Press Releases

The Orchestra Now Offers a Free Concert at Symphony Space on February 18, Plus “Debussy & Matisse: Creating New Colors”, at The Met Museum on March 10

New York, NY, January 24, 2024 The Orchestral Now begins its winter season in New York City with a return to Peter Norton Symphony Space in a free concert led by resident conductor Zachary Schwartzman. The program features upcoming young soloist Yangxin Song, a winner of the 2022 Bard Conservatory Concerto Competition, in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and includes Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas Overture and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 (February 18).

More music unfolds in March with the season’s second installment of the Orchestra’s popular Sight & Sound series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Debussy & Matisse: Creating New Colors explores how the venturesome stylings of Matisse and Debussy affected both the visual and musical art scene in the early 20th century. As in all Sight & Sound presentations, Bard College president, conductor, educator, and music historian Leon Botstein surveys the parallels between orchestral music and the visual arts. Each program is accompanied by on-screen artworks and musical excerpts performed by The Orchestra Now, followed by a full performance and audience Q&A (March 10).

The next TŌN performance in New York City will be William Grant Still & the Harlem Renaissance, examining Still’s Symphony No. 2, Song of a New Race at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 14, 2024.

Mendelssohn & Sibelius
Sunday, February 18, 2024 at 4 PM
Peter Norton Symphony Space
Zachary Schwartzman, conductor
Yangxin Song, violin
Felix Mendelssohn: Ruy Blas Overture, Op. 95
Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39
TŌN Resident Conductor Zachary Schwartzman leads the Orchestra in a free concert, presenting Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas Overture, the composer’s musical contribution to Victor Hugo’s 1838 five-act historical drama; and Prokofiev’s 1935 Violin Concerto No. 2, his last Western commission from the French violinist Robert Soëtens. The performance features soloist Yangxin Song, a winner of the 2022 Bard Conservatory Concerto Competition. The program closes with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1, his first numbered symphony, written at age 33.

Tickets: This concert is FREE, no tickets necessary, advance RSVP is requested.

Debussy & Matisse: Creating New Colors
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 2 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Claude Debussy: Images for Orchestra, L. 122
Artwork by Henri Matisse and others
Henri Matisse helped to revolutionize the visual arts in the first decades of the 20th century with daring experiments in a technicolor style that changed the course of French painting. In the same era, his compatriot Claude Debussy was rejecting classical German musical tradition, developing his own style of harmony and orchestral coloring that would strongly influence a wide range of composers for years to come. His expressive Images, which evokes English, Spanish, and French cultures, exemplifies the composer’s explorations in color and texture.

All Tickets, priced at $30–$50, include same-day museum admission and may be purchased online here, by calling The Met at 212.570.3949, or at The Great Hall box office at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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.

For upcoming activities and more detailed information about the musicians, visit

Leon Botstein
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. More info online at

Press Contacts
Pascal Nadon
Pascal Nadon Communications
Phone: 646.234.7088
Email: [email protected]

Mark Primoff
Associate Vice President of Communications
Bard College
Phone: 845.758.7412
Email: [email protected]        

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