2019-20 Season Press Release



OCTOBER 31, 2019 – MARCH 12, 2020

Music Director Leon Botstein to Conduct Four Concerts Including Tributes to Duke Ellington, Beethoven’s 250th Birthday, and J.S. Bach’s Four Sons

ASO Renews Successful Series at Symphony Space

Soloists Include:
Pianist Lucas Debargue; Sopranos Janai Brugger and Amanda Woodbury; Mezzo-Sopranos Maya Lahyani and Taylor Raven; Tenors Cooper Nolan and Jack Swanson; and Baritones Alexander Birch Elliott and Chris Kenney; Plus Jazz Pianist Marcus Roberts and the Marcus Roberts Trio, and American Vocalist Catherine Russell

New York, NY, June 25, 2019 American Symphony Orchestra announced the 58th season of its three-concert Vanguard series at Carnegie Hall, now expanded to include an additional performance at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. The season also marks the return of the Orchestra’s popular series to New York City’s Symphony Space—which originally took place between 1998 and 2015—with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in conjunction with the ASO’s celebration of the great composer’s 250th birthday. This series combines complete concerts of well-known, major orchestral works with interactive educational demonstrations. The full 2019–20 season runs from October 31, 2019 through March 12, 2020.

Following the success of the Orchestra’s 2017 performance of The Apostles, the ASO season opens on October 31 with Edward Elgar’s massive choral work The Kingdom, the second of Elgar’s incomplete trilogy of oratorios. The concert series continues with Sons of Bach, which will present rarely-performed works by four fellows who followed in the footsteps of their famous father, J.S. Bach (December 19, 2019). In honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Beyond Beethoven will examine how the composer’s music inspired others with a program of works by Liszt, Spohr, and Reger. The performance will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of an often-overlooked 20th-century master, Galina Ustvolskaya (January 31, 2020). The Carnegie Hall season culminates with Duke Ellington, a tribute to the genre-defying genius of Ellington, with an evening including two world premiere arrangements by Marcus Roberts of New World A-Comin’ and Three Black Kings for Jazz Trio and Large Orchestra (March 12, 2020).

Music director Leon Botstein will provide the musical context for each of the concert programs in lively, 30-minute Conductor’s Notes Q&A sessions. These discussions, animated learning opportunities for both concert-goers and music connoisseurs alike, begin one hour before each concert and are free for all ticket holders.

The Kingdom
Thursday, October 31, 2019 at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
Conductor’s Notes Q&A 7 PM
Concert 8 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Janai Brugger, soprano
Maya Lahyani, mezzo–soprano
Cooper Nolan, tenor
Alexander Birch Elliott, baritone
Bard Festival Chorale
James Bagwell, choral director
Edward Elgar: The Kingdom

The opening program presents the second work in Elgar’s incomplete trilogy of oratorios, which begins with the calling of twelve young men (The Apostles). The Kingdom explores the start of the apostles’ mission on earth, ultimately unfolding at the end of time (The Last Judgement). This immense choral work—set to scriptural references from the New Testament—focuses on the apostle Peter and the beginnings of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. Soloists feature soprano Janai Brugger, one of Opera News’ top 25 “brilliant young artists”; mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani, who has sung more than 70 performances at the Metropolitan Opera; tenor Cooper Nolan, praised by Musical America for his “bright, shining, tenor”; and baritone Alexander Birch Elliot, who debuted this season at both the Houston Grand Opera and the Metropolitan Opera as Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles.

Tickets, priced at $25–$65, go on sale September 3 at carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or the box office at 57th St & 7th Ave.

Sons of Bach
Thursday, December 19, 2019 at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center
Conductor’s Notes Q&A 7 PM
Concert 8 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Amanda Woodbury, soprano
Taylor Raven, mezzo-soprano
Jack Swanson, tenor
Chris Kenney, baritone
Bard Festival Chorale
James Bagwell, choral director
W.F. Bach: Erzittert und Fallet (Oh, Tremble and Falter)
J.C.F. Bach: Die Amerikanerin (The American)
J.C. Bach: Symphony in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6
C.P.E. Bach: Magnificat

These rarely-performed works by four of J.S. Bach’s sons showcase the compositional mastery the young men learned from their father, while also revealing how each was able to develop his own unique style. Wilhelm Friedemann’s music is closest to his father’s, while Carl Philipp Emanuel’s is more imaginative and expressive. Johann Christian’s music, on the other hand, is closer to the classical style of Mozart, although his earliest works are remarkably similar to Emanuel’s. Johann Christoph Friedrich’s compositional style resembles those of both Emanuel and Christian.

The soloists are soprano Amanda Woodbury, now in her fifth season at the Metropolitan Opera; mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven, who recently made her solo debut with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; 2018 Richard Tucker Career Grant Winner, tenor Jack Swanson; and baritone Chris Kenney, a three-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions.

Tickets, priced at $25–$50, go on sale September 3 at lincolncenter.org, by calling CenterCharge at 212.721.6500, or visiting the Alice Tully Hall box office at Broadway and 65th St.

Beyond Beethoven
Friday, January 31, 2020 at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
Conductor’s Notes Q&A 7 PM
Concert 8 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Lucas Debargue, piano
Louis Spohr: Symphony No. 6, “Historical Symphony”
Galina Ustvolskaya: Piano Concerto
Franz Liszt: Fantasy on Motifs from Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens
Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven

In honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the ASO investigates how his music inspired others, from Liszt’s fantasia on the “Turkish March” to Spohr’s Beethovenesque scherzo and Reger’s variations on a bagatelle theme, where he displays his mastery of complex compositional techniques and pays homage to his distinguished predecessors. The program also celebrates the 100th anniversary of an often-overlooked 20th-century master, Galina Ustvolskaya. Her Piano Concerto is considered her first composition and demands the listener’s ear with a passionate, rhythmic motive that is repeated by the piano until the closing chord. French pianist Lucas Debargue is the soloist. He was the only musician at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition awarded with the Moscow Music Critic’s Prize as a pianist whose “incredible gift, artistic vision, and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience.”

Tickets, priced at $25–$65, go on sale September 3 at carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or the box office at 57th St & 7th Ave.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 4 PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space
Leon Botstein, conductor
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5

After a four-year hiatus, the ASO brings back its Symphony Space series, which integrates complete performances of familiar orchestral works with interactive educational demonstrations. The program will present Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, in conjunction with the Orchestra’s celebration of the composer’s 250th birthday. Music director Leon Botstein will open the afternoon with a lecture-demonstration that explains the cultural context and key themes of the work through a series of musical demonstrations played by the Orchestra. After intermission, the piece will be performed in its entirety, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Tickets, priced at $25-$40, go on sale September 3 at symphonyspace.org, 212.864.5400 or the box office on Broadway & 95th St.

Duke Ellington
Thursday, March 12, 2020 at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
Conductor’s Notes Q&A 7 PM
Concert 8 PM
Leon Botstein, conductor
Marcus Roberts Trio
Marcus Roberts, piano
Rodney Jordan, bass
Jason Marsalis, drums
Catherine Russell, singer (special guest appearance)
Three Black Kings (Arr. Marcus Roberts)
New World A-Comin’ (Arr. Marcus Roberts)
Satin Doll
Sophisticated Lady
Night Creature for Jazz Band and Orchestra
Black, Brown and Beige Suite

The ASO culminates its 2019-20 season with a tribute to Duke Ellington on the stage of Carnegie Hall, where Ellington played a series of annual concerts and premiered many of his greatest works, including Black, Brown, and Beige and New World A-Comin’. Ellington’s musical style employed a unique combination of classical and jazz compositional techniques that utilized improvisation over written composition, making him one of the most influential jazz composers of all time. Although he considered his compositions “beyond category” and he never defined himself as a jazz composer, his instrumental combinations, improvisation, and jazz arranging brought the world a notable American sound that can be heard in works like Sophisticated Lady and Harlem. His symphonic suite Three Black Kings displays his focus on musical form and jazz composition. He said his aim in writing Night Creature—which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1955—was “to try to make the symphony swing.”

Marcus Roberts revolutionizes the Jazz trio format by making all three instruments equal partners in an ongoing conversation. His method of writing for trio and orchestra is to blend the two ensembles, the often disparate worlds of Jazz and Classical they each represent, and their contrasting approaches of improvisational vs. written music-making, into a collage that is uniquely and unmistakably American. Grammy-Award winning American vocalist Catherine Russell will join the evening in a special guest appearance.

Tickets, priced at $25–$65, go on sale September 3 at carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or the box office at 57th St & 7th Ave.

American Symphony Orchestra
The American Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski with a mission of making orchestral music accessible and affordable for everyone. Music Director Leon Botstein expanded that mission when he joined the ASO in 1992, creating thematic concerts that explore music from the perspective of the visual arts, literature, religion, and history, and reviving rarely-performed works audiences would otherwise seldom hear performed live.

The Orchestra has made several tours of Asia and Europe and performed in countless benefits for organizations including the Jerusalem Foundation and PBS. Many of the world’s most accomplished soloists have performed with the ASO, including Yo-Yo Ma, Deborah Voigt, and Sarah Chang. The Orchestra has released several recordings on the Telarc, New World, Bridge, Koch, and Vanguard labels, and numerous live performances are also available for digital download. In many cases, these are the only recordings of some of the rare works that have been rediscovered in ASO performances.

Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein has been music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992. He is also music director of The Orchestra Now, an innovative training orchestra composed of top musicians from around the world. He is co-artistic director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, which take place at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, where he has been president since 1975. He is also conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director from 2003–11. In 2018, he assumed artistic directorship of Campus Grafenegg and Grafenegg Academy in Austria. Mr. Botstein also has an active career as a guest conductor with orchestras around the globe, and has made numerous recordings, as well as being a prolific author and music historian. He is the recipient of numerous honors for his contributions to the music industry. In 2019, The New York Times named Leon Botstein a “champion of overlooked works…who has tirelessly worked to bring to light worthy scores by neglected composers.”

For more information, please visit americansymphony.org.

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