Which movement will move you?
The All-Star Orchestra programs feature beloved classical favorites along with new works by American composers—the masterpieces of the future. Through interviews and commentary, Gerard Schwarz, the All-Star musicians, and special guests provide background and share the living tradition of each score, enabling a deeper appreciation of the music and a place to start your personal journey.
Rhapsody in Blue – Visions of New York
Gershwin’s immortal Rhapsody in Blue is featured in the rarely heard original jazz-orchestra version from the 1924 premiere, with rising-star pianist Lola Astanova. This iconic work will be paired with Aaron Copland’s 1925 jazz-age classic “Music for the Theatre.” Robert Beaser’s “Ground O” offers a modern musical perspective of New York after 9/11.
1001 Arabian Nights – The Legend of Scheherazade
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic orchestral showpiece Scheherazade is based on fantastical tales that – according to tradition – were told by the ingenious wife of a cruel Sultan so as to prolong her life for 1001 nights. Concertmaster David Kim conveys the voice of the wily heroine in virtuosic violin solos. Take a musical magic carpet ride between the worlds of Arabian folklore and Russian romanticism.
A Hero’s Life in Music
Richard Strauss’ orchestral autobiography from 1899, Ein Heldenleben, is a unique documentary in music, scored for extra-large orchestra – a sonic spectacular, and a showcase for the All-Star musicians, with extended solos by Concertmaster David Kim and Principal Horn Erik Ralske. In this highly pictorial music, the listener follows the “Hero” as he asserts his independence, falls in love, confronts his critics, engages in battle, creates a legacy of peace, and eventually comes to life’s end.
Mozart and a World-Premiere
Mozart’s magical “Posthorn Serenade” is followed by the World-Premiere of Samuel Jones’ Violin Concerto with renowned soloist Anne Akiko Meyers performing on the legendary Vieuxtemps Guarneri violin. This rare event of a classical music world-premiere on national TV will showcase the collaboration between composer, soloist, and conductor in bringing a brand-new concerto to life.
The Emmy-award-winning programs of Season I can be viewed here: The All-Star Orchestra on WNET/Thirteen
Program #1 Music for the Theatre
The legendary impresario Serge Diaghilev of Les Ballet Russes commissioned from Stravinsky and Ravel some of the greatest music for the ballet. His influence stretched from St. Petersburg to Paris to the New York City Ballet founded by Diaghilev’s collaborator Georges Balanchine. Former NYCB Composer in Residence Bright Sheng captures the beauty of the dance with his Prelude to Black Swan.
Program #2 What Makes a Masterpiece?
This program explores the creative process, tracing the genesis of Beethoven’s iconic symphony, and the development of a new work by a modern master. Introductory features demonstrate how short rhythmic and melodic motives evolve into vast symphonic organisms. Interviews include leading Beethoven scholars and the All-Star musicians.
Program #3 The New World and Its Music
Inspired by American dreams and legends, Dvořák created some of his greatest works while living in the United States, above all the “New World” Symphony. This program illuminates the multiple stories and influences – Native American, African-American and Czech –that Dvořák transformed in his most beloved work. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Avanti! offers a contemporary interpretation of the American archetype of “moving on.”
Program #4 Politics and Art
Music has sometimes reflected, and at other times challenged repressive ideologies. Shostakovich abandoned the premiere of his challenging 4th Symphony for fear of reprisals from the Stalinist government. His triumphant 5th Symphony was next, and the authorities were pleased. To this day the 5th is Shostakovich’s most popular symphony. What is its message? What does “political music” mean today?
Program #5 Relationships in Music
Robert Schumann’s wife Clara was herself a gifted pianist and composer. She became a lifelong friend and source of inspiration for Schumann’s protégé Johannes Brahms. This program will explore the turbulent musical and emotional relationships between these three, and the masterpieces that they produced.
Program #6 The Living Art Form
This program explores the creation of new concertos and the artistic process. Outstanding young soloists and leading American composers are featured in performance and in interviews.
Program #7 Music’s Emotional Impact
This program delves into Tchaikovsky’s dramatic personal life, his brief marriage, and his intense correspondence with his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, whom he never met, and to whom he dedicated his 4th Symphony. The dramatic brass fanfares that for Tchaikovsky symbolized Fate find a modern echo in David Stock’s Blast!
Program #8 Mahler: Love, Sorrow and Transcendence
Mahler’s turbulent passions are expressed through his music. His settings of poems by Friedrich Rueckert explore themes of love, nature, and otherworldliness. Mahler was haunted throughout his life by the premonition of his own death. The first movement of his 2nd Symphony, which Mahler called “Totenfeier” (“Funerary Rites”), draws stark contrasts between the composer’s premonition of doom, and his vision of life. Modern reflections on these themes can be found in Adieu by Bernard Rands and Of Paradise and Light by Augusta Read Thomas.