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Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra Present Philadelphia Commissions Micro-Festival

August 27, 2013

Three new works written for three of the Orchestra’s principal players to be premiered over three days, October 31-November 2

 

Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen premieres Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women; Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner premieres Behzad Ranjbaran’s Flute Concerto; and Principal Bassoon Daniel Matsukawa premieres David Ludwig’s Pictures from the Floating World

  

(Philadelphia, August 27, 2013)—Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra present a Philadelphia Commissions Micro-Festival October 31-November 2, a key artistic initiative of Mr. Nézet-Séguin’s second season as music director.  Three leading international composers have been commissioned to write solo works for three of the Orchestra’s principal musicians. Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen premieres Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp, and Orchestra (October 31 and November 1); Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner premieres Behzad Ranjbaran’s Flute Concerto (October 31 and November 2); and Principal Bassoon Daniel Matsukawa premieres David Ludwig’s Pictures from the Floating World (November 1 and 2). Over the course of three days, the Orchestra presents three distinct programs, each containing two of the three commissions in different pairings. Also featured on every concert are Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances—the composer’s final composition, which he dedicated to The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941. All three composers will be in residence over the weekend to share their insights into the complex, creative process that exists between composer and soloist.

Passionate about the work of current-day composers and committed to showcasing the incredible artistry within the Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin says the Commissions Micro-Festival demonstrates the Orchestra’s responsibility to champion new music, while also showcasing what he calls the ensemble’s “genius” musicians. “They are among the most virtuosic and the best in their field,” he adds, “and by partnering with 21st-century composers, they can develop a new language for their instruments. And to really celebrate these works we will focus on them over an entire weekend, giving audiences the chance to hear them in different combinations, hear their diversity of styles in contrast to one another.” 

Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp, and Orchestra, written for Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen, is a multimedia work based on a disappearing language created in Hunan, China, in the 13th century. The piece incorporates video and audio of the handful of remaining women who still speak the language with music for orchestra and solo harp, which the composer chose because it’s “the most feminine instrument.” “This language was passed on … always from a mother to daughter and always by singing,” says Tan Dun. “I want the harp to serve as a very, very dramatic sound source to link this ancient tradition of the women’s language—singing, and reading, and writing—to the future sounds of The Philadelphia Orchestra and modern orchestras.”  Their songs, words, and images, captured in “micro-films” lasting about one to five minutes long, became the foundation for Nu-Shu, which is a three-way commission between The Philadelphia Orchestra, the NHK Symphony, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and which received its premiere on May 22, 2012, in Tokyo with Tan Dun conducting the NHK Symphony.

Behzhad Ranjbaran has had a close relationship with The Philadelphia Orchestra since acting as composer-in-residence at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 2005.  His Flute Concerto, written for Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner, draws on the influence of the Persian flute.  “I tried to capture that relationship that the performer has with the instrument,” says Ranjbaran. “You’re expressing your most intimate and profound feelings through music, through the flute. In this concerto you have the extremes of life. One is very introverted and includes individual profound feelings, and the other one is more ritual and dance-like and extroverted; particularly the last movement is incredibly brilliant in bringing all these emotions into a huge climax.” 

Pictures from the Floating World, for bassoon and orchestra, written by composer David Ludwig, takes its name from Japanese wood block prints.  “Its musical inspiration is from works of Debussy that have to do with water and floating—images I associate with the very lyrical sound of the singing bassoon,” says Ludwig.  “My goal in writing this piece was to create a concerto that Daniel [Matsukawa] can play again and again so that the piece has a life well beyond its premiere. Bassoonists, even the few in Daniel’s league in other orchestras, rarely get the opportunity to perform as soloists because of the lack of repertoire for the instrument. My hope is that this piece will begin to change that.”  A Philadelphia Orchestra commission, Pictures from the Floating World is generously underwritten by Richard Klein, a longtime supporter of the Orchestra.

All three composers will be in residence over the weekend to share their insights into the creative process. Also featured on each of the programs are Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.

  

The Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of innovation in music-making. The Orchestra is focused on inspiring the future while transforming its rich tradition of achievement, seeking to not simply sustain the highest level of artistic quality, but to challenge—and exceed—that level, by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world. 

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly opened his inaugural season as the eighth artistic leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 2012. His highly collaborative style, deeply-rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times has called Nézet-Séguin “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble … has never sounded better.” He is embraced by the musicians of the Orchestra, audiences, and the community itself. His concerts of diverse repertoire attract sold-out houses, and he has established a regular forum for connecting with concert-goers through Post-Concert Conversations.

Under Nézet-Séguin’s leadership the Orchestra returns to recording with a newly-released CD on the Deutsche Grammophon label of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions. In his inaugural season the Orchestra has also returned to the radio airwaves, with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

Philadelphia is home and the Orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center but also those who enjoy the Orchestra’s other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn’s Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music, a National Historic Landmark.

The Philadelphia Orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 the Orchestra has reinvigorated or launched new partnerships with Opera Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (Fringe Festival), Philadanco, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Ridge Theater Company, and stage director James Alexander, among others.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the U.S. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The ensemble annually performs at Carnegie Hall while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail festival.

The Philadelphia Orchestra continues its decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages across the Delaware Valley. Concerts for families and schoolchildren; eZseatU, which allows full-time college students to attend an unlimited number of Orchestra concerts for a $25 annual membership fee; free Neighborhood Concerts; and PreConcert Conversations before every subscription concert are only a few examples of ways in which the Orchestra introduces orchestral music to a new generation of listeners. Musician-led initiatives, including recent highly-successful Cello and Violin Play-Ins, shine a spotlight on the Orchestra’s musicians, as they spread out from the stage into the community, and serve a key role in growing young musician talent and a love of classical music in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors.   

 

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org.

 

Philadelphia Commissions  

October 31 at 8:00 PM – Thursday evening — Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor
Elizabeth Hainen Harp
Jeffrey Khaner Flute 

Bernstein Overture to Candide
Tan Dun Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp, and Orchestra - Philadelphia Orchestra Commission – United States Premiere
Behzad Ranjbaran Flute Concerto - Philadelphia Orchestra Commission – World premiere
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances

 


November 1 at 2:00 PM – Friday afternoon — Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor
Daniel Matsukawa Bassoon
Elizabeth Hainen Harp

Bernstein Overture to Candide
David Ludwig Pictures from the Floating World, for bassoon and orchestra - Philadelphia Orchestra Commission – World premiere
Tan Dun Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp, and Orchestra
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances

 


November 2 at 8:00 PM – Saturday evening — Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor
Daniel Matsukawa Bassoon
Jeffrey Khaner Flute

Bernstein Overture to Candide
David Ludwig Pictures from the Floating World, for bassoon and orchestra
Behzad Ranjbaran Flute Concerto
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances