Performance Thursday, November 6, 2014 | 8 PM

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Shakespeare’s magic has inspired composers from the early Baroque to the present day. Purcell’s Suite from A Midsummer Night’s Dream evokes Shakespeare’s fairy kingdom, while Tchaikovsky’s lushly Romantic depiction of the sea brings the poet’s The Tempest to life. Nocturnal events are at the heart of works by Dallapiccola and Mendelssohn. Piccola musica notturna is an evocative portrayal of a summer night. Otherworldly events make Mendelssohn’s setting of Goethe’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Witches’ Night) a thrilling choral depiction of the night witches and demons.


  • Orchestra of St. Luke's
    Pablo Heras-Casado, Principal Conductor
  • Elizabeth DeShong, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Joseph Kaiser, Tenor
  • Luca Pisaroni, Bass-Baritone
  • Musica Sacra
    Kent Tritle, Music Director


  • PURCELL Suite from A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • TCHAIKOVSKY The Tempest
  • DALLAPICCOLA Piccola musica notturna
  • MENDELSSOHN Die erste Walpurgisnacht

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 50,000 visitors, including more than 300 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  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 that emphasizes musical excellence and social development, in partnership with Police Athletic League (PAL) and public schools in the Clinton / Hudson Yards neighborhood.

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    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 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, 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 Mozartwoche. He makes his debut with NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, and continues his collaboration with Ensemble intercontemporain and Freiburger Barockorchester. He also conducts the annual televised Advent Concert of the Staatskapelle Dresden. Opera engagements include returns to the Metropolitan Opera (Carmen), Festspielhaus Baden-Baden (La traviata), Teatro Real (world premiere of Mauricio Sotelo's El publico), and Dutch National Opera with Sasha Waltz and Guests (Orfeo).

    Highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Royal Concertgebouw, and Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestras; Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich; the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; Boston Symphony Orchestra; The Cleveland Orchestra; Philharmonia Orchestra; Mahler Chamber Orchestra; and Deutsche Oper Berlin. He has also appeared at the Salzburger Festspiele 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, for which he is recording Tchaikovsky's The Tempest with Orchestra of St. Luke's. Recent releases include Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Schubert's symphonies nos. 3 and 4 with Freiburger Barockorchester-which won a 2014 ECHO Klassik award-and an album celebrating the legendary Farinelli. He also recorded an album that features Plácido Domingo in baritone arias by Giuseppe Verdi. His 2011 DVD of Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny received the Diapason d'Or.

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  • Elizabeth DeShong

    Elizabeth DeShong's operatic and orchestral engagements during the 2014-2015 season include performances at the Canadian Opera Company as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Vienna State Opera as Angelina in La Cenerentola, Los Angeles Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival as Hermia in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. On the concert stage, Ms. DeShong sings Elgar's The Kingdom with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, as well as Mozart's Requiem with the Houston Symphony and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

    Last season at the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. DeShong sang two Hermias: in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and in the pastiche opera The Enchanted Island. In addition, she appeared as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, a role she also sings at San Francisco Opera. She performed Handel's Messiah with the National Symphony Orchestra; Bernstein's Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah," with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Marin Alsop; and the Mozart Requiem with both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

    Ms. DeShong's engagements in the 2012-2013 season included Angelina in La Cenerentola at the Glyndebourne Festival, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel at Lyric Opera of Chicago, her Michigan Opera Theatre debut as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the First Norn in Götterdämmerung at the Metropolitan Opera. She also made her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Bach's Cantata No. 60 under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as Marta in the Dutch premiere of John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and sang Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs with The Cleveland Orchestra.

    The recipient of numerous awards, Ms. DeShong was named the Washington National Opera's Artist of the Year in 2010 for her debut performance as the Composer in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. Her portrayal of Maffio Orsini in San Francisco Opera's production of Lucrezia Borgia was recently released on DVD by EuroArts Music and Naxos of America.

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  • Joseph Kaiser

    Joseph Kaiser is recognized by audiences for his beauty of tone, intelligence of programming, and innate sense of style and elegance. He is internationally acclaimed as one of the most gifted artists of his generation, and enjoys success in opera, oratorio, and concert performances throughout North America and Europe.

    In the 2014-2015 season, Mr. Kaiser makes debuts at Zurich Opera, Opéra de Montréal, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and returns to the Bavarian State Opera and Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke's. Highlights of recent seasons include performances of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Mozart's Requiem with Ivor Bolton and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra under Louis Langrée and Orchestra of St. Luke's with Iván Fischer at Carnegie Hall.

    Mr. Kaiser's other performances have included Bruckner's Te Deum with Daniel Barenboim and the orchestra and chorus of Teatro alla Scala; Bruckner's Mass No. 3 in F Minor with Marek Janowski and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle; Britten's War Requiem and Cantata Misericordium with James Conlon and the symphony orchestras of the University of California-Los Angeles, University of Southern California, and The Colburn School; Berlioz's Te Deum with Charles Dutoit and the NHK Symphony Orchestra; Beethoven's Fidelio with Jérémie Rhorer conducting Le Cercle de l'Harmonie; and performances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Matthew Halls, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Bernard Haitink, and the St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson.

    Operatic highlights include leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Bavarian State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as well as the Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence festivals. Mr. Kaiser has appeared at the Caramoor Festival in a joint program with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (commercially available on the Bridge Records label), in Chicago at the Chicago Humanities Festival, in Montreal with the André Turp Society, and on the Debut series of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

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  • Luca Pisaroni

    Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni has established himself as one of the most captivating and versatile singers performing today. Since his debut at age 26 with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Salzburg Festival, Mr. Pisaroni has performed at many of the world's leading opera houses, concert halls, and festivals.

    Following a series of critically acclaimed performances of Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival, Mr. Pisaroni begins the 2014-2015 season as Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at Teatro Real in Madrid-a role that he also performs at the Vienna State Opera and San Francisco Opera. Also this season, Mr. Pisaroni sings the title role in Le nozze di Figaro at Bavarian State Opera and at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni led by Alan Gilbert, and performs the role of Enrico VIII in Donizetti's Anna Bolena at the Zurich Opera and Vienna State Opera.

    Concert appearances include Haydn's Die Schöpfung with Daniel Harding, Beethoven's Missa solemnis with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and Stravinsky's Pulcinella with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas. He also performs a series of recitals with pianist Wolfram Rieger at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall, and Vancouver Recital Society.

    Mr. Pisaroni's discography includes DVDs of Don Giovanni and Rinaldo from the Glyndebourne Festival on the EMI label, Le nozze di Figaro with Opéra National de Paris, and a Deutsche Grammophon recording of Don Giovanni with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Recent releases include a Decca recording of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra alongside a spectacular cast that includes Thomas Hampson, Joseph Calleja, and Kristine Opolais, as well as a Sony recording of Don Giovanni from the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden with Anna Netrebko and Erwin Schrott. Mr. Pisaroni lives in Vienna with his wife, Catherine. Their dogs, Lenny 2.0 and Tristan, are the singer's constant traveling companions.

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  • Musica Sacra

    Founded in 1964, Musica Sacra is the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York City. Founded by Richard Westenburg and now under the artistic leadership of Kent Tritle, the mission of Musica Sacra is to create definitive, professional choral performances of the highest caliber for the widest possible audience. It supports its mission by presenting concerts; recording, commissioning, and performing new choral works; and educating audiences, students, and the general public in the appreciation and history of choral music.

    Musica Sacra presents performances each year at prestigious venues throughout New York, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The chorus's annual performances of Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall are a New York holiday tradition. In addition, Musica Sacra is frequently invited to perform with the New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and concert presenters throughout the region.

    In spring 2015, Musica Sacra will release its second recording under the direction of Kent Tritle: an album of vocal works by award-winning composer Robert Paterson on the American Modern Recordings label. This follows the 2012 release of Messages to Myself on the MSR Classics label, featuring works by Daniel Brewbaker, Michael Gilbertson, Zachary Patten, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Christopher Theofanidis. These recordings join a growing discography that includes recordings on the BMG, RCA, and Deutsche Grammophon labels.

    For more information, visit

    Now entering his eighth season as music director of Musica Sacra, Kent Tritle is one of America's leading choral conductors. Concurrently serving as director of cathedral music and organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and music director of the Oratorio Society of New York, Mr. Tritle is also director of choral activities at the Manhattan School of Music and a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and American Symphony Orchestra, and is in demand internationally as a recitalist. Mr. Tritle has made more than a dozen recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI, and MSR Classics labels.

    For more information, visit

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Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgisnacht (Overture)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe | Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Conductor

At a Glance

HENRY PURCELL  Suite from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Purcell called his late theatrical work The Fairy Queen, but it was a typical “semi-opera” of the late 17th century, consisting of spoken play with actors (in this case a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream heavily adapted, apparently by Elkanah Settle) alternating with a series of musical sections with elaborate staging effects, totally unrelated to the plot of the play. Such a production guaranteed that audiences got their money’s worth.


After Tchaikovsky had started to make a name for himself with his fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet (generally regarded as his first masterpiece) and first two symphonies, his friend, critic Vladimir Stasov, helped him map out a new piece, evidently turning once more to Shakespeare in the hope that lightning would strike twice. Again choosing to write a purely orchestral work as an “overture” that evoked particular characters and incidents from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest may lack the narrative drive of the earlier score, which is heard far more often, but it contains the romantic heart of the story, which clearly attracted the composer most strongly.

LUIGI DALLAPICCOLA Piccola musica notturna

Slyly taking his title from Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik (both translate as “A little night music”), Dallapiccola composed a short, evocative night piece for a festival of music to be presented for young audiences in 1954.

Felix Mendelssohn  Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Op. 60

Although Mendelssohn is not generally regarded as a particularly dramatic composer (his only “operas” are short, lighthearted works written in his youth), his concert setting of Goethe’s pantheistic poem about pagan ritual in the dark forests of northern Europe betrays a real theatrical character. It played a large role in the development of secular cantatas for chorus, soloists, and orchestra in the Romantic era and beyond.

Program Notes


Pablo Heras-Casado discusses the concert program.

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