Performance Thursday, April 23, 2015 | 8 PM

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto makes great demands on the soloist, especially the wrenching cadenza that opens the final movement—a harrowing prelude that sets up a fierce danse macabre that concludes the work. Soloist Alisa Weilerstein has been praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for her “wonderfully large and expressive string tone.” Stravinsky’s piquant Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Beethoven’s immortal Symphony No. 5 frame the program.


  • Orchestra of St. Luke's
    Pablo Heras-Casado, Principal Conductor
  • Alisa Weilerstein, Cello


  • STRAVINSKY Symphonies of Wind Instruments
  • SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto No. 2
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Orchestra of St. Luke's

    Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's foremost and most versatile orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 70 concerts each year--including its series of orchestral concerts at Carnegie Hall, chamber music series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and summer residency at the Caramoor Music Festival. OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, including four this season; has given more than 170 world, US, and New York premieres; and appears on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado, named 2014 Conductor of the Year by Musical America, is OSL's principal conductor.

    Celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, OSL began as a chamber ensemble based at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village. Today, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble consists of 21 virtuoso artists who perform a diverse repertoire and make up OSL's artistic core.

    OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City's premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, including more than 400 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and schoolchildren at its home each year for free community events.

    Through its Community & Education programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free, interactive events at The DiMenna Center; provides chamber music coaching for adults; and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL), an intensive in- and after-school instrumental coaching program emphasizing musical excellence and social development, in partnership with community organizations and public schools in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

    For more information, visit

    Pablo Heras-Casado

    Musical America's 2014 Conductor of the Year, Pablo Heras-Casado enjoys an unusually varied career that encompasses the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically informed performance, and cutting-edge contemporary scores. He has served as principal conductor of Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City since the 2012-2013 season, and recently renewed his position through 2016-2017. In 2014, he was appointed principal guest conductor of Teatro Real in Madrid.

    In 2014-2015, Mr. Heras-Casado returns to the London Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Mariinsky Theatre, and Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He also appears at the Mozarteum Salzburg, where he is invited annually for both the Dialogues Festival and Mozart Week; makes his debut with NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg; continues his collaboration with Ensemble intercontemporain and the Freiburger Barockorchester; and conducts the annual televised Advent Concert of the Staatskapelle Dresden. Opera projects include returns to the Metropolitan Opera (Carmen), Festspielhaus Baden-Baden (La traviata), Teatro Real (world premiere of Mauricio Sotelo's El Público), and Dutch National Opera with Sasha Waltz and guests (Orfeo).

    Highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Berliner Philharmoniker; the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Royal Concertgebouw, and Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestras; Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; the Cleveland and Philharmonia orchestras; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Mahler Chamber Orchestra; and Deutsche Oper Berlin. He has also appeared at the Salzburg Festival and Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and is a laureate of the 2007 Lucerne Festival conductors' forum, where he returned in 2013 to co-direct the festival's Academy at the invitation of Pierre Boulez.

    Mr. Heras-Casado records for Deutsche Grammophon's Archiv Produktion-for which he is an Archiv Ambassador-and harmonia mundi. Recent releases include Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Schubert's symphonies nos. 3 and 4 with the Freiburger Barockorchester--which won a 2014 ECHO Klassik award--and an album celebrating legendary castrato Farinelli. He also recorded an album featuring Plácido Domingo in baritone arias by Verdi. His 2011 DVD of Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny received the Diapason d'Or.

    More Info

  • Alisa Weilerstein

    The recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship, American cellist Alisa Weilerstein is an exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics. Named BBC Music Magazine's Recording of the Year in 2013, her label debut featured the Elgar and Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin. On her celebrated second Decca release, Ms. Weilerstein played Dvořák's Cello Concerto, which she also performed with the New York Philharmonic earlier this season. Other orchestral highlights include Elgar with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas and Milwaukee symphony orchestras, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo's NHK Symphony; Haydn on a German tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra; and Shostakovich with England's Hallé Orchestra and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. In recitals in Boston and Aspen, as well as at London's Wigmore Hall, she showcases repertoire from Solo, her new Decca compilation of unaccompanied 20th-century cello music. The album's centerpiece is Kodály's Sonata, a signature work that she also performs on the soundtrack of If I Stay, a 2014 feature film in which she makes a cameo appearance as herself.

    Ms. Weilerstein's career milestones include an emotionally devastating account of Elgar's Cello Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Daniel Barenboim in England and a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. An ardent champion of new music, she has worked with Osvaldo Golijov and Matthias Pintscher, and premiered works by Lera Auerbach and Joseph Hallman. She appears at major music festivals worldwide, and regularly collaborates with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and the El Sistema music education program.

    A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Columbia University, Ms. Weilerstein has received honors that include Lincoln Center's 2008 Martin E. Segal prize and the 2006 Leonard Bernstein Award. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she is a celebrity advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 (Allegro)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe | Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Conductor
Warner Classics

At a Glance

IGOR STRAVINSKY  Symphonies of Wind Instruments

Listeners who come to this remarkable work of 1920 (conceived as a tribute to the memory of Debussy) from Stravinsky’s luxuriant early ballets inevitably receive a great shock. Gone are the fullness of sonority, visceral energy, fragments of folk tunes, and thunderous climaxes. What is left seems, at first hearing, cold, willfully dissonant, harsh, and grating. Ensuing decades gave listeners the experience of hearing later Stravinsky, and the opportunity to realize that this score greatly anticipates the techniques and style of his music for at least the next three decades. It is not “cuddly” music, but it is strong and powerful.

Dmitri Shostakovich   Cello Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op. 126

Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 has long been one of the most frequently performed works of its type from a 20th-century composer. He wrote the Concerto No. 2 just seven years later, yet its reception was far more muted, and it is heard far less often than the first. This largely has to do with the change in the composer’s style as he approached his late years, beset by issues of health and, even more, an evident sense that his musical world was once again closing down after a period (following the death of Stalin in 1953) in which he seemed to express his feelings more openly. In the last decade of his life, Shostakovich wrote music that was increasingly inner-directed, avoiding grand statements and allowing (even inviting) listeners to come to their own conclusions as to its message.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

Almost from the day of its first performance, Beethoven’s Fifth has been regarded as the symphony, the absolute exemplification of what the word means and what makes a musical expression “symphonic.” It has been connected with many non-musical ideas—most notably Churchill’s “V for victory” gesture during World War II, thanks to the coincidence that the rhythm of the opening four notes corresponds to the Morse code signal for “V.” But more than anything else, the symphony created a kind of internal drama, one marking a course from a dark beginning in the minor mode to a glorious illumined close in the major, taken to express a moral quality—a kind of combat from darkness to light. Many composers have been captivated by it, many have attempted something similar, but Beethoven’s example remains supreme.

Program Notes
This performance is part of Orchestra of St. Luke's.