Summer rewards us with warm days and nights that invite us to be festive and casual. And while the lazy days of summer bring the end of the Philharmonic's subscription season, the music doesn't stop as the temperatures rise. This summer the Orchestra celebrates the season with the sounds of great music at Avery Fisher Hall; throughout New York City and its environs; at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in the Colorado Rockies; and in the Catskills, where it will inaugurate a brand-new cultural center.
The summer season gets a lighthearted launch at Avery Fisher Hall when conductor Bramwell Tovey returns for the convivial Summertime Classics series (June 29-July 8), comprising three programs, including one of American music and another of Russian works. Maestro Tovey will once again charm the audience with his humorous insights into the programs, which include works by Borodin, Bernstein, Ravel, Rossini, and John Philip Sousa. The four soloists (all pianists) are making their Philharmonic debuts: Alexander Kobrin will play the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto; Marcus Roberts will perform one of his specialties, a jazz-inflected Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin; and Benjamin Hochman and Orion Weiss will join the Orchestra for Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals, which the conductor will narrate, using the witty Ogden Nash text.
On July 1 the Philharmonic and Bramwell Tovey head to upstate New York, where they will be joined by two musical headliners‹pianist Lang Lang and soprano Audra McDonald‹for the gala opening concert of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, built on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Works by Gershwin, Borodin, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky will be followed by Grucci fireworks. "We are delighted to help inaugurate this new performing arts center," says Philharmonic President and Executive Director Zarin Mehta. "It is a spectacularly beautiful setting‹a perfect backdrop for listening to music under the stars."
Of course, it wouldn't be summer in the city without the New York Philharmonic's Concerts in the Parks, now in its 42nd season. This year, Time Warner and CIT present eight free concerts (July 10-18) at venues in the five boroughs, as well as New Jersey and Long Island (see page 60 for schedule). Philharmonic Associate Conductor Xian Zhang and Marin Alsop will lead three different programs highlighted by Dvorák and Beethoven symphonies, among other beloved works. Making their debuts are Jennifer Koh, in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and Leila Josefowicz, playing Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto.
Only a few days later the Philharmonic musicians will pack their bags and head to Colorado for the Orchestra's fourth annual residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival (July 21-28), where they will be joined by all the artists who performed with them in New York City's parks. The other headliners will be Jonathan Biss (performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4), Jean-Yves Thibaudet (in Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major), and Yuja Wang (playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 for her Philharmonic debut). For the western audiences, the multifaceted Tovey will don yet another hat:in addition to conducting, he will double as soloist in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
From city skylines to western vistas, from lighthearted fare to somber masterpieces, with returning friends and fresh new talent, it will be another Philharmonic summer to savor and remember!
New York-based Margaret Shakespeare writes frequently about music.