6 Classical Themes and Composers To Watch This Fall

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

WQXR
Simon Rattle, Kaija Saariaho and Donald Trump are all figures whose presence will be felt in concert halls this fall. Simon Rattle, Kaija Saariaho and Donald Trump are all figures whose presence will be felt in concert halls this fall. (Courtesy of the Berlin Philharmonic/Priska Ketterer/Gage Skidmore)

From notable figures to resonant topics, here are a half dozen themes to watch for this fall.

Kaija Saariaho
The grand dame of Finnish composers is about to have a New York moment. Her opera, L’Amour de Loin, will have its New York premiere at the Metropolitan Opera — the second opera written by a woman to be performed at the house — in a star-studded Robert LePage production this December. In October, her fellow Finn Esa-Pekka Salonen, will lead the New York Philharmonic in her immersive Circle Map at the Park Avenue Armory. In addition, the Mannes School of Music will present the chamber verion of Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone, and Juilliard’s Axiom include her in an evening of Finnish music. Prepare for the composer’s works by listening to her episode of Meet the Composer:

Simon Rattle
The maestro is about to trade in his position at the Berlin Philharmonic for the top spot at the London Symphony Orchestra, but he’ll be spending a significant portion of his time in New York this fall. Before he opens the Metropolitan Opera’s season with a new production of Tristan and Isolde, he’ll be leading Orchestra of St. Luke's in Fauré’s Requiem at St. Thomas Church on September 18th. He’ll be at Carnegie Hall, where he is in his second of his two-year Perspectives project. At Carnegie, Sir Simon will lead Juilliard’s Ensemble ACJW and tenor Marc Padmore in Hans Zender’s arrangement of Schubert’s Winterreise on Oct. 16, and The Berlin Philharmonic joins him on Nov. 10 for one of his final appearances as conductor of the ensemble. (WQXR will broadcast the Berlin Philharmonic concert as part of our Carnegie Hall Live series.)

Steve Reich at 80
Reich, who helped foment the downtown sound in the 1960s turns 80 this year and celebrations throughout the fall are abundant. Miller Theater will devotes its opening night on Sept. 15 to the composer. A birthday party on Nov. 1 at Carnegie Hall features his video opera Three Tales, which was created with the filmmaker Beryl Korot. And on Dec. 10 the Ghanian drummer Gideon Alorwoyie, who inspired Reich’s seminal Drumming, will perform excerpts from the work at National Sawdust. And if you can’t make it to any of these, an app from Third Coast Percussion explores the Music of Steve Reich, allowing users to play with his compositional techniques.

Globe Trotting
Sounds from across the world will be imported to New York City through the autumn: choreographer Mark Morris is curating an exploration of the music of India during Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival; the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel will bring music by South American composers Heitor Villa-Lobos and Juan Carlos Nuñez at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 7; and New York City Opera, which adopted an initiative to present Spanish-language programs, will present the first of its Pasión Latina concerts on Oct. 26.

Sacred Music and Sacred Spaces
In addition to the high quality regularly scheduled performances in New York’s places of worship, this season brings about several noteworthy one-offs in sacred venues. Simon Rattle will lead the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Faure’s Requiem at St. Thomas Church on Sept. 18. The While Light Festival presents a Human Requiem with the Berlin Radio Choir and Simon Halsey, in addition to the program “Immortal Bach.” Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a quartet of programs that delve into the nature of spirituality: Mahammed Fairouz’s new oratorio, Al-Quds, pegged to a show about Jerusalem (Dec. 9); John Luther Adams’s Canticles of the Holy Wind (Oct. 29); Arvo Pärt’s Canon of Repentance in the Temple of Dendur (Nov. 19); and David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion (Dec.20).

Presidential Matters
With the 2016 presidential election in high gear through the fall, many upcoming performances reflect current events. Victoria Bond’s Mrs. President, The Opera, about the first woman to run for president almost 150 years ago, will be performed in part at the National Opera Center (Oct. 28). And Gene Pritsker’s TRUMP — A Theatrical Concerto featuring violinist Philippe Quint offers a 45-minute exploration into the mind of the Republican nominee at Le Poisson Rouge (Nov. 8).

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