“I’d never really taken any art classes. The schools I have been in never have any,” said Juana, a 16-year-old from Brownsville in Brooklyn. Juana is one of 14 young Brownsville residents who participated in Transforming Futures, a visual arts curriculum addressing the issue of gun violence created by Young New Yorkers—one of 16 arts organizations participating in NeON Arts, a project of the NYC Department of Probation in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. NeON Arts offers young people in seven New York City communities the chance to explore the arts through a variety of creative projects at local community-based probation offices called Neighborhood Opportunity Networks (NeONs).
“I’d never really taken any art classes. The schools I have been in never have any.”
The Weill Music Institute facilitates the program’s grant-making process, coordinates citywide NeON Arts events, and works with arts organizations and NeON stakeholders to ensure that each project, including planning and implementation, is a collaboration that benefits the entire community. Juana is just one of 250 young people across the city who have participated in the program so far.
“I was always interested in photography,” Juana said. “I like the way it looks, the way it tells a story. It tells a different story depending on what you photograph and how you photograph it.” Juana lives with her mother, father, and one-year-old son. “For the project, we had to interview our friends and family and ask them about what they know about Brownsville and how it has changed. I talked to my mom because she’s lived in Brownsville for a long time. She said things had gotten worse. There are a lot of drugs and guns in this neighborhood. She said the violence is growing.”
The project ended with a public exhibit entitled Love Letters to Brownsville, an interactive art installation based on themes of trust, love, and generosity. “The idea was to create an event that would serve as a way to ask everyone to get along,” Juana said. “The idea was to say ‘Hey, why can’t we be friends? Let’s stop the violence. Let’s live in peace.’”
Dozens of local community members, police officers, and stakeholders from the Brownsville NeON visited the exhibit to celebrate the accomplishments of the participants and view the artwork they produced. Attendees were asked to write notes of adoration to Brownsville that were then tied to a chain-link fence. In return for their love notes, attendees received a rose.
“It taught me to not give up on myself.”
“It was a great day. We all worked really hard on it and we were nervous about how it would turn out,” Juana said. “But when the time finally came, we all really had a great time. A lot of people showed up—more than we expected!” When asked what her time working on the Young New Yorkers project taught her, Juana said, “It taught me to not give up on myself. I am working on graduating from school, and I am interested in becoming a network administrator. The project instructors kept saying to me, when I didn’t know how to do something, ‘Don’t give up, you have to keep trying.’”
For more information, visit carnegiehall.org/NeONArts
We wrap up a busy November with these featured posts.
Relive the first live webcast of a Carnegie Hall presentation, as mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and pinaist David Zobel lead us on A Jourey Through Venice. Watch›
Pop the cork and enjoy five of opera's greatest drinking songs and their intoxicating melodies. Listen›
Rewatch the live webcast of Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Mutter virtuosi.Watch›
Pianist Jeremy Denk discusses his libretto for The Classical Style, and opera with music by Steven Stucky, and the nerdiest love triangle he has ever invented. Watch›
In conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Carnegie Hall's director of artistic planning, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter recently discussed the importance of adding to the core violin repertoire. Read›
Rewatch the live webcast of the superstar duo—violinist Leonidis Kavakos and pianist Yuja Wang. Watch now›
Listen to the live broadcast of San Francisco Symphony with violinist Gil Shaham perform Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 and more. Listen now›
Rewatch Saturday's live webcast of Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang, brought to you via medici.tv. The superstar duo performed Schumann’s passionate Violin Sonata No. 2 and Brahms’s melodic Violin Sonata No. 2, followed by Ravel's charming Violin Sonata and Respighi's Violin Sonata in B Minor, which moves the heart with its haunting slow movement and quickens the pulse with daredevil fireworks in its finale. The free online replay of this webcast will be available for 90 days after the performance.
For more information about medici.tv webcasts of Carnegie Hall concert presentations, visit carnegiehall.org/medici.
Saturday, November 22, 2014 | 8 PM
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Leonidas Kavakos, Violin
Yuja Wang, Piano
BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major
SCHUMANN Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor
RAVEL Violin Sonata (posthumous)
RESPIGHI Violin Sonata in B Minor
Curious to know what our Musical Explorers teachers learned at their professional development workshops this fall? Here is a little overview of the Musical Explorers artists we met during the workshops and some tips they have for exploring their music in the classroom.
Emeline Michel is a New York City–based Haitian singer and a returning artist to the Musical Explorers program. She first gives a quick tutorial on some conversational Haitian Creole phrases. She then sings the two songs that are featured in the Haitian Creole unit of this year’s curriculum: “La karidad,” which teaches movement, and “A.K.I.K.O.,” which was written for a friend of Emeline’s and features a really fun chorus that we learned as well.
The Wiyos is a jug band also based in New York City. The group is very familiar with performing concerts for families in Carnegie Hall and around the city. Have a listen to their song “Who Stole the Lock?” and check out Michael’s washboard instrument, which is composed of “found objects” and makes quite a number of different sounds.
Sofia R. and Sofia T. are childhood friends from Argentina who both enjoy singing and playing percussion! Listen as they sing through their kitchen-themed song “La cocinerita.” After that, try to keep up as they clap through the traditional chacarera and palmas rhythms.
Musical Explorers is a program of the Weill Music Institute that helps children build basic music skills in the classroom as they learn songs from different cultures and reflect on their own communities.
If you missed last night's live broadcast of the San Francisco Symphony, you can now listen to it in its entirety.
Conductor and music director Michael Tilson Thomas led the San Francisco Symphony through a NY premiere of Samuel Adams's Drift and Providence before being joined by soloist Gil Shaham for Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor. The ensemble closed the program with a spellbinding performance of the complete version of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé with the New York Choral Artists. Listen below and follow along with the live webchat.
This concert is part of our Carnegie Hall Live series, a partnership with WQXR and the WFMT Radio Network. Join us on Tuesday, December 9 at 8 PM for the next Carnegie Hall Live broadcast of Daniil Trifonov.
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director and Conductor
Gil Shaham, Violin
New York Choral Artists
Joseph Flummerfelt, Chorus Director
SAMUEL ADAMS Drift and Providence (NY Premiere)
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2
RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé (complete)
Rewatch last night's live webcast of Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Mutter Virtuosi, brought to you via medici.tv. Perspectives artist Anne-Sophie Mutter acted as the soloist and leader of the Mutter Virtuosi, an ensemble of young students and professional string players who are alumni of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation. The free online replay of this webcast will be available for 90 days after the performance.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | 8 PM
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Violin and Leader
BACH Concerto for Two Violins, Strings, and Continuo in D Minor, BWV 1043
ANDRÉ PREVIN Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra (with two Harpsichord interludes) (US Premiere)
VIVALDI The Four Seasons
When pianist and scholar Charles Rosen penned his book The Classical Style, he could not have known that it would become an instant classic (pun intended). It went on to win the 1972 National Book Award and prompted a commotion of musicological debate about his analysis of the Classical era from Mozart to Haydn to Beethoven—even prompting a reissue in 1997 in which the author addressed his critics. Suffice it to say, this was anything but a comedy—at least not until a dinner party where pianist and soon-to-be librettist Jeremy Denk encountered Rosen and found his stupefying wealth of knowledge exactly that: stupefying. It was with a tongue-in-cheek approach that Denk and composer Steven Stucky were co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall to create a comic opera based on Rosen’s book, recruiting director Mary Birnbaum to help bring it all to life at its world premiere last summer at the Ojai Music Festival. This trio of artists recently discussed the opera and the trio of composers at the forefront of the plot in advance of its New York premiere.
What was the inspiration for taking one of musicology’s most-respected—and serious—books and transforming it into a comic opera?
Jeremy Denk: The idea came to me over dinner and was e-mailed to a few friends the next morning as a joke. Gradually, however, as often happens in Haydn and Mozart, the joke began to take itself seriously. No one had done anything like it before, so there was the “why not?” factor. And there was the imagined fun of writing music about music, turning in on itself, making fun of itself, becoming a hall of mirrors. Once I began thinking about it, the possibilities were endless. The story of the creation of the style of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven is an amazing event in cultural history; it has its own drama, its inception, development, crisis, and farewell. So even though a book-length essay seems the most un-operatic thing ever, there is an opera plot hiding in there somewhere. On top of all that, there is the idea of paying homage to one of the best books on music ever written—a true classic about the classics.
What makes it only an opera “of sorts”?
Denk: It’s a “disclaimer element”—we don’t want people coming to this expecting, say, Aida.
Steven Stucky: We are doing several things at once: telling two stories (the quest narrative in which Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven search for Charles; and the codependent love triangle of Dominant, Tonic, and Subdominant); musing on the place of classical music in today’s society; refl ecting (sometimes impiously, naughtily on the perhaps overprecious style of current musical scholarship); and making many, many musical jokes. Much of this does not have a place in traditional opera.
Mary Birnbaum: It’s an opera, punctuated by (spoken) lectures from Rosen himself that are adapted from the actual book. I was delighted by how easily it all translates to the stage. That is a tribute to Rosen’s imagination and intimacy with classical music and, in turn, Jeremy’s and Steven’s.
How do you go about humanizing tonalities (tonic, dominant, subdominant—even the so-called “Tristan” chord)—for a nonmusical audience?
Stucky: We’ve tried to make these characters sharply drawn, both in their lyrics and in their musical styles. So even if their origins in music theory mean nothing to a particular listener, he or she can readily identify Tonic as the overconfident narcissist; Subdominant as the hottie with the smoky voice and soothing, come-hither presence; and the Tristan Chord as the disreputable character in a shabby trench coat with a smoker’s cough and a shady past.
Birnbaum: In his book and in his lectures, Rosen breathes life into many dry-ish musical concepts, including the tonalities. Jeremy followed his lead and created an archetypal character for each: Dominant is a hot mess, Tonic is an arrogant wheeler and dealer, and Subdominant is an earth mother who helps Tonic find a sense of inner peace. Steven’s music makes each of these characters even more specific.
Denk: The thing is, we all know these chords profoundly. Anyone who’s sung “Happy Birthday” knows those three chords and how they function. It’s just the names that are off-putting, distancing. So those parts of the opera are a way of humanizing (and humor-izing) those annoying names.
Would you agree that this work is as much about the place of “Classical” music in today’s culture as it is about the music of the Classical period?
Denk: In the final scene, Steven wrote some extraordinary music that captured—so much more than I ever imagined—a sense of nostalgia and the evanescence of human achievement. This book is about timeless monuments and yet at the end you feel them slipping away into the past. I think that is a serious issue—an important part of life and also an important epiphany contained in the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven.
Is there anything audiences should do to prepare to see the opera?
Birnbaum: Something that was certainly informative to me was to watch Rosen’s lectures on YouTube. He has the most poetic way of analyzing and explaining music.
Denk: To prepare for the opera, I would suggest one or two glasses of wine. Three is possible, depending on the individual. However, I would suggest this for almost any opera.
If Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven saw this performance, what do you think their reaction would be? What about Charles Rosen’s?
Birnbaum: I think Mozart would be delighted, but wish there were more dirty jokes. Haydn would be touched, and Beethoven would overcome his initial dismissiveness and be surprised to find how much he enjoyed it.
Stucky: They might well be as mystified (or even outraged) as they are in the opera itself when they stumble on a dunderheaded musicology symposium. Charles, too, with his very strong opinions, might not have been amused. But Charles’s longtime friend Henri Zerner loved it when he saw the premiere in Ojai.
Denk: My hope is that Charles would see it as the loving tribute that it is. However, the big three composers ... Luckily, lawsuits cannot be filed from eternity.
Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter’s passionate commitment to artistic excellence and dedication to the growth of classical music are core themes in her Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall. In addition to her relationships with great orchestras, conductors, and soloists, Ms. Mutter has invested in the future of classical music by championing new violin repertoire, including premieres of works by Sebastian Currier, André Previn, and Norbert Moret that she features during her six-concert residency. In conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Carnegie Hall’s director of artistic planning, she recently discussed the importance of adding to the core violin repertoire.
Learn more about Anne-Sophie Mutter's Perspectives ›
Throughout your career, you have been at the forefront of expanding the violin repertoire, working with composers to build upon the legacy of those from centuries past.
The importance of expanding the repertoire can’t really be emphasized enough. All these living contemporary composers have not only expanded my own vision of music and of music making, but I think for the audience it’s such an exciting journey to be part of a process where you get to know all these different islands of music, different languages. It’s great that we have the core repertoire, but it’s even greater that audiences are willing and able and so enthusiastic about the fact that we can travel on and have a lot of fun. This April, for example, I’m performing this beautiful piece by Norbert Moret that goes fabulously well with the Berg Concerto. Together, these two pieces will give the audience a very unique insight into how poetic and emotional contemporary music can be.
Your recording career has also been quite prolific—preserving both the classic repertoire as well as the commissions that have since become synonymous with your talent.
It’s great that we have all these recordings. If I hadn’t heard Gidon Kremer play Sofia Gubaidulina’s Offertorium in the early ’80s, maybe it would’ve taken me longer to fall in love with her music and to want to have a violin concerto of hers for myself. The downside of these documents is that because he is the first one who played Offertorium and I was the first one who played my concerto, In tempus praesens, for those in our lifetimes who have to play them after us, it can be difficult because we were the ones who helped bring them to life. Sometimes, for the same generation or even the next, it’s very difficult to break away from that and understand that there are other viewpoints, which might do justice to the piece quite as well.
“Music has to come to life in order to see how it works in time and in space.”
“Music has to come to life in order to see how it works in time and in space.”
How involved are you in the compositional process?
My level of involvement in a piece that is written for me—whether it’s a violin concerto or a trio or a duo or a solo piece—is actually much less exciting. Basically, I’m just there. Having said that, I get the finished score, and of course there still is a lot of leeway. Interestingly enough, as genius as all these composers obviously are, music has to come to life in order to see how it works in time and in space. At the end of the process, when all the notes are written down, the player does have a great say in how the phrasing and the narrative of a piece really evolve, how the tempo relationships between the movements have to go, and how the dynamics work out. There is really quite a lot of input at the end. It’s like Rodin used to say when he was asked, “How do go about it when you see this huge stone? Where do you start? When does this body appear?” He said, “I just take away what disturbs me.” In a way, sometimes in a composition you just have to take away what disturbs you.
Last season, you and your musical partner Lambert Orkis celebrated your 25th anniversary at Carnegie Hall. This season, you celebrate violinist Isaac Stern, who saved the Hall from demolition in 1960.
This year’s recital with Lambert will be dedicated to Isaac Stern’s memory, which is for me a great honor. He came to a few of my recitals at Carnegie Hall. I remember him coming in during one of the breaks and we were discussing chinrests and the position of how high the violin should be. I didn’t even have time to powder my nose or anything before going back out on stage. He was a very intense man and a truly great champion of the violin repertoire.
You have given Carnegie Hall audiences so many memorable moments over the years. What do you take with you from your multiple performances at the Hall?
Growing up as a young musician, there were a few places in the world of music one would dream about, and Carnegie Hall most certainly was that one place. When I was five and decided that I wanted to become a violinist, I thought, “When I’m 40,”—like a hundred years into the future—“maybe one day, when I’m good enough, I’ll play Carnegie Hall.” Of course at the time, that was like going to Mars. But it’s just a wonderful hall. As Herbert von Karajan always used to say, there are the acoustics—which are man-made—but there is also the character and the spirit and the love and the dedication of the souls of so many musicians who have given everything to the music and to the audiences. There have been such magical moments of communication that are unforgettable for the people who have been present at these concerts, as well as for the artists who have been on stage. That’s the mystery of Carnegie Hall. That’s what makes this place so special.
“Maybe I’ll do more Baroque, if I’m able, and if I find the appropriate instrumental answer ... ”
"I am very happy with the ease and versatility with which I can share my content with my audience, clients and business partners alike."