Performance Thursday, April 7, 2016 | 8 PM

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The music on this concert shares an English connection. Purcell was one of the country’s greatest masters and portrayed a vast range of emotion in his vocal music, evidenced in Dido’s Lament from his opera Dido and Aeneas. More than a century later, Haydn was the toast of London. His Symphony No. 98, a work with a tender second movement that’s thought to be a memorial to Mozart, was performed during his 1792 visit to tremendous acclaim.


  • Orchestra of St. Luke's
    Nicholas McGegan, Conductor
  • Susan Graham, Mezzo-Soprano


  • HAYDN Symphony No. 75
  • PURCELL Bess of Bedlam
  • PURCELL "Music for a while"
  • PURCELL Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas
  • BRITTEN Phaedra
  • HAYDN Symphony No. 98

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 most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 80 concerts each year-including its Carnegie Hall orchestra series, chamber-music series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and Caramoor Summer Season. In its 41-year history, OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works; given more than 175 world, US, and New York City premieres; and appeared on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado is OSL's principal conductor.

    OSL grew out of a chamber ensemble that began giving concerts at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village in 1974. Today, the 21 virtuoso artists of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble 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 Education and Community 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 music programs at The DiMenna Center, provides chamber-music coaching for adult amateurs; 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 instruction program that emphasizes musical excellence and social development, in partnership with community organizations and public schools in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

    Nicholas McGegan

    As he embarks on his fourth decade on the podium, Nicholas McGegan is recognized for his probing and revelatory explorations of music of all periods. He has served as music director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for more than 30 years, and continues as principal guest conductor of the Pasadena Symphony.

    Best known as a Baroque and Classical specialist, Mr. McGegan's approach-intelligent, infused with joy, and never dogmatic-has led to appearances with many of the world's major orchestras. At home in opera houses, Mr. McGegan shone new light on nearly 20 Handel operas as the artistic director and conductor of the Göttingen International Handel Festival for 20 years (1991-2011), and on the Mozart canon as principal guest conductor at the Scottish Opera in the 1990s.

    Mr. McGegan's 2015-2016 season features appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (with which he has appeared annually for 20 years); St. Louis Symphony; BBC Scottish, RTÉ National, and New Zealand symphony orchestras; The Cleveland Orchestra and Blossom Music Festival; and The Juilliard School. In addition, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performs Scarlatti's La gloria di primavera under his direction at Carnegie Hall and throughout California's Orange County.

    Mr. McGegan's extensive discography features eight releases on the Philharmonia Baroque's label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions (PBP), including the 2011 Grammy Award-nominated recording of Haydn's symphonies nos. 88, 101, and 104.

    Mr. McGegan was born in England and educated at Cambridge and Oxford. He was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) "for services to music overseas." Most recently, he was invited to join the board of Early Music America. Other honors include the Halle Handel Prize, the Order of Merit of the State of Lower Saxony (Germany), the Medal of Honour of the City of Göttingen, and a declaration of "Nicholas McGegan Day" by the Mayor of San Francisco in recognition of his work with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. In 2013, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music awarded him an honorary doctorate of music. 

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  • Susan Graham

    Susan Graham rose to the highest echelon of international artists within just a few years of her professional debut, mastering an astonishing range of repertoire and genres along the way. Her operatic roles span four centuries, from Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which was written especially for her. She won a Grammy Award for her collection of Ives songs, and her recital repertoire is so broad that 14 composers from Purcell to Sondheim are represented on her most recent album, Virgins, Vixens & Viragos. This distinctly American artist has also been recognized throughout her career as one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music. Although a native of Texas, Ms. Graham was awarded the French government's prestigious Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.

    Among the highlights of her 2015-2016 season, Ms. Graham made her role debut as Countess Geschwitz in William Kentridge's new production of Berg's modernist masterpiece Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera. She returned to the Met to star in the plum "trouser" role of Prince Orlofsky in Johann Strauss II's sparkling operetta Die Fledermaus, which James Levine conducted for the first time in his 45-year Met career. She celebrated New Year's Eve with the New York Philharmonic in a program titled La Vie Parisienne. She gives spring recitals in Boston's Celebrity Series and at London's Wigmore Hall, then caps her season in May by singing Brahms's Alto Rhapsody with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas.

    In addition to Virgins, Vixens & Viragos, Ms. Graham's solo albums include Un frisson français, a program of French song recorded with pianist Malcolm Martineau; C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour!, an album of 20th-century operetta rarities; and La Belle Époque, an award-winning collection of songs by Reynaldo Hahn with pianist Roger Vignoles. Among Ms. Graham's honors are Musical America's Vocalist of the Year and an Opera News Award.

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PURCELL Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas
Susan Graham, Mezzo-Soprano | Le Concert D'Astrée
EMI Classics

At a Glance

This program includes a pair of paired works and a pair of paired composers. The paired works are symphonies by Joseph Haydn, regularly proclaimed the “father of the symphony.” There were symphonies before Haydn started composing them and there were many written by composers all over Europe during his career, but no one wrote so many of such rich variety and imagination.

The Symphony No. 75, which opens the concert, is a late–middle-period symphony written for Haydn’s prince at Eszterháza. Composing deep in the rural countryside, his music only rarely made its way into the wider world—but that was on the verge of changing. In the 1780s, he accepted a commission to write six symphonies for Paris, and in the 1790s, a dozen for London. These, and a few others, remain the capstone of his symphonic output. The Symphony No. 75 is already very close to Haydn’s last period, particularly in his way of creating large symphonic architecture with only a handful of ideas.

The Symphony No. 98, which ends the program, is one of the glorious dozen “London” symphonies with which Haydn capped his career. He was in his early 60s—a ripe old age for the time—and reviewers were constantly astonished at all the ways he found to make each symphony seem entirely new, even if the basic pattern of four movements had been pretty well set.

The two paired composers are Englishmen who lived nearly three centuries apart, both of whom wrote a vast quantity of vocal music—songs, choral works, operas, and more. Henry Purcell, living in the 17th century, was a universal genius in that he could compose for every vocal and instrumental genre of his day at the highest level of ability. He was especially gifted in setting the English language to music, capturing its flow, internal syncopations, and sprung rhythms. Every composer who has studied Purcell’s vocal work has benefited greatly from it—none more so than Benjamin Britten, whose songs, operas, and other works seem often like a 20th-century reincarnation of his forebear.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Orchestra of St Luke's.