Events & Tickets
WALLCAST® CONCERT: FROM THE NEW WORLD
Carlos Miguel Prieto, Musical America’s 2019 Conductor of the Year, makes his NWS debut with music of unabashed emotion and nostalgia. As an emigrant, Antonín Dvořák embraced the sounds of his new American home, adopting our country’s rich musical traditions to create one of the most famous symphonies of all time. Gabriela Ortiz celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Constitution of Mexico in her Hominum. Samuel Barber clings to the sun-dappled days of his childhood with this lyric ode brought to life by soprano Michelle Bradley.
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Knight Foundation and New World Symphony: Reimagining Classical Music in the Digital Age.
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WALLCAST® Concert Sponsors
WALLCAST® concerts are made possible with support from Hitachi, Knight Foundation, Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm, Chanin and Adam Carlin, Susan D. Kronick and Edward Manno Shumsky, Will Osborne and Karen Bechtel, and William Strong. Knight Foundation and New World Symphony: Reimagining Classical Music in the Digital Age.
Approx. Duration: 21 minutes
Hominum: Suite for Orchestra
Approx. Duration: 16 minutes
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Approx. Duration: 40 minutes
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, "From the New World"
Adagio – Allegro molto
Allegro con fuoco
Hominum: Suite for Orchestra
Approximate duration: 21 minutes
During her childhood in Mexico, Gabriela Ortiz was surrounded by folk music, with both of her parents participating in a groundbreaking amateur ensemble that worked to preserve Latin American traditions. Her education took her from Mexico City to Paris and London, and commissions from around the globe for her orchestral works, chamber music, dance scores and operas have made Ortiz a leader among Mexican composers today.
A commission from the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, timed to honor the 2017 centenary of the Mexican Revolution, led Ortiz to write Hominum, a concerto for orchestra. She then worked with conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto to create the shorter Suite heard here. The four movements “allude to the mysterious associations and creative manifestations of music through a series of characteristics that represent our existence as a society,” wrote Ortiz’s colleague Alejandro Escuer in the program note printed for the Suite’s world premiere in Liverpool. His note also fleshed out the meaning behind the titles of each movement:
Black marks the beginning of our primitive, archaic, primeval coexistence among dark rituals, habits and customs ruled by instinct, elements and the chaos that prevents humankind from looking out for the common good. Light, on the other hand, represents the world of ideas, laws, concepts tailored to a social coexistence founded on principles that, first and foremost, prioritize organization and order.
In Water describes the equilibrium between the needs of the individual and society at large, the reconciliation of both sides of humanity; two spheres that, floating in suspension, levitate to enable the generation of creativity, transformation and fulfillment. Finally, Red represents our strength upon confronting different manifestations of injustice; it is the emotional product of chaos caused by a lack of equilibrium, impunity and the corruption of ideas and matter; it is the indignation and struggle against all that which keeps us as a society from living together in harmony.
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Approximate duration: 16 minutes
Samuel Barber had a strong family connection to the world of vocal music: His uncle was Sidney Homer, a composer known for art songs, and his aunt was Louise Homer, a star contralto at The Metropolitan Opera. Barber began writing songs at the age of seven, and his output eventually included two grand operas. His most enduring vocal work has proven to be Knoxville: Summer of 1915, an orchestral setting of a prose poem by James Agee. Written in the wake of World War II, at a time when Barber’s own father was dying, the score strikes a musical posture perfectly aligned with Agee’s intimate and nostalgic look back at an easier, simpler time.
Agee and Barber were born within a few months of each other, and the description of Agee’s childhood in Tennessee resonated deeply with Barber and his own experiences at the same age in a Philadelphia suburb. Writing to his uncle Sidney, Barber said of the text, “It reminded me so much of summer evenings in West Chester, now very far away, and all of you are in it.”
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, "From the New World"
Approximate duration: 40 minutes
In 1892, when Antonín Dvořák agreed to direct the National Conservatory in New York, he understood that his position involved more than running a music school. He wrote to a Czech friend, “The Americans expect great things of me. I am to show them the way into the Promised Land, the realm of a new, independent art, in short a national style of music!”
Dvořák recognized Indigenous and African-American traditions as the two main sources that could provide the authentic roots of an “American” school of composition. His understanding of Indigenous culture was indirect, gleaned from his reading of Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha (1855) and from melodies that appeared in heavily edited songbooks published by Eurocentric scholars. Dvořák did have the benefit of more direct contact with African-American music through a student at the conservatory, Harry Burleigh, a singer and composer who had learned spirituals from his grandfather, a freed slave. Burleigh sang the spirituals to Dvořák, who saw in those melodies a particularly rich wellspring for American concert music.
Dvořák noted essential similarities between Indigenous and African-American music, qualities he recognized in Scottish tunes as well. The shared trait among those styles and many other global folk traditions was the use of the pentatonic mode, as opposed to the major and minor scales of European art music. (An easy way to hear the contrast is on a piano; the black keys form a pentatonic mode, while the white keys form a major scale.)
Dvořák let those folk influences filter through the Symphony that he composed in New York in time for a debut at Carnegie Hall on December 16, 1893, performed by the New York Philharmonic and conductor Anton Seidl. Dvořák numbered the Symphony as his fifth, having disavowed several early works, but it was actually his ninth and final symphony, and modern practice reflects that numbering. The subtitle, “From the New World,” was Dvořák’s own.
In the Symphony’s first movement, a leaping motive sounded by the horns at the start of the Allegro molto section becomes a building block for adventurous exploration that owes more to Brahms (who mentored Dvořák) and Beethoven than American folk music. A secondary theme set in a major key, first heard in the flute, introduces a pastoral contrast.
The Largo second movement reflects the spirituals that Dvořák learned from his African-American student, and it provides the English horn with its most endearing solo passage in the orchestral repertoire. Later, with the addition of lyrics by William Arms Fisher, this melody became “Goin’ Home,” and the fact that it is frequently mistaken for an authentic spiritual proves how well Dvořák synthesized his source material.
The third movement fulfills the traditional function of a symphonic scherzo in the mold of Beethoven and Mendelssohn, while also tying the work together with quotations from the two preceding movements. According to Dvořák, a wedding scene from The Song of Hiawatha served as inspiration for this festive music.
The finale, like the opening movement, blends European-leaning themes and techniques with glints of modal material, including flashbacks to some of the Symphony’s earlier highlights. As the Czech composer duly acknowledged, “I should never have written the Symphony ‘just so’ if I hadn’t seen America.”
-- © 2019 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.
Welcome to Keynotes, NWS's new program-based podcast! NWS audiences can now soak up musical clips and commentary for an upcoming performance while on the road, in the kitchen or at work -- wherever life takes you! Keynotes will be available for select concerts throughout the season. Let us set the stage for your concert experience by sharing noteworthy moments guided by NWS’s program note annotator Aaron Grad. Audio clips provided by Naxos of America, Inc.
Carlos Miguel Prieto was born into a musical family of Spanish and French descent in Mexico City. His charismatic conducting is characterized by its dynamism and the expressivity of his interpretations. He is recognized as a highly influential cultural leader and is the foremost Mexican conductor of his generation. He has been the Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, the country’s most important orchestra, since 2007. Mr. Prieto has also been Music Director of the Louisiana Philharmonic since 2006, where he has led the cultural renewal of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In 2008 he was appointed Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, a hand-picked orchestra which performs a two-month long series of summer programs in Mexico City.
Mr. Prieto’s recent highlights include debuts with the London Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Los Angeles New Music Group, and his returns to the NDR Elbphilharmonie, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Strasbourg Philharmonic and Auckland Philharmonia. Mr. Prieto is in great demand as a guest conductor with many of the top North American orchestras, including those of Cleveland, Dallas, Toronto and Houston, and has enjoyed a particularly close and successful relationship with the Chicago Symphony.
Since 2002, alongside Gustavo Dudamel, Mr. Prieto has conducted the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, which draws young musicians from the entire American continent. A staunch proponent of music education, Mr. Prieto served as Principal Conductor of the YOA from its inception until 2011 when he was appointed Music Director. In early 2010 he conducted the YOA alongside Valery Gergiev on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the World Economic Forum at Carnegie Hall. In 2018 he conducted the orchestra on a tour of European summer festivals, which included performances at the Rheingau and Edinburgh festivals, as well as Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. He has also worked regularly with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the NYO2 in New York and Miami Beach.
Mr. Prieto is renowned for championing Latin American music, as well as his dedication to new music. He has conducted over 100 world premieres of works by Mexican and American composers, many of which were commissioned by him.
Mr. Prieto has an extensive discography that covers labels including Naxos and Sony. Recent Naxos recordings include Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 & Études tableaux, Op. 33, with Boris Giltburg and the RSNO, which won a 2018 Opus Klassik award and was listed as a 2017 Gramophone’s Critics’ Choice, and a recording of Korngold’s Violin Concerto with violinist Philippe Quint and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, which received two Grammy nominations. His recording of the Elgar and Finzi violin concertos with Ning Feng was released on Channel Classics in 2018.
A graduate of Princeton and Harvard universities, Mr. Prieto studied conducting with Jorge Mester, Enrique Diemecke, Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo.
Michelle Bradley, soprano
Michelle Bradley, a recent graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, is beginning to garner great acclaim as one of today’s most promising Verdi sopranos.
This season, Ms. Bradley will make debuts with the Vienna State Opera as Leonora in Il trovatore (a role debut), San Francisco Opera as Elvira in Ernani, San Diego Opera as the title-role in Aida and will return to The Metropolitan Opera for their New Year’s Eve Gala as Liù in Act II of Turandot. She will appear in a solo recital at the Kennedy Center and perform Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the New World Symphony. Future projects include debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and returns to The Metropolitan Opera, all in leading roles.
Last season, Ms. Bradley made a string of notable debuts in Frankfurt for Leonora in a new production of La forza del destino, in Nancy and Erfurt for the title role in Aida, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin for the soprano solo in staged performances of the Verdi Requiem. In concert, she debuted in Paris as the soprano solo in Sir Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time with the Orchestre de Paris under Thomas Adès, sang the soprano solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and sang in recital under the auspices of the George London Foundation in Miami and New York City.
Prior to that, Ms. Bradley returned to The Metropolitan Opera as Clotilde in the new David McVicar production of Norma. She also appeared in Santiago de Chile as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. On the concert stage she made her debut at the May Festival in the Verdi Requiem, sang Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Santa Cruz Symphony, as well as a program of Chausson and Caplet chamber works with the New World Symphony and solo recitals in Palm Beach and Santiago de Chile.
In The Metropolitan Opera’s 2016-17 season, Ms. Bradley made debuts in Mozart’s Idomeneo and as the High Priestess in Aida. Other engagements included recitals at the Théâtre du Châtelet and at New York’s Park Avenue Armory and a return to Santa Cruz for Verdi’s Requiem.
In 2016 Ms. Bradley performed in Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Recital Series in honor of Marilyn Horne, and made her debut singing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Santa Cruz Symphony. Prior to that, she completed a nationwide recital tour ending in May of 2015.
Ms. Bradley is the 2017 recipient of the Leonie Rysanek Award from the George London Foundation, the 2016 recipient of the Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award, and a first-place winner in the Gerda Lissner and the Serge and Olga Koussevitzky vocal competitions. She is the 2014 grand prize winner of The Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition.
Ms. Bradley received her master’s degree in vocal performance from Bowling Green State University. She has participated in master classes with Stephanie Blythe, Anne Sofie von Otter, Marilyn Horne, Deborah Voigt, James Morris and Renata Scotto.