In a world of music where we are so often looking back into the past, Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary celebrations send a clear message about the importance of looking forward, particularly when it comes to programming. To mark each of the years since it first opened its doors in 1891, Carnegie Hall has commissioned 125 new works to be premiered throughout the 2015–2020 seasons.
So where do we expect this new music to go? This question was put to both established and emerging composers who have recently been commissioned by Carnegie Hall.
This article first appeared in Carnegie Hall: 125 Years of an Iconic Music Venue’s Most Remarkable People and Memorable Events, available at carnegiehall.org/125th_Anniversary_Magazine.
In a world of music where we are so often looking back into the past, Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary celebrations send a clear message about the importance of looking forward, particularly when it comes to programming. To mark each of the years since it first opened its doors in 1891, Carnegie Hall has commissioned 125 new works to be premiered throughout the 2015-2020 seasons.
Photo of Kevin Puts by David White.
In this video, Principal Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado leads the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in a colorful performance of Toldrá’s Vistas al mar.
This performance was captured on March 10, 2016 in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.
Now in its first year, Carnegie Hall’s PlayUSA provides grants and programmatic support to a range of instrumental music education projects across the country designed to reach low income and underserved students on a local level. In addition to financial resources and training, participating organizations have access to a larger network of professionals—including Carnegie Hall staff members—who share best practices in the music education field.
“In launching PlayUSA, we are partnering with organizations that are helping to address the need for more high-quality instrumental music instruction, serving students who normally do not have access to it,” says Sarah Johnson, director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “We not only want to support each program, but also create a robust community of organizations across the country focused on this work so we can learn from one another and make note of successes and milestones achieved in each PlayUSA location.”
"... we are partnering with organizations that are helping to addressthe need for more high-quality instrumental music instruction,serving students who normally do not have access to it."
Three projects have been selected for the inaugural year of PlayUSA, benefiting students in Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana.
The Tocando After School Music Program is the most recent education project of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Tocando (“to play”) is designed to engage disconnected youth at elementary schools through intensive music instruction, academic tutoring, and nutritional snacks. Funding from PlayUSA supports the expansion of Tocando to a second location in El Paso, while also providing for teaching artists and professional development.
In Ohio, the Columbus All City Orchestra is the result of a long-term partnership between the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Columbus City Schools. PlayUSA has allowed the CSO to expand access to sustained, high-quality music instruction for underserved students through a pilot program that provides private lessons with CSO musicians. “It is our hope that by offering private lessons,” says CSO’s Director of Education Jeani Stahler, “we will be able to increase the number of students auditioning for and performing in our youth orchestra, ensuring that the ensemble is representative of our entire community.”
The third project selected for PlayUSA’s first year is Music for Life, an initiative of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) in which disadvantaged youth are offered the opportunity to study music intensively throughout the year in private and small-group settings with both LPO musicians and peers from the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestras. In addition to offsetting costs for music stands, books, and fees to engage artist mentors, PlayUSA provides instruments for students in the New Orleans area.
“These projects and organizations,” Johnson concludes, “are focused on providing sustained training and music education opportunities to a diverse group of talented and motivated students, placing musical instruments in the hands of young people with limited access.”
Watch the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform an excerpt from Debussy’s La mer led by conductor Valery Gergiev.
This performance was captured on February 26, 2016 in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.
Watch more performance videos captured on Carnegie Hall stages.
On Saturday, May 21, Carnegie Hall celebrates families by offering free interactive and fun musical activities in the Resnick Education Wing. Families can participate in songwriting workshops, explore a sound playground, join in on sing-alongs, and build instruments and play them in an ensemble. There will also be opportunities to take in professional performances in the marvelous Weill Music Room.
Saturday, May 21 at 12 PM–4 PMDoors open at 11:30 AM. RSVP is required.
Learn more about the day's activities.
Resnick Education Wing at Carnegie Hall
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James Jolly has always been fascinated by the marriage of music and tech. But, he argues, the past points to a future that is unlikely to be one composed by robots.
The year is 1815. You reach gingerly toward a piano and press middle C. The note rings out, filling the room before the sound decays and fades away. And that’s it. The year is 2015. You reach out toward the piano and press middle C. But already you are faced with a host of possibilities: Is the piano actually an acoustic instrument or a piece of electronic equipment that, if programmed, can sound like a piano? Do you want to record it? Do you want to broadcast it? Do you want to sample the sound? In short, the possibilities are endless. Avenues that even 40 years ago were closed to all but those with access to a serious electronics studio are now within anyone’s reach: All you need is a computer …
Technology has always played a major role in music, whether it’s the development of instruments with the introduction of new materials and techniques for construction or, later, the ability to simulate the sound of “real” instruments or the ability to create a whole new palette of “artificial” sounds. Even the very act of writing down the notes has moved on from the sheet of music paper to a program that does the job for you (and even creates the individual parts if your music is for a number of players).
Once upon a time, a composer would have to rely on the goodwill of friends to gain a reasonable idea of how the finished work might sound. With the arrival of MIDI technology in the early 1980s, the sound of many instruments playing together could be simply synthesized (albeit with a rather sterile result). Now, a composer can piece together an entire “symphonic” creation without the services of a single human player—and many composers have been creating extraordinary scores doing just that, or pretty close to it, for years (think Hans Zimmer and his movie scores from the turn of the millennium onward).
The irony, in the latter part of the 20th century, is that as the sheer expertise of players and the technical facility of musicians (like athletes) became ever more impressive, we stopped and looked backward. “How did the music sound when Bach or Mozart played it themselves?” was the question that energized a generation of interpreters from Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt via Christopher Hogwood and Sir John Eliot Gardiner to today’s young “period-instrument” practitioners.
Making the old new became the watchword and, today, infuses music-making even when that spirit of re-discovery is not to the fore.
Can we predict what the future has in store for composers? Probably not, but what we can be sure of is that the need to express energizes the creative spirit. With the burning need to convey that message, the medium is sure to develop. As humans, we have a remarkable hunger for the new, and music is one field of creativity, utterly abstract, where machines simply can’t replace us: The human heart will always beat.
Illustration by Daniel Mrgan
I grew up loving classical music and had developed a passion for Vladimir Horowitz’s recordings. It was 1966 and I was 29 years old visiting in New York City when I read that Horowitz would be preforming at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, December 10 at 3 PM. Not realizing that tickets would be at a premium, I talked my friend into walking over to Carnegie Hall at 1:15 PM to buy ours. It was unbelievable. The lines were stretched for blocks. People had actually stayed all night to be assured of entry.
As I stood on the sidewalk in front of the entrance doors (looking forlorn and sad, I am sure) the doorman beckoned to me from the doorway. I walked up to him and he asked, “Why so sad, my dear?” I responded that I had my heart and soul all set for the Horowitz performance and had no idea that it would be sold out. “Stay right here,” the kind man said. “When the doors open, you will be the first one in for the standing-room–only section.”
It was true. I was at the concert of my lifetime all because of the doorman’s kindness. He could never have imagined what he did for me. Horowitz’s music was spellbinding and I had the opportunity of celebrating Carnegie Hall’s diamond jubilee with a lifetime memory.
Missed Saturday's live webcast of Yuja Wang's recital, or just want to watch it again? The free online replay of this webcast will be available for 90 days after the performance on medici.tv. Wang performed two Brahms ballades, Schumann's Kreisleriana, and Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata.
For more information about medici.tv webcasts of Carnegie Hall concert presentations, visit carnegiehall.org/medici.
Additionally, listen to the live audio broadcast of this concert on WQXR, co-hosted by WNYC's John Schaefer and New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinetist Anthony McGill:
Saturday, May 14 | 8 PMYuja Wang
Yuja Wang, Piano
BRAHMS Ballade in D Minor, Op. 10, No. 1
BRAHMS Ballade in D Major, Op. 10, No. 2
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op. 16
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier"
Did you know that pianist Van Cliburn was the first to win the quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition? How about he’s the only classical musician to have a ticket-tape parade in New York City in his honor? Watch Gino Francesconi talk about Van Cliburn’s accomplishments in under 60 seconds.
"People are impressed that CYSO has its own app. InstantEncore makes it very easy for us to create and maintain an engaging mobile presence. The At-The-Event feature has been particularly great for prompting people to interact with us via social media."