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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Superconductor Preview: CXXV is the Magic Number

With numbers on the brain, Carnegie Hall unveils 2015-2016.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Now that's a super conductor: The enormous Sir Simon Rattle is one of three Perspectives artists at Carnegie Hall in 2015-2016.
Photo © 2014 EMI Classics/Berlin Philharmonic. Photo of Carnegie Hall from Wikemedia Commons.
Photoshop by the author.
In the psyche of 21st century Homo sapiens, the number 25 seems to be particularly important. Maybe it's because it's one fourth of 100, that magic and strangely satisfying number. Maybe because it's a square of 5 as in 5 x 5 = 25. This year, Carnegie Hall is celebrating the cube of 5, with the unveiling of its 125th anniversary season.

2015-2016 marks a year of change for Carnegie Hall. There's no "international festival" this season. The Debs Composer's Chair will be empty, or rather re-named the "Creative Chair" and occupied by the four members of the Kronos Quartet. Presumably they will take turns. Also there are three artists hosting their own Perspectives series: the British conductor Sir Simon Rattle, the pianist Evgeny Kissin and American roots-music superstar Roseanne Cash, who will curate a series devoted to roots music, up-and-comers and established artists.

This year also marks a new emphasis on new music, with Carnegie Hall commissioning 125 new works over the next five years. Composers so honored include John Adams, Aaron Jay Kernis, Richard Danielpour, Tan Dun, Kevin OPuts, Brad Mehldau and Matthew Aucoin. 36 commissioned works are featured in this year's schedule.

The Carnegie press kit is massive, so here are ten Superconductor-picked highlights to look forward to in 2015-2016:
  • October 7, 2015: The season opens with a visit from the New York Philharmonic, with a new fanfare by Magnus Lindberg and Mr. Kissin playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1.
  • Oct. 11: The Boston Symphony Orchestra offers a concert performance of Strauss' Elektra with Christine Goerke  in the title role, uinder new music director Andris Nelsons
  • Oct. 25: Violinist Gil Shaham unveils Six Solos, a performance of Bach's Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas with accompanying films by director David Michalek. This is a New York premiere of a Carnegie Hall co-commission.
  • Nov. 3: Mr. Kissin's Perspectives series kicks into gear with a survey of the music of Isaac Albéniz, Mozart and Brahms. On Dec. 16 the pianist leads a special evening of Jewish Music and Poetry.
  • Starting Nov. 13 Pianist Yefim Bronfman will play a complete cycle of Prokofiev piano sonatas, pitting his technique against the difficult works of the "pianist of steel." Concerts are scheduled throughout the season.
  • Nov. 17-21: Sir Simon Rattle leads the Berlin Philharmonic in a series of all nine Beethoven Symphonies.
  • Jan. 17, 2016: The Cleveland Orchestra will premiere another new Lindberg work, alongside Shostakovich's crucial Symphony No. 4. On Feb. 14, piano priestess Mitsuko Uchida conducts the Orchestra from the keyboard in Mozart. 
  • March 3: After a disastrous 2013 lockout, the Minnesota Orchestra returns to Carnegie Hall to play...what else...Sibelius, with violinist Hilary Hahn.
  • May 11: The Philadelphia Orchestra conclude their regular season visits to the Perelman stage with the full five-movement Deryck Cooke completion of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 10 under music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
  • May 26: The season ends with New York finally getting to hear how Christine Goerke sounds as Brunnhilde: she'll sing excerpts from Wagner's Ring Cycle with tenor Johan Botha, the MET Orchestra and music director James Levine.

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