Performance Thursday, May 5, 2011 | 7 PM

120th Anniversary Gala

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Celebrate 120 years of Carnegie Hall—on the very day that it first opened its doors in 1891. As it was at that inaugural gala, this is a star-studded event not to be missed: Ma, Ax, and Shaham perform Beethoven, and the dazzling Audra McDonald joins the orchestra for classic Ellington songs.


  • Audra McDonald, Vocalist
  • Emanuel Ax, Piano
  • Gil Shaham, Violin
  • New York Philharmonic
    Alan Gilbert, Music Director and Conductor
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Cello


  • DVORÁK Carnival Overture, Op. 92
  • BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56
  • ELLINGTON "Solitude"
  • ELLINGTON "Sophisticated Lady"
  • ELLINGTON "On a Turquoise Cloud"
  • ELLINGTON "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing"
  • GERSHWIN An American in Paris


  • Audra McDonald

    Four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald currently stars in the hit ABC television series Private Practice. In addition to her television and theatrical work, the two-time Grammy Award winner maintains a career as a concert and recording artist, appearing regularly on the great stages of the world. In the 2010-2011 season, she participates in the gala festivities to celebrate the opening of the New World Symphony's new Frank Gehry-designed concert hall in Miami, and appears in concert at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and at Sundance. Last season, Ms. McDonald appeared in solo concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony, and celebrated Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia and with the New York Philharmonic in a gala filmed for television broadcast and a DVD release. She was also invited to sing for President and Mrs. Obama in A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House, which was later televised on PBS.

    Ms. McDonald has sung regularly with all the major American orchestras, including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, San Francisco Symphony, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, and the Boston, Chicago, and National symphony orchestras, under many of the world's greatest conductors, such as Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, and Michael Tilson Thomas. In the spring of 2005, she "previewed" a scene from John Adams's not-yet-premiered opera Doctor Atomic, with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by the composer. Overseas, she is a returning guest at the BBC Proms (where she was only the second American in more than 100 years to solo on the famed Last Night of the Proms), and also with the London Symphony Orchestra and Berliner Philharmoniker, and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

    Born into a musical family, Ms. McDonald received her classical vocal training at The Juilliard School.
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  • Emanuel Ax

    Born in Lvov, Poland, pianist Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. He studied at The Juilliard School and Columbia University. In 1974, he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975, he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

    Highlights of the current season include return visits to the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Toronto, and a number of recitals, culminating in a series of three that focus on the music of Schubert at Lincoln Center. In recognition of the bicentenaries of Chopin and Schumann in 2010, Mr. Ax partnered with London's Barbican, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony to commission works by Thomas Adès, Peter Lieberson, and Stephen Prutsman for three recital programs presented in each of those cities with colleagues Yo-Yo Ma and Dawn Upshaw. His collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group continued during the summer of 2009, when he and Mr. Ma partnered in a dance work commissioned by the Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart festivals. He returned to Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston for subscription concerts, and his recent tours have included the New York Philharmonic's 2009 Asian Horizons tour and European tours with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and James Conlon, and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck.

    Mr. Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987. He has received Grammy Awards for two volumes of his cycle of Haydn's piano sonatas, as well as for collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia universities.
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  • Gil Shaham

    One of the foremost violinists of our time, Gil Shaham combines flawless technique with inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit, and is sought after as a concerto, recital, and ensemble artist by the world's leading orchestras, venues, and festivals. In the 2010-2011 season, he continues his long-term exploration of violin concertos of the 1930s with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Toronto symphony orchestras, as well as the Orchestre de Paris, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg, and Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra. Other season highlights include The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's season-opening concert; all-Bach solo recitals in St. Petersburg, Genoa, and Baltimore; and violin and piano repertoire-including the world premiere of a new work by Avner Dorman-with his sister, pianist Orli Shaham, at New York's 92nd Street Y.

    Mr. Shaham's more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs include bestsellers that have appeared on record charts in the US and abroad, winning him multiple Grammy Awards, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d'Or, and Gramophone Editor's Choice. His recent recordings-produced on the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004-comprise Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works, Elgar's Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Butterfly Lovers and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A Major with Yefim Bronfman and Truls Mørk, The Prokofiev Album, The Fauré Album, Mozart in Paris, and works by Haydn and Mendelssohn.

    Gil Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990 and the Avery Fisher Award in 2008. He plays the 1699 "Countess Polignac" Stradivarius.
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  • New York Philharmonic

    Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and one of the oldest in the world; it currently plays some 180 concerts a year, and on May 5, 2010, it performed its 15,000th concert. Music Director Alan Gilbert, The Yoko Nagae Ceschina Chair, began his tenure in September 2009, succeeding a distinguished line of 20th-century musical giants that goes back to Gustav Mahler and Arturo Toscanini. The orchestra has always played a leading role in American musical life, commissioning and premiering works by each era's leading composers. Renowned around the globe, the Philharmonic has appeared in 430 cities in 63 countries-including the February 2008 historic visit to Pyongyang in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , for which the Philharmonic earned the 2008 Common Ground Award for Cultural Diplomacy.

    The Philharmonic, which appears annually on PBS's Live From Lincoln Center, is the only American orchestra to have a 52-week-per-year, nationally syndicated radio series-The New York Philharmonic This Week-which is also streamed on The Philharmonic has made nearly 2,000 recordings since 1917, with more than 500 currently available. The most recent initiative is Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic: 2010-11 Season-downloadable concerts, recorded live, available either as a subscription or as 12 individual releases. Famous for the long-running Young People's Concerts, the Philharmonic has developed a wide range of education programs, among them the School Partnership Program that enriches music education in New York City, and Learning Overtures, which fosters international exchange among educators.

    Alan Gilbert

    Music Director Alan Gilbert, The Yoko Nagae Ceschina Chair, began his tenure at the New York Philharmonic in September 2009. The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he ushered in what The New York Times called "an adventurous new era" at the Philharmonic. In his inaugural season, he introduced a number of new initiatives: the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, held by Magnus Lindberg; The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, held in 2010-2011 by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter; an annual three-week festival, which in 2010-2011 was titled Hungarian Echoes, led by Esa-Pekka Salonen; and CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic's new-music series. In the 2010-2011 season, Mr. Gilbert leads the orchestra on two tours of European music capitals; two performances at Carnegie Hall, including this, the venue's 120th Anniversary Gala; and a staged presentation of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen. Highlights of his inaugural season included major tours of Asia and Europe and an acclaimed staged presentation of Ligeti's Le grand macabre.

    In January 2011, Mr. Gilbert was named Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, a position he assumes in fall 2011. This adds to his responsibilities as the first holder of Juilliard's William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies, establishing Mr. Gilbert as the principal teacher for all conducting majors at the school. He is also Conductor Laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted other leading orchestras in the US and abroad, including the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, Berliner Philharmoniker, Munich's Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. From 2003 to 2006, he served as the first music director of the Santa Fe Opera.

    Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, the Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School. From 1995 to 1997, he was the assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra. In November 2008, he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic. His recordings have received a 2008 Grammy Award nomination and top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. On May 15, 2010, Mr. Gilbert received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music.
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  • Yo-Yo Ma

    Yo-Yo Ma's multifaceted career reflects his search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, coming together with colleagues for chamber music, or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, he seeks connections that stimulate the imagination. As the first Creative Consultant of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in 2009, Mr. Ma serves as a partner to Riccardo Muti to provide collaborative musical leadership and guidance on innovative program development for The Institute for Learning, Access, and Training at the CSO, and for CSO artistic initiatives. Mr. Ma's work focuses on the transformative power that music can have in the lives of individuals, and on increasing the opportunities audiences have to experience music in their communities.

    Born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris, Mr. Ma began cello studies with his father at age four and soon came with his family to New York; later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at The Juilliard School. Mr. Ma also pursued a traditional liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. His numerous awards have included the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), Glenn Gould Prize (1999), National Medal of the Arts (2001), Dan David Prize (2006), Sonning Prize (2006), World Economic Forum's Crystal Award (2008), and Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010). Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the US Department of State in 2002, Mr. Ma has worked with thousands of students worldwide in countries that include Lithuania, Korea, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, and China. He serves as a UN Messenger of Peace and as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the 56th Inaugural Ceremony, at the invitation of President Barack Obama.

    Mr. Ma plays two instruments, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.
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In Celebration of
Carnegie Hall’s 120th Anniversary

On May 5, 1891—120 years ago to the day—Carnegie Hall opened its doors for the first time. The orchestra at that evening’s gala performance was the Symphony Society of New York (also known as the New York Symphony), one of the two ensembles that merged in 1928 to form today’s New York Philharmonic. Tonight, the Philharmonic performs on the occasion of the Hall’s 120th anniversary.

There are only a few places on earth that can truly be considered “magical,” and without doubt Carnegie Hall is one of them. All who have spent time here can attest that its creation was a unique moment in history. What remains amazing, even today, is that nothing in the planning for it would have led anyone to expect such an extraordinary result.

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie made the bold decision to build his Music Hall “uptown,” despite critics who warned that no one would ever travel that far north in New York to go to a concert. His architect—William Burnet Tuthill—had never built a concert hall before, and was likely selected, in part, because he served on the Oratorio Society of New York’s board alongside Carnegie. Having been sent to Europe to study the halls that were considered to be the best, Tuthill proceeded to design something completely different, breaking many rules defined by today’s acousticians. There was little in Carnegie Hall’s genesis to indicate that these plans would ultimately result in the creation of the greatest concert hall in the world. But luckily for all of us who care about music, that’s exactly what happened, and Carnegie Hall would ultimately go on to play a central role in helping to transform New York into the cultural capital that we know today.

For more than a century, Carnegie Hall has been home to the world’s finest artists and ensembles. For musicians, it is a destination that helps define aspirations. For music lovers, it is a place where we are fortunate to experience the extraordinary, each and every day.

It’s our pleasure to mark this special anniversary with an incredible concert, welcoming Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, our historic artistic partner, to the stage to collaborate with exceptional guest artists—Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Manny Ax, and Audra McDonald—all dear friends of Carnegie Hall and our audiences. The program features music by composers whose works have held a special place in the Hall’s history. I can only imagine how pleased Andrew Carnegie would be to know that tonight’s performance—recorded for broadcast on radio, television, and online—will be enjoyed by people around the world.

Thank you for joining us and being a part of Carnegie Hall’s growing history. Here’s to another 120 years and beyond!  

—Clive Gillinson

Program Notes

Gala Details

7 PM  
Gala Concert
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
9 PM  
Gala Dinner-Dance
Grand Ballroom, The Plaza

Gala Chairmen
Mercedes and Sid R. Bass


Gala Co-Chairmen
Suzie and Bruce Kovner
Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis
Tina and Terry Lundgren
Annette and Oscar de la Renta


Honorary Chairmen
Sanford I. Weill
James D. Wolfensohn
Richard A. Debs


Join us on May 5, 2011 to commemorate the 120th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall with an all-star concert at this one-night-only Gala event. Gala attendees will enjoy prime concert seating as well as a dinner-dance at The Plaza with the artists.



Gala Benefit Tickets


Gala tickets include a seat at the concert and admission to a post-concert dinner-dance at The Plaza.

  • Individual Gala Tickets: Tickets are available in the Parquet for $1,500 and in the Prime Parquet for $2,500 each. Tickets are also available in the Prime Parquet for $5,000.


  • Gala Tables: Patron Tables are $15,000 and include 10 seats in the Parquet and a table at the Dinner-Dance. Vice-Chair Tables ($25,000) and Co-Chair Tables ($50,000) include either eight seats in a First Tier Box or 10 seats in the Prime Parquet and a table at the Dinner-Dance.

Place your reservation online or call the Special Events office at 212-903-9679. Please note that exact seating assignments will not be determined until the month of the event.

Black Tie  

To reserve benefit tickets, please call the Gala office at 212-903-9679.

120th Anniversary Gala benefit tickets directly support Carnegie Hall’s artistic and education programs.

Major support for the Great Performances broadcast is provided by The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, the Irene Diamond Fund, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, the Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Victor and Sono Elmaleh, Vivian Milstein, the Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Joseph A. Wilson, and PBS, with additional funding in memory of Virginia and Leonard Marx.
The television broadcast of this concert is supported by S. Donald Sussman, with additional support to Carnegie Hall from the National Endowment for the Arts.
This performance is part of Non-Subscription Events.