Music director Lorin Maazel, president Zarin Mehta, and chairman Paul Guenther announced the orchestra's plans at a press conference at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall today.
Harbison's Milosz Songs for Soprano and Orchestra is set to poetry by the Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, who died last year. The world premiere, scheduled for February 23, 2006, will feature soprano Dawn Upshaw and will be conducted by Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony. Maazel will conduct the debut on May 24 of Lieberson's The World in Flower, which will feature the composer's spouse, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson; bass-baritone Gerald Finley; and the New York Choral Artists.
Details of the tour, scheduled for September 1-13 and November 10-20, have not yet been released, but it will include a stop in Dresden, Maazel said, where he and the orchestra will perform the world premiere of Colin Matthew's Berceuse for Dresden. The work, which will receive its American premiere from the Philharmonic on November 25, commemorates the firebombing that destroyed the German city during World War II.
"It was just an act of vengence," Maazel said of the Allied bombing. "Such acts are barbaric. It is something that we all have to learn from."
Maazel will conduct 13 of the Philharmonic's 32 weeks of concerts, starting with the orchestra's opening-night gala, featuring pianist Evgeny Kissen, on September 21. He will also lead the Philharmonic's New Year's Eve Gala, an "evening of Italian opera" starring soprano Angela Gheorghiu in her Philharmonic debut. Both galas will be broadcast nationally on the PBS program Live From Lincoln Center.
The Philharmonic will also be heard across the country in the second season of its weekly radio series syndicated by Chicago's WFMT. Locally, the program can be heard on 96.3 FM WQXR on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
The Philharmonic's celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, to run from January 28 through February 14, 2006, will include five symphonies, the "Coronation" Mass, and two piano concertos, led from the piano by Jeffrey Kahane.
The Philharmonic will introduce two hosted concert series next season, each including the performance of one work and a discussion. One will be led by composer Steven Stucky, and will examine the new works by Corigliano, Harbison, and Lieberson. The other will feature such canonical pieces as Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique; the host will be Peter Schickele, the musicologist, composer, radio personality, and "discoverer" of the fictional works of P. D. Q. Bach.
Other highlights of the season include the New York premiere of John Corigliano's Red Violin Violin Concerto, the latest in a series of pieces that the composer has extracted from his score for the 1999 film. Violinist Joshua Bell, who performed on the film's soundtrack, is the soloist. The orchestra will perform four works by Elliott Carter over the course of the season, three of them conducted by Maazel. ("I wish we could perform all of them," Maazel said to the 96-year-old composer, who was seated in the front row.)
Among the guest conductors on the schedule are former music director Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, Mstislav Rostropovich, Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnšnyi, Marin Alsop, and Rafael Fr‹beck de Burgos, leading the Philharmonic for the first time since 1970. Soloists include violinists Sarah Chang, Midori, Gil Shaham, and Maxim Vengerov; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; and pianists Lang Lang, Mitsuko Uchida, and Andr_ Watts.
In future seasons, Maazel said, he hopes to lead the Philharmonic in operas in concert, a practice he said "brings a singing quality" to a conductor's symphonic work. "We have a plot going," he added, to perform Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilges.
In a typical moment of frankness, Maazel said that commissioning new works is a gamble. "If we lose a few along the way, you can't fault us for having tried," he said. Asked to elaborate, he would only name commissions that he considers successes, including John Adams' September 11 memorial The Transmigration of Souls and Rodion Shchedrin's The Enchanted Wanderer.