A lively and bounteous New York music season awaits

Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 5:27 pm

“Anna Nicole: The Opera” by Mark-Anthony Turnage opens New York City Opera’s season September 17 at BAM. (Photo: Eva-Maria Westbroek and Alan Oke in the 2011 Royal Opera House premiere.)

To preview a classical season for any major American city is a daunting task. To do so for New York City, with its  epic scale, breadth and variety of repertory, and wealth of organizations is well-nigh impossible.

So consider the following an attempt to zero in on some of the highlights of New York’s 2013-14 season. No preview can be complete but we hope that you’ll find some offbeat events to mark in your calendar along with those of the city’s traditional presenters. [Lawrence A. Johnson]

The city’s on song

Opera Omnia kicks off the season with a supreme masterwork rarely heard in the Big Apple: Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (sung in English, Sept. 10–12). Voce at Pace, a new series showcasing up-and-coming opera stars, opens with a recital by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, winner of the 2013 Cardiff Singer of the World competition (Nov. 3).

New York City Opera’s season includes the U.S. premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ripped-from-the-headlines Anna Nicole (Sept. 17–26) and Johann Christian Bach’s Endimione starring  rising tenor Nicholas Phan (Feb. 8–16). Among Gotham Chamber Opera’s offerings are a recreation of the storied Baden-Baden Festival of Contemporary Music performance of July 1927 (works by Weill, Hindemith, Milhaud, and Toch, Oct. 23–29) and Monteverdi with a Lembit Beecher world premiere (I Have No Stories to Tell You, about a photojournalist’s return from the Middle East) at the Met Museum (Feb. 2–27).

(le) poisson rouge hosts an evening of Britten and Nico Muhly performed by Patricia Racette, Iestyn Davies, and other luminaries (Oct. 17) in conjunction with two keenly anticipated events at the Metropolitan Opera: the U.S. premiere of Muhly’s Two Boys (Oct. 21–Nov. 14), a drama that unfolds in the murkiest regions of cyberspace; and the revival of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oct. 11–31) led by James Conlon. Rutgers Opera Institute also performs Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at (le) poisson rouge (Nov. 17). Through the end of 2013, Trinity Wall Street offers Concerts at One highlighting the British master’s choral, vocal, and chamber music. (Visit the Britten100 site for information on centennial events worldwide.)

Carnegie Hall’s Britten 100 series includes a concert performance of Peter Grimes by the St. Louis Symphony led by David Robertson, starring Anthony Dean Griffey and Susanna Phillips (Nov. 22). 2013–14 looks to be a breakout season for the Alabama-born soprano: at the Met she stars as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Sept. 24–Apr. 30), Rosalinde in a new staging of Johann Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus (sung in English, Dec. 31–Feb. 22), and Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème (Apr. 2–5).

A new Robert Carsen production of Verdi’s Falstaff features a top-notch ensemble (including Ambrogio Maestri, Angela Meade, and Stephanie Blythe) under the baton of James Levine (Dec. 6–Jan. 11). Other Met highlights include glittering revivals of Dvorák’s Rusalka (Renée Fleming, Dolora Zajick, and Piotr Beczala under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jan. 23–Feb. 13) and Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, and Alessandro Corbelli, Apr. 21–May 10).

The first Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now festival in 2013 was a triumph; Prototype returns in early 2014 with five new operas, including Thumbprint by Kamala Sankaram, based on the true story of a young Pakistani peasant who brought her rapists to justice (Jan. 10–18). Experiments in Opera offers an evening of radio operas (Feb. 28–Mar. 1) as well as a fully staged production of Aaron Siegel’s Brother Brother, an opera inspired by the Wrights (May 1–2). American Opera Projects offers a New York Opera Alliance showcase at (le) poisson rouge (Nov. 3) as well as a “First Glimpse” program of works by Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz, Joseph Rubinstein, and Jason Kim (May 18–19).

At Carnegie Hall opera lovers can savor Berg’s Wozzeck performed by the Vienna State Opera forces under Daniele Gatti (Feb. 28) and Strauss’s Salome played by the same glorious band under Andris Nelsons, incoming Boston Symphony Orchestra music director (Mar. 1). The Bronx Opera Company perform Kirke Mechem’s 2011 opera The Rivals (January 11–19) and Verdi’s La traviata (May 9–18) at different venues in several boroughs. Opera Orchestra of New York’s new season is TBA.

New York’s most reliably fine opera performances often happen at the city’s great conservatories. This season Juilliard Opera performs Handel’s Radamisto (Nov. 20–24), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Feb. 19–23), and Massenet’s Cendrillon (April 23–27), while Manhattan School of Music serves up Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All (Dec. 11–15) and Haydn’s Orlando Paladino (Apr. 30–May 4). The Salzburg Marionette Theatre give the Wagner bicentennial an exuberant sendoff: a two-hour distillation of Der Ring des Nibelungen (with music from Sir Georg Solti’s classic Decca recording) at the Met Museum (Dec. 13 and 14).

Lieder pickings this season are especially bountiful and include recitals by Christian Gerhaher at the Park Avenue Armory (Sept. 29 and Oct. 1); Wolfgang Holzmair at the Frick Collection (Feb. 9); and Gerald Finley (Feb. 13), Matthias Goerne (Mar. 5), and Florian Boesch (May 9) at Carnegie. BAM serves up a weekend-long 21c Liederabend comprising works by Anna Clyne, David T. Little, Eric Whitacre, and many others (Nov. 22 and 23). Among New York Festival of Song’s wide-ranging offerings: “Warsaw Serenade,” a program of music by Karol Szymanowski, Grażyna Bacewicz, Mieczysław Weinberg, and other Polish composers (Feb. 18).

In with the new

Caroline Shaw's xx will be performed by yyy. Photo:

Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s complete “Partita” will be heard in its world premiere by Roomful of Teeth Nov. 4 at (le) poisson rouge. Photo: Dashon Burton.

The New York Philharmonic in collaboration with groups from around the city will present the inaugural NY Phil Biennial in spring 2014, featuring new and recent music by over fifty composers from a dozen nations. Highlights include a George Benjamin program by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under Pablo Heras-Casado (Jun. 1), a Christopher Rouse world premiere performed by the Philharmonic and led by Alan Gilbert (Jun. 5 and 7), and the U.S. premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven staged by Gotham Chamber Opera (May 28–31).

The Stone, an experimental music space founded by John Zorn, offers up to fifteen concerts a week. One early season highlight: a residency by clarinetist, composer, and klezmer maven David Krakauer (Sept. 24–29). Zorn’s sixtieth birthday celebrations include concerts at the Miller Theatre (Sept. 25–27), a day-long program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring the composer, guitarist Bill Frisell, violinist Pauline Kim, and many others (Sept. 28); programs of song at (le) poisson rouge (Sept. 29); and a semi-staged performance of his opera The Holy Visions at the Abrons Arts Center (Nov. 2).

Brooklyn’s Roulette is another intrepid new-music venue; among its many intriguing offerings are the U.S. premiere of France’s Dedalus Ensemble in a program of works by New York composers (Sept. 9) and Theresa Wong’s Goya-inspired song cycle The Unlearning (Dec. 19). The downtown performing space SubCulture NYC hosts joint 92Y and New York Philharmonic CONTACT! evenings and 92Y offerings, including piano recitals by Shai Wosner (Schubert and Widmann, Sept. 17) and Benjamin Hochman (with a Tamar Muskal world premiere, Mar. 10).

At (le) poisson rouge, Roomful of Teeth and Holly Herndon give the world premiere performance of the complete Partita for eight voices by Caroline Shaw, who earlier this year became the youngest winner of a Pulitzer Prize for music (Nov. 4). Random Access Music’s season embraces new works for viols in collaboration with Parthenia: composers include Devid Fetherolf, Gilbert Galindo, Jonathan Pieslak, and Allen Schulz (Nov. 8 and 9). The 2014 MATA Festival, to be held at the Kitchen in April, will feature music by nineteen composers under forty from eleven nations (dates TBA).

Alarm Will Sound, an ensemble of breathtaking virtuosity, has a season-long residence at the Met Museum. Their concerts include works by Ligeti, Reich, Varèse, and (Jun. 20) a new music-theatre piece by Kate Soper, I Was Here I Was I, based on the writings of Victorian adventurer Amelia Edwards, to be performed at the Temple of Dendur. The 2014 season of the Ecstatic Music Festival, centering on “music for the post-classical generation,” will include premieres by John Luther Adams, Alvin Lucier, Richard Reed Parry, and Daniel Wohl and performances by Missy Mazzoli and Victoire (dates TBA).

Finally, David Lang, Bang on a Can co-founder and Carnegie Hall’s 2013–14 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair, presides over a wondrous series of events at Carnegie, including a late-night So Percussion concert with a Bruce Dressner world premiere and music by electronic duo Matmos and Lang (Nov. 23); an evening of American works (Ives, Copland, Adam, and Lang) performed by the coruscating Ensemble ACJW (Mar. 26); and a program of music by John Cage and a Lang world premiere (Apr. 29).

Chamber music

The inhumanly talented players of the Israeli Chamber Project seem poised for a breakthrough season of their own: they perform at Merkin Concert Hall (Oct. 15 and, with a Lowell Liebermann world premiere, May 28) and Town Hall (Feb. 9, Zohar Sharon U.S. premiere). The Peoples’ Symphony Concerts offer recitals by keyboard patricians Radu Lupu (Jan. 12), Alexandre Tharaud (Mar. 1), and Jeremy Denk (Apr. 12); the not-to-be-missed Musicians from Marlboro (Nov. 16 and Apr. 5); and the Dover Quartet with Leon Fleischer playing Schubert and Korngold (Mar. 16).

The varied and inviting offerings of Bargemusic (located on the water, just under the Brooklyn Bridge) encompass a concert of music by Mohammed Fairouz, including several New York premieres (Sept. 20); a Ned Rorem ninetieth-birthday tribute, including world premieres of short tribute works (Oct. 18); and a program by Rob Schwimmer of music for piano, theremin, and continuum (Dec. 6 and 7).

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s offerings run the gamut from “The Incredible Decade” (music by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Schubert composed between 1820 and 1830, Feb. 7–Mar. 2) to a new-music series and Beethoven and Mussorgsky played by Alessio Bax (Mar. 27).

Other chamber highlights include a four-concert series by Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall; the group’s inventive programs range from Monteverdi to New York premieres by Andy Akiho and Georg Friedrich Haas. Carnegie also offers a début recital by mandolinist Avi Avital (Jan. 17); violinist Fabio Biondi and harpsichordist Kenneth Weiss in works by J.S. Bach and Locatelli (Feb. 20); Kronos Quartet in a program featuring world premieres by Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (Mar. 28); and the Tákacs Quartet in a complete Bartók cycle (Jan. 18 and 19).

At 92Y, Emmanuel Ax and Sir Patrick Stewart perform Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden on opening night (Sept. 30). András Schiff gives a lecture-recital on Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations (Oct. 29), and the Hagen Quartet play a complete Beethoven cycle (Nov. 7–17). The new year brings recitals by pianist Jeremy Denk and cellist Steven Isserlis (Apr. 26) and Peter Serkin in a Sweelinck, Wourinen, and Beethoven program (May 10).

The Frick’s chamber music series includes cellist David Geringas in two Bach cello suites and works by Corigliano and other modern masters (Jan. 12). The Morgan’s concert series includes a 75th-birthday tribute to Charles Wuorinen featuring pianists Ursula Oppens, Alan Feinberg, and Anne-Marie McDermott along with the Brentano Quartet (Nov. 20). The Schneider Concerts at Mannes College of Music showcase up-and-coming ensembles; ECCO (the East Coast Chamber Orchestra) offers an especially compelling program ranging from Gesualdo to a new work by David Ludwig (Mar. 16).


Glenn Dicterow wil be featured in several New York Philharmonic programs in his outgoing season as concertmaster.

Glenn Dicterow wil be featured in several New York Philharmonic programs in his outgoing season as concertmaster.

There is at least one work by a female composer in every program in the American Composers Orchestra series at Carnegie Hall, an achievement for the city’s other presenters to aspire to (Oct.-Apr.). The New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra’s concerts at Symphony Space comprise Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 played by Assaff Weismann (Nov. 8) and an imaginative Wagner-Rachmaninoff-Stravinsky program (Feb. 7), both led by principal conductor Guerguan Tsenov.

For visionary programming and winning zeal, no local orchestra tops One World Symphony. Their new season includes Temptation, an evening of Hindemith, Puccini, Saariaho, and Schubert (Oct. 27 and 28) and Addiction, with music by Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, and OWS artistic director Sung Jin Hong (Jan. 26 and 27). The Orchestra of St. Luke’s Carnegie season includes Mendelssohn, Britten (sung by Ian Bostridge), and Shostakovich under principal conductor Heras-Casado (Oct. 23) and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis led by Sir Roger Norrington (Mar. 6), as well as chamber music at the Morgan and the Brooklyn Museum. The American Symphony Orchestra’s toothsome season includes an Elliott Carter program (Nov. 17) and Max Bruch’s oratorio Moses (Mar. 27) with the Collegiate Chorale Singers, both at Carnegie.

The New York Philharmonic’s season includes numerous concerts showcasing outgoing concertmaster Glenn Dicterow. Esa-Pekka Salonen leads Sibelius, Ravel, and the New York concert premiere of his own Violin Concerto (Oct. 30–Nov. 5), Alan Gilbert presides over Britten’s Spring Symphony (Nov. 21–23), while Yefim Bronfman performs Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Jan. 2–7) and Beethoven’s five piano concertos and, with Dicterow and Carter Brey, the Triple Concerto (Jun. 11–28), all under Gilbert.

Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series includes two concerts by the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Gustavo Dudamel, Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 (Mar. 16), and works by Brahms, Daníel Bjarnason, and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Yuja Wang (Mar. 17). At Carnegie Hall, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (Nov. 14); the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin perform Brahms and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (Dec. 6), Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with soloist Truls Mørk (Feb. 21), and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 (May 2). Levine leads the Met Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 and the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with soloist Peter Mattei (Dec. 22), and the Vienna Philharmonic play Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony under Gatti (Mar. 15).

The holy and the damned

The legendary choir of men and boys at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue makes for incomparably rich musical offerings, including choral services, organ recitals, and ticketed concerts. The new season of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola features music from the Jewish, Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Lutheran traditions.

Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI offer a similarly expansive perspective with “The Cycles of Life: A Musical Exploration of the Balkans” (Nov. 3), one of many spirit-centered events in Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, which also includes Messiaen’s Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine performed by the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst (Nov. 4), the New York premiere of Arvo Pärt’s In principio (Nov. 10) and a program of choral works by John Tavener, Thomas Tallis, Pärt, and Muhly (Nov. 16). [stet lc] The “collected stories” series at Carnegie Hall curated by Lang includes a program of Tuvan throat singing and Pärt’s Passio (Apr. 23); Pärt’s Canon Pokanajen will be performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at the Met Museum’s Temple of Dendur (Jun. 2).

The vocal ensemble TENET performs throughout the northeast corridor; Big Apple highlights include on-site concerts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s renovated European paintings galleries (Sept. 17–18), François Couperin’s gorgeous Leçons de ténèbres (Mar. 15), and Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the church of St. Mary the Virgin, one of the city’s most acoustically thrilling venues (Jun. 18 and 21).

The heavenly voices of the Collegiate Chorale are of the devil’s party for their season opener: a concert performance of Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele starring the charismatic bass-baritone Eric Owens (Nov. 6). The Alice Tully Hall launch of Cameron Carpenter’s International Touring Organ promises to fuse the sacred, the profane, and a hefty dollop of the old razzle-dazzle (Mar. 9). Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, too, boldly traverse realms embracing both the godly and the unholy: season highlights include a program of works inspired by the Greek tragedians and the villainous Nero (Sept. 19 and 21) and music by the Italian Jewish composer Salomone Rossi (Jan. 26).

Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet, a re-working of music by Thomas Tallis, will be installed at the Fuentidueña Chapel at The Cloisters (Sept. 9–Dec. 8). The Oratorio Society of New York’s new season emphasizes the tried and true: Mozart’s Requiem (Nov. 4), Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 23), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (May 20), all performed at Carnegie Hall. At posting time the Young People’s Chorus of New York City had not announced their 2013–14 season, but their offerings are always sterling; in months to come the admirable Brooklyn Youth Chorus sing Britten all over the city, Rouse, Mahler, and a 9/11 memorial event. Events featuring the wonderful Manhattan Girls Chorus include the Collegiate Chorale’s Mefistofele and Strauss’s Feuersnot performed by the American Symphony Orchestra (Dec. 15).

See the Vocal Area Network Concert Calendar for more information on choral programs in the New York area and New York’s American Guild of Organists concert calendar.

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