Events & Tickets
NWS Encore: Sounds of America
On-demand streaming available until Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 PM ET
- Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
- Chad Goodman, conductor
- Teddy Abrams, conductor
- James Gaffigan, conductor
- John Wilson, piano
NWS is bringing the sounds of America right to your home. From Copland’s take on “Simple Gifts” to MTT’s own flirtatious jaunt for solo piano, these works feature NWS Fellows on stage at the New World Center and in performance with world-class conductors, including our own MTT!
NWS Encore concerts consist of performance highlights from NWS’s previous seasons. Current NWS subscribers at all three package levels may RSVP for this virtual concert by contacting the Box Office at email@example.com or 305.673.3331. Click here to learn how you can become an NWS subscriber!
Approx. Duration: 3 minutes
Approx. Duration: 11 minutes
Essay No. 2, Op. 17
Approx. Duration: 25 minutes
Suite from Appalachian Spring
(1943-44; 1945 orchestration)
Michael Tilson Thomas
You Come Here Often?
Approx. Duration: 12 minutes
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Approximate duration: 3 minutes
This brief one-movement work for string orchestra is a play on imagery of rapidly changing musical colors. Exploding gestures are juxtaposed with gentle fleeting melodies in an attempt to create a multidimensional soundscape. A common definition of a starburst: “the rapid formation of large numbers of new stars in a galaxy at a rate high enough to alter the structure of the galaxy significantly” lends itself almost literally to the nature of the performing ensemble who premiered the work, The Sphinx Virtuosi, and I wrote the piece with their dynamic in mind.
— Jessie Montgomery
Essay No. 2, Op. 17
Approximate duration: 11 minutes
Samuel Barber caught his big break in 1938, when Arturo Toscanini featured two works by the 28-year-old composer on a national radio broadcast. One was the Adagio for Strings, arranged from the slow movement of Barber’s First String Quartet; the other was a single-movement Essay for orchestra. Barber returned to the Essay genre twice more, using it to signify a compact orchestral composition, similar in scope to the written essay, and without the specific “storytelling” component of a tone poem.
Barber composed the Second Essay at the request of Bruno Walter, who conducted the premiere with the New York Philharmonic in 1942. “Although it has no program,” Barber later wrote of the work, “one perhaps hears that it was written in wartime.” The atmosphere of war is nowhere evident in the spacious melody that begins in the breathy lower range of the flute. Contrasting ideas that appear later, especially passages with prominent timpani drums, reveal the martial attitude that Barber hinted at. The musical language of the Second Essay shares certain traits with the Violin Concerto that Barber composed three years earlier: both works surround peaceful melodies and consonant phrases (especially those built from perfect fourths and fifths) with more turbulent and unsettled passages. Writing in The New York Times after the premiere performance, the critic Howard Taubman described the Second Essay as “perhaps a shade too solemn, but a composer is entitled to his own thesis.”
Suite from Appalachian Spring
(1943-44; 1945 orchestration)
Approximate duration: 25 minutes
After studying in France for three years, Aaron Copland returned to the United States with a stark and spiky musical language steeped in Parisian influences. He moved away from those European conventions in the early 1930s, and he soon found his authentic American voice through explorations of local folk music. A campy orchestra work from 1936, El Salón México, brought Copland his first broad success. Two major ballets set in the American West followed: Billy the Kid (1938) and Rodeo (1942). Copland further refined his American style, musically and culturally, in two orchestral works from 1942, Lincoln Portrait and Fanfare for the Common Man.
Copland began his crowning work of Americana in 1943, when the dancer and choreographer Martha Graham asked him to compose the score for a ballet commissioned and funded by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. Copland kept Graham’s style in mind: he saw “something prim and restrained, simple yet strong about her, which one tends to think of as American.” He worked under the title Ballet for Martha until not long before the premiere, when Graham suggested Appalachian Spring, borrowing the phrase from Hart Crane’s poem “The Bridge.”
Appalachian Spring debuted on October 30, 1944, in Washington, D.C. The limited dimensions of the Library of Congress’ 500-seat auditorium dictated a small ensemble, and Copland’s original ballet score used just 13 instruments. In 1945 Copland created a concert suite scored for full orchestra, omitting a few sequences from the ballet, which quickly entered the symphonic repertoire. Appalachian Spring earned Copland the Pulitzer Prize in 1945, cementing his reputation as the leading composer of his generation.
The wonder of Appalachian Spring is how it achieves so much using such simple and familiar musical ingredients. The first section, case in point, assembles its hazy wash of consonant sonorities by enunciating plain triads and the resonant intervals of fourths and fifths.
The following section energizes similarly basic materials—octave leaps, triadic intervals and descending major scales—into spry dance music. The scoring emphasizes crisp and brilliant colors, including piano and xylophone, solo woodwinds and flecks of pizzicato from the strings.
The famous section that follows, starting with a theme in the clarinet, presents the tune of Simple Gifts, a Shaker dance song written in 1848 by Joseph Brackett. The humble melody fits seamlessly into the homespun, diatonic language of Copland’s score. Its increasingly grand variations rise to a transcendental climax, subsiding into a prayer-like chorale.
Michael Tilson Thomas
You Come Here Often? (2014)
You Come Here Often? is a virtuoso piece based on a production number from a music theater piece I was contemplating in the 1970s. The scene takes place in a downtown club where two people, who have long flirted with one another, happen to meet up. Amidst the noisy energy of the place they try to express some of the feelings they may still have for one another, before their words are obliterated by the noisy and joyous tumult.
— Michael Tilson Thomas
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Approximate duration: 12 minutes
Antonín Dvořák came from a small Bohemian village, where his zither-playing father was the local butcher and innkeeper. Over time, Dvořák’s devotion to his Czech musical roots would be seen as a defining virtue, but for years he battled prejudice that he was not an “international” composer—that is to say, one who worked squarely within the traditional Austro-German musical language. In the 1880s he found his strongest champions off the continent in London, where he was viewed as a true heir to Beethoven; he even composed his Seventh Symphony for the same Royal Philharmonic Society that had commissioned Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Proceeds from his London trips and publishing deals allowed Dvořák to fulfill his dream of buying a country house near his in-laws in the Bohemian village of Vysoká, where he spent idyllic summers composing, walking through the woods and tending to his garden and pigeons. He composed his Eighth Symphony there in 1889, filling the G-major composition with sunny tunes, bright fanfares and bird calls.
Dvořák was aghast when his regular publisher, Simrock, offered to buy the Eighth Symphony for only one-sixth of the price paid for the very popular Seventh Symphony. Simrock, at the suggestion of Brahms, had plucked Dvořák from obscurity and near-poverty in 1878, but now the publisher wanted Dvořák to keep producing small and light pieces like the Slavonic Dances. Using his new connections in England, Dvořák instead sold the Eighth Symphony to Novello, which published it in London in 1892, numbered at the time as the Fourth Symphony.
As the Czech conductor Rafael Kubelík once said, “In Bohemia the trumpets never call to battle—they always call to the dance!” After the trumpets’ brilliant announcement to start the finale, the cellos enter with a graceful theme that once again starts with a rising triad. It is another reminder that this Symphony, so relaxed and indubitably Czech, operates beneath the surface with as much rigor and integrity as any Germanic masterpiece.
— © Aaron Grad
Aaron Grad is a composer, guitarist and writer based in Seattle. Besides providing program notes for the New World Symphony, he has been the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s program annotator since 2005 and also contributes notes to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
Ways to Watch and Tech FAQs
Please read the following FAQs. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact NWS’s Box Office staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.673.3331.
What should I be seeing?
On Saturday, January 9 starting at 7:15 PM, click this page’s watch button and insert your access code. You should see a welcome slide at the top of the live stream page and hear music playing. This is a great opportunity to check your audio settings before the concert. At 7:30 PM the concert begins. The stream should automatically begin, but if that’s not the case, try pushing the play button again.
My code appears invalid. What should I do?
The concert watch codes are specific to both device AND browser. Contact NWS at email@example.com or 305.673.3331 for additional assistance.
What’s the best way to watch?
We recommend logging in by 7:15 PM on Saturday to test your audio and internet connection. You can use those 15 minutes to maximize your setup and ensure the best and most comfortable listening and viewing environment.
* Replay of the performance will be available beginning 90 minutes after the original performance starting time.
** If you are watching the concert on the phone, please turn the screen horizontally (landscape), to have a better experience.
Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony; and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to these posts, he maintains an active presence guest conducting with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Tilson Thomas is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. His father, Ted Thomas, was a producer in the Mercury Theater Company in New York before moving to Los Angeles where he worked in films and television. His mother, Roberta Thomas, was the head of research for Columbia Pictures.
Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California, where he studied piano with John Crown, and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At age 19 he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. During this same period, he was the pianist and conductor in master classes of Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz and worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts.
In 1969, after winning the Koussevitzky Prize at Tanglewood, he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That year he also made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony and gained international recognition after replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert. He was later appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 1974. He was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1971 to 1979 and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1981 to 1985. His guest conducting includes appearances with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Mr. Tilson Thomas is a two-time Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist, curating and conducting series at the hall from 2003 to 2005 and from 2018 to 2019. In the most recent series, he led Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America both at the hall and on tour in Asia, opened the Carnegie Hall season over two evenings with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted two programs with the Vienna Philharmonic and finished with a pair of concerts leading the New World Symphony.
A winner of eleven Grammy Awards, Mr. Tilson Thomas appears on more than 120 recordings. His discography includes The Mahler Project, a collection of the composer’s complete symphonies and works for voice and orchestra performed with the San Francisco Symphony, in addition to pioneering recordings of music by Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Steve Reich, John Cage, Ingolf Dahl, Morton Feldman, George Gershwin, John McLaughlin and Elvis Costello. His recordings span repertoire from Bach and Beethoven to Debussy and Stravinsky, and from Sarah Vaughan to Metallica.
His television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for BBC Television, broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977 and numerous productions on PBS’s Great Performances. With the San Francisco Symphony, he created a multi-tiered media project, Keeping Score, which includes a television series, web sites, and radio programs. He received a Peabody Award for his SFS Media radio series The MTT Files.
Mr. Tilson Thomas’s compositions are published by G. Schirmer. In 1991, he and the New World Symphony were presented in a series of benefit concerts for UNICEF in the United States, featuring Audrey Hepburn as narrator of his work From the Diary of Anne Frank, which was commissioned by UNICEF. This piece has since been translated and performed in many languages worldwide. In August 1995, he led the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in the premiere of his composition Shówa/Shoáh, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. His vocal music includes settings of poetry by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, which were premiered by Thomas Hampson and Renée Fleming, respectively. In 2016, Yuja Wang premiered his piano piece You Come Here Often?.
Mr. Tilson Thomas' song cycle Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, a setting of Carl Sandburg’s poem, was premiered in 2016 by the New World Symphony, with Measha Brueggergosman as soloist. In 2019 the piece was recorded for Medici.tv at the New World Center and given its New York premiere as part of Mr. Tilson Thomas’s second Carnegie Hall Perspectives series. His first Perspectives series also featured performances of his own compositions, including Island Music for four marimbas and percussion; Notturno for solo flute and strings, featuring soloist Paula Robison; and new settings of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. In 2020, he led the San Francisco Symphony in the world premiere of his six-part song cycle Meditations on Rilke, and he subsequently conducted the work at the Cleveland Orchestra. Additional compositions include Street Song for brass instruments; Agnegram, an overture for orchestra; and Urban Legend, a concerto for contrabassoon that was premiered by the San Francisco Symphony. In June 2020, SFS Media released an album of works composed by Mr. Tilson Thomas, featuring live concert recordings of From the Diary of Anne Frank, narrated by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and Meditations on Rilke, sung by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny.
Mr. Tilson Thomas is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was Musical America’s Musician of the Year and Conductor of the Year, was Gramophone magazine’s Artist of the Year and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a 2019 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.
Chad Goodman serves as the Conducting Fellow of the New World Symphony and as an Assistant Conductor to the San Francisco Symphony. With a flair for inventive programming and a bold presence on stage and in the community, he has been praised for "bringing innovation to classical music" (Forbes).
Mr. Goodman designs and presents programs which reimagine how orchestras connect with their audiences. His 2019 education program, “SPARK: How Composers Find Inspiration,” blended captivating light design and videography with engaging audience participation to explore how a composition is created and brought to life by an orchestra. In his first season as Conducting Fellow at NWS, he conducted on nearly a dozen programs and worked closely with Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas, sharing the podium with him on three programs.
Since 2018, Mr. Goodman has served as an Assistant Conductor to the San Francisco Symphony, assisting Esa-Pekka Salonen, Manfred Honeck, Daniel Harding, Pablo Heras-Casado, Simone Young and James Gaffigan, among others.
As Founder and Artistic Director of Elevate Ensemble, Mr. Goodman’s ambitious vision for concert programming resulted in the pairing of music from Bay Area composers with underappreciated gems of the 20th and 21st centuries. Under his leadership, Elevate Ensemble established a Composer-in-Residence program and commissioned 15 works from Bay Area composers.
Elevate collaborated with photographers, videographers, poets and culinary artists, bringing new music and vibrant multi-genre experiences to unique venues such as yoga studios, historic Victorian homes and art studio warehouses.
Mr. Goodman has previously served as Music Director of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Peninsula Symphony. He has been a conducting fellow for the Atlantic Music Festival, a rehearsal and cover conductor for the San Francisco Ballet, and has collaborated with composer Mason Bates on his electronica-classical music project, Mercury Soul.
In addition to his performing career, Mr. Goodman has discussed the future of live performance as a panelist at Meyer Sound Laboratories and taught young musicians the business and entrepreneurial skills needed to successfully navigate the world as a working musician in his workshop “You Just Earned a Music Degree. Now What?”
Mr. Goodman holds a bachelor of music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a master of music degree from San Francisco State University. His mentors include Michael Tilson Thomas, Alasdair Neale, Cyrus Ginwala and Martin Seggelke.
An unusually versatile musician, Teddy Abrams is a widely acclaimed conductor, as well as an established pianist, clarinetist, and composer. He has been named Music Director Designate of the Louisville Orchestra, and assumes the title of Music Director in September 2014. Recently appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Britt Orchestra Season, 2014 marks his first season in that role. Simultaneously, Teddy concludes his tenure as Assistant Conductor of the Detroit Symphony with the 2013-14 season. Additional appointments include a tenure as Resident Conductor of the MAV Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, which he first conducted in 2011.
Active as a guest conductor, Abrams’ recent and upcoming performances include returns to The Florida Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony, where he conducted the orchestra’s summer classical series in July 2013. Recent debuts have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. From 2008 to 2011 Abrams was the Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor of the New World Symphony (NWS) and conducted many performances, including subscription concerts and numerous other full and chamber orchestra events. Abrams has conducted the NWS in Miami Beach, Washington, D.C. and at Carnegie Hall, and has worked with many other orchestras around the country.
An accomplished pianist and clarinetist, Abrams has appeared as a soloist with a number of orchestras – including playing and conducting the Ravel Piano Concerto with the Jacksonville Symphony in fall 2013 – and has performed chamber music with the St. Petersburg String Quartet, Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, Time for Three and John Adams in addition to annual appearances at the Olympic Music Festival. Dedicated to exploring new and engaging ways to communicate with a diverse range of audiences, Abrams co-founded the Sixth Floor Trio in 2008. The Trio has performed around the country, establishing residencies in communities in North Carolina, Philadelphia, New York and South Florida; Abrams and the Trio founded and direct GardenMusic, the music festival of the world-renowned Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami. Abrams collaborated (as an arranger and pianist) with Cleveland Orchestra principal trombonist Massimo La Rosa for La Rosa’s debut CD, released in October 2010.
Abrams studied conducting with Michael Tilson Thomas, Otto-Werner Mueller and Ford Lallerstedt at the Curtis Institute of Music, and with David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival; he was the youngest conducting student ever accepted at both institutions. Abrams is also an award-winning composer and a passionate educator – he has taught at numerous schools throughout the United States. His 2009 Education Concerts with the New World Symphony (featuring the world premiere of one of Abrams’ own orchestral works) were webcast to hundreds of schools throughout South Florida.
Abrams performed as a keyboardist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, won the 2007 Aspen Composition Contest, and was the Assistant Conductor of the YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall in
2009. He has held residencies at the La Mortella music festival in Ischia, Italy and at the American Academy in Berlin. Teddy was a proud member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for seven seasons, and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music, having studied piano with Paul Hersh.
Teddy Abrams is represented by Matthew Oberstein at Opus 3 Artists.
The Sixth Floor Trio is represented by Lisa Sapinkopf Artists.
Hailed for his natural ease and compelling musicianship, James Gaffigan is considered one of the most outstanding American conductors working today. He has attracted international attention for his prowess both as a conductor of opera and symphony orchestras.
James Gaffigan is Chief Conductor of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester and Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also Music Director Designate of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra. Since becoming Chief Conductor in Lucerne nine seasons ago, he has made a significant impact on the orchestra’s profile, both at home and abroad, thanks to their successful concerts, international tours and recordings.
Gaffigan is in high demand working with leading orchestras and opera companies throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The 2020/21 season features debuts with the Paris Opera and Philharmonia Orchestra of London plus returns to the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra in D.C. and Bayerische Staatsoper. He leads his final season as Chief Conductor in Lucerne that commences with a South American tour and culminates in an Asia tour with Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist.
Recent symphonic highlights include appearances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Staatskapelle Dresden, Vienna Symphony, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Tokyo Metropolitan and Seoul Philharmonic.
In North America, Gaffigan works with top orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
A regular at the Metropolitan Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper, Gaffigan is equally at home in the opera house and conducts at the Zürich Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Staatsoper Hamburg, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera.
James Gaffigan was First Prize winner of the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. In 2009, he completed a three-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, a position created for him by Michael Tilson Thomas. Prior to that, he was Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, where he worked with Music Director Franz Welser Möst.
Passionate about music education and a product of the New York City public school system, James Gaffigan grew up in Staten Island and studied at the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art before pursuing his conducting studies.
Hailed for his “virtuosity” (Miami Herald), “elegance and energy” (Classical Miami Magazine), “inventiveness” (San Diego Tribune) and described as a “marvelous, musical mad scientist” (Music Critics Association of North America), American pianist John Wilson performs equally brilliantly as a solo recitalist, chamber musician and orchestral pianist. Mr. Wilson recently performed the solo pianoforte part to Stravinsky’s Petrushka for the San Francisco Symphony’s 2018 Carnegie Hall tour, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. His playing was subsequently described as “brilliant” by Classical Voice.
Mr. Wilson has performed extensively in North America, South America and Europe, in recital halls such as the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center and at The American Academy of Arts and Letters. As a soloist he has performed with the New World Symphony, Napa Valley Symphony and both the New Amsterdam Symphony and Camerata Notturna in New York City. A top prize winner in international piano competitions, he most recently won the prize for the “Best Performance of an American Work” at the 2017 Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Wilson has appeared in chamber ensembles with violin soloist Anthony Marwood, musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and San Diego Symphony. He has performed in duo recitals with violinist Joshua Bell numerous times, cellist Johannes Moser, and collaborated with soprano Audra McDonald and David Foster.