’s Fisher Center span six performances of three different programs, including a Carnegie Hall preview concert offering the U.S. premiere of a recently discovered violin concerto by famed Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe (May 4-5); and a spring-themed program with Beethoven’s 6th Symphony and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (April 6-7). All of TŌN’s Fisher Centerprograms will be livestreamed on TŌNtube at ton.bard.edu/tontube.
Also this season,TŌN offers a free concert of works by Korngold, Schumann, Larry Wallach (world premiere), and Ernő Dohnányi led by TŌN assistant conductor Andrés Rivas at Bard College at Simon’s Rock (March 3).
Tickets: Priced at $15–$35 are available online at fishercenter.bard.edu, or by calling the Fisher Center at 845.758.7900. Patrons can RSVP for the free concert at Simon’s Rock at ton.bard.edu/events/schumann.
THE FISHER CENTER SERIES AT BARD, Sosnoff Theater
Stephanie Blythe Sings Brahms
Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 7 PM
Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 3 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Joshua Blue, tenor
Bard Festival Chorale
James Bagwell, choral director
Rinaldo, Op. 50
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Award-winning Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, artistic director of Bard Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, joins TŌN for an all-Brahms concert. She performs his Alto Rhapsody, based on a Goethe poem and composed as a wedding gift for the daughter of Robert and Clara Schumann, whom Brahms greatly admired. The program also features tenor Joshua Blue in the cantata Rinaldo, inspired by another Goethe poem about a knight enchanted by a cunning sorceress. Blue recently appeared as Tamino in the Met’s 2023 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The performance concludes with Brahms’ First Symphony, over which the composer toiled for 14 years before its debut.
Beethoven’s 6th & The Rite of Spring
Saturday, April 6, 2024 at 7 PM
Sunday, April 7, 2024 at 2 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Musicians from the Bard College Conservatory Orchestra
Egon Wellesz: Vorfrühling (The Dawn of Spring)
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, Pastoral
Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
TŌN welcomes spring with three musical tributes to the vernal equinox. Egon Wellesz’s 1911 The Dawn of Spring combines Viennese musical tradition with French expressionism, while Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring sent audience members into a riot with what Paris newspapers promised would be “the most astonishing polyrhythm ever to come from the mind of a musician.” Stravinsky’s work is performed by TŌN alongside members of the Bard College Conservatory Orchestra. The program also includes Beethoven’s lush Pastoral Sixth Symphony, echoing the composer’s love of nature.
Violinist as Composer, A Carnegie Hall Preview Concert
Saturday, May 4, 2024 at 7 PM
Sunday, May 5, 2024 at 2 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, violin
Grażyna Bacewicz: Partita for Orchestra
Joseph Joachim: Variations for Violin and Orchestra in E minor
Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Concerto in D minor (U.S. Premiere)
George Enescu: Symphony No. 2 in A Major, Op. 17
Leon Botstein spotlights four European virtuoso violinists who were also major composers in their respective countries, but not well-known today. The program features the U.S. premiere of a recently discovered concerto by famed Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe, Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz’s contemplative Partita for Orchestra, and the passionate Second Symphony of Romanian composer George Enescu. The evening also includes Hungarian composer Joseph Joachim’s virtuosic Variations for Violin and Orchestra, which was last performed in New York in 1894. The Ysaÿe and Joachim works will each feature internationally acclaimed Russian violinist Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, winner of both the Jean Sibelius and Fritz Kreisler Violin Competitions.
TŌN performs this concert at Carnegie Hall on May 8.
Schumann’s Piano Concerto
Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 3 PM
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Andrés Rivas, conductor
Yilin Li, piano
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Schauspiel (Dramatic) Overture, Op. 4
Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Larry Wallach Species of Motion (World Premiere)
Ernő Dohnányi Symphonic Minutes, Op. 36
TŌN Assistant Conductor Andrés Rivas returns to Simon’s Rock for a program that includes the world premiere of Species of Motion by retiring music department chair Larry Wallach. The afternoon also includes a performance of Schumann’s only symphonic Piano Concerto, premiered by his wife Clara in 1845 and performed at this concert by Yilin Li, a winner of the 2022 Bard Conservatory Concerto Competition.
The Orchestra Now
The Orchestra Now (TŌN) currently comprises 60 vibrant young musicians from 13 different countries across the globe: Austria, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. All share a mission to make orchestral music relevant to 21st-century audiences by sharing their unique personal insights in a welcoming environment. Hand-picked from the world’s leading conservatories—including the Yale School of Music, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Royal Academy of Music, and the New England Conservatory of Music—the members of TŌN are enlightening curious minds by giving on-stage introductions and demonstrations, writing concert notes from the musicians’ perspective, and having one-on-one discussions with patrons during intermissions.
Conductor, educator, and music historian Leon Botstein, whom The New York Times said “draws rich, expressive playing from the orchestra,” founded TŌN in 2015 as a graduate program at Bard College, where he is also president. TŌN offers both a three-year master’s degree in Curatorial, Critical, and Performance Studies and a two-year advanced certificate in Orchestra Studies. The Orchestra’s home base is the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center at Bard, where it performs multiple concerts each season and takes part in the annual Bard Music Festival. It also performs regularly at the finest venues in New York, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others across NYC and beyond. HuffPost, who has called TŌN’s performances “dramatic and intense,” praises these concerts as “an opportunity to see talented musicians early in their careers.”
The Orchestra has performed with many distinguished guest conductors and soloists, including Leonard Slatkin, Neeme Järvi, Gil Shaham, Fabio Luisi, Vadim Repin, Hans Graf, Peter Serkin, Gerard Schwarz, Tan Dun, and JoAnn Falletta. Recordings featuring The Orchestra Now include two albums of piano concertos with Piers Lane on Hyperion Records, and a Sorel Classics concert recording of pianist Anna Shelest performing works by Anton Rubinstein with TŌN and conductor Neeme Järvi. Buried Alive with baritone Michael Nagy, released on Bridge Records in August 2020, includes the first recording in almost 60 years—and only the second recording ever—of Othmar Schoeck’s song-cycle Lebendig begraben. Recent releases include Classics of American Romanticism—featuring the first-ever complete recording of Bristow’s Arcadian Symphony—and an album of piano concertos with Orion Weiss, both on Bridge Records, and the soundtrack to the motion picture Forte. Recordings of TŌN’s live concerts from the Fisher Center can be heard on Classical WMHT-FM and WWFM The Classical Network, and are featured regularly on Performance Today, broadcast nationwide.
Leon Botstein is founder and music director of The Orchestra Now (TŌN), music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO), artistic codirector of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, and conductor laureate and principal guest conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO), where he served as music director from 2003 to 2011. He has been guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre, Russian National Orchestra in Moscow, Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Taipei Symphony, Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas in Venezuela, among others. In 2018, he assumed artistic directorship of Campus Grafenegg and Grafenegg Academy in Austria.
Recordings include acclaimed recordings of Othmar Schoeck’s Lebendig begraben with TŌN, Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner with the ASO, a Grammy-nominated recording of Popov’s First Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra, and other various recordings with TŌN, ASO, the London Philharmonic, NDR Orchestra Hamburg, and JSO, among others. He is editor of The Musical Quarterly and author of numerous articles and books, including The Compleat Brahms (Norton), Jefferson’s Children (Doubleday), Judentum und Modernität (Bölau), and Von Beethoven zu Berg (Zsolnay). Honors include Harvard University’s prestigious Centennial Award; the American Academy of Arts and Letters award; and Cross of Honor, First Class, from the government of Austria, for his contributions to music. Other distinctions include the Bruckner Society’s Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor for his interpretations of that composer’s music, the Leonard Bernstein Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, and Carnegie Foundation’s Academic Leadership Award. In 2011, he was inducted into the American Philosophical Society.
For upcoming activities and more detailed information about the musicians, visit ton.bard.edu.
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