Press Releases

The Orchestra Now opens 2023–24 season of its “Sight & Sound” series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art with “Copland, Culture & Politics in the 1930s”

New York, NY, October 31, 2023 – Music Director Leon Botstein leads TŌN in the first of three concerts this season in its popular Sight & Sound series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday, December 3 at 2 PM. The program surveys works by Aaron Copland written in the 1930s, a time of political and social turmoil in the United States. Throughout the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, art and music mirrored the struggling nation’s search for hope, expressing the struggle of the era’s marginalized masses.

Conductor and music historian Leon Botstein explores the parallels between orchestral music and the visual arts for all Sight & Sound performances. 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.

TŌN’s next concert in Manhattan is Debussy & Matisse: Creating New Colors, with a focus on Debussy’s Images for Orchestra and artwork by Henri Matisse, demonstrating dramatic musical and visual changes in the early 20th century (March 10, 2024 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Copland, Culture & Politics in the 1930s
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 2 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Aaron Copland: Statements
Aaron Copland: Billy the Kid Suite
Artwork from the exhibition Art for the Millions: American Culture and Politics in the 1930s

Aaron Copland mixed everyday Americana tunes with classical music in an unprecedented way. His 1935 Statements, written when the composer was becoming more politically active, consists of six individualized short movements titled Militant, Cryptic, Dogmatic, Subjective, Jingo, and Prophetic. The first complete performance of all six statements was not heard until 1942, led by Dimitri Mitropoulos with the New York Philharmonic. Copland was asked by Lincoln Kirstein and Eugene Loring of Ballet Caravan to compose music for a cowboy ballet about Billy the Kid. The resulting work was inspired by western folk tunes. Using sections of the Ballet, Copland created the Suite, which is one of the composer’s most popular pieces. Both works earned him a reputation as the United States’ “populist” composer. 

Art for the Millions: American Culture and Politics in the 1930s is on view at The Met Fifth Avenue September 7–December 10, 2023 in galleries 691–693.

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) is a group of 60 vibrant young musicians from 13 different countries across the globe: Austria, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Hungary, Mongolia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, and Venezuela. 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, Joan Tower, Vadim Repin, Hans Graf, Peter Serkin, Naomi Woo, Gerard Schwarz, Tan Dun, and JoAnn Falletta. Among TŌN’s many recordings are albums featuring pianists Piers Lane, Anna Shelest, and Orion Weiss; Buried Alive with baritone Michael Nagy, which includes the first recording in almost 60 years—and only the second recording ever—of Othmar Schoeck’s song-cycle Lebendig begraben; Classics of American Romanticism, featuring the first-ever complete recording of Bristow’s Arcadian Symphony; 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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