The New York Philharmonic announced its upcoming 2012-13 season during a live Webcast from The Greene Space at WQXR Wednesday morning hosted by music director Alan Gilbert, who said the goal of the programming was to be passionate, tell a story and illuminate the pieces.
"We want every evening to feel like an event," Gilbert said, sitting next to retiring executive director Zarin Mehta, who be succeeded by Matthew VanBesien in September.
The season includes several world and U.S. premieres, a new composer- and artist-in-residence, a jazz-influenced program, the complete symphonies and concertos of Brahms, a Bach festival and even some puppets.
Gilbert opens the Philharmonic’s next season with works by György Kurtág, Beethoven and Stravinsky (Sept. 19-22). Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes begins the evening with Kurtág’s … quasi una fantasia …, a 1988 spatial work for piano and smaller ensemble, which he follows with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Rounding out the program is Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. This will be Gilbert’s first time leading the orchestra is this ballet score.
The Opening Gala — oddly following the season-opening subscription concerts — features Itzhak Perlman performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on Sept. 27.
Joining Gilbert to highlight the upcoming season on Wednesday was Edward Yim, artistic administrator for the Philharmonic. The two then introduced Christopher Rouse, who will begin a two-year Composer-in-Residence term; he is the second composer to hold this title.
"The position of composer-in-residence has been a real crucial one," said Gilbert, noting the strong relationship built between the orchestra, audience and former composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg. "The residence part of this notion has been really important."
Rouse, known for his loud orchestrations, will present three works with the NY Phil this season: In June the reprise of Seeing for Piano and Orchestra, performed by Emanuel Ax, for whom it was written; Phantasmata (Feb. 21-22, 2013); and a world premiere and New York Philharmonic Commission in April 2013. Rouse will also advise on CONTACT!, the orchestra’s new-music series, which will take place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Peter Norton Symphony Space in December.
Later, when asked if more "loud" works were on the way, Rouse coyly answered: "Can a leopard change his spots?"
Pianist Emanuel Ax will be the 2012-13 artist-in-residence. Ax is only the fourth musician to hold this title. He kicks off his residency with concertos by Bach and Schoenberg in October.
"This will be very special," said Ax, via Skype before rushing off to a rehearsal with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
"Bach is terrifying and exciting at the same time," Ax said, noting he's never played a Bach concerto before.
Other highlights include the complete symphonies and concertos as well as chamber works of Brahms performed throughout the season; and the world premiere of a song cycle by the Swedish composer Anders Hillborg, a New York Philharmonic co-commission with Carnegie Hall and performed by soprano Renée Fleming on April 26, 2013. Earlier that same month (April 17-20), Gilbert will lead a program that features three iconic American composers: Charles Ives' Fourth Symphony, Leonard Bernstein's Serenade and the Rouse commission.
Ives' Fourth Symphony, which the orchestra performed in May 2004, is "the first piece that I've consciously thought, 'let's do it again,'" said Gilbert. "It's one of the great 20th century masterpieces."
Notoriously difficult to conduct, Gilbert said it is a piece better told with two conductors and that's how it will be performed (conductor TBA).
Also in the spring of 2013 the New York Phil will present The Bach Variations: A Philharmonic Festival (March 6-April 6, 2013), a collection of four programs each led by a different conductor: Gilbert, Masaaki Suzuki, Bernard Labadie and András Schiff. There will also be related events held in collaboration with the 92nd Street Y.
Unlike festivals in the past where there was only one conductor, having different conductors will allow each to put his own stamp on the composer's work, explained Yim.
"I've always said Bach is a composer that can withstand interpretation," added Gilbert.
Gilbert’s final four weeks of the season will feature a variety of programs, among them, “Gilbert’s Playlist,” intended to showcase many of the themes and ideas of the music director’s tenure, including a jazz-influenced program featuring trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3) with Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (May 30, 2013).
The season ends as it began — with Stravinsky. Following successful collaborations with director/designer Doug Fitch, he returns to bring Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka to life through live animation, video projection, puppets and dancers (June 27–29, 2013).