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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
  • ZH Zankel Hall
  • SA/PS Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • REW Resnick Education Wing
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Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Beethoven’s “Emperor” with Denk
Thursday, February 15, 2018 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
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Robert Spano by Angela Morris, Kelley O'Connor by Kristina Choe Jacinth, Jeremy Denk by Michael Wilson
Mozart’s final symphonies are pinnacles of Classicism that boldly point to the Romantics. His Symphony No. 40 opens in a state of nervous agitation and culminates in an edge-of-your-seat finale that Wagner called “exuberant with rapture and audacity.” The “Emperor” Piano Concerto is grandly virtuosic and heroic in spirit—a towering landmark where Beethoven the master pianist and symphonist are brilliantly fused. There’s also new songs from Bryce Dessner, co-commisioned by Carnegie Hall, setting the deeply moving poetry of Argentinian writer Alfonsina Storni.


Orchestra of St. Luke's
Robert Spano, Conductor
Kelley O'Connor, Mezzo-Soprano
Jeremy Denk, Piano


MOZART Symphony No. 40
BRYCE DESSNER Voy a dormir (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
Carnegie Hall's 125 Commissions Project

Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.

At a Glance

Tonight’s program is a blend of old and new, offering two iconic orchestral works from the classical canon and a world premiere. Despite their superficial differences, all three pieces share several key qualities, including the use of the orchestra to create novel sonic effects and the breaking and bending of convention.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 are each regarded as masterpieces, in part owing to the ways in which they work within the conventions upon which they rely. Each takes listeners on a fascinating musical journey, in which the use of contrasts and sudden juxtapositions leads to moments of surprising drama and discovery, even if there is no explicit story or narrative aside from the music itself.

Bryce Dessner’s world premiere, Voy a dormir, draws on not just musical conventions for its structure, but the poetry of Argentine writer and intellectual Alfonsina Storni. The diverse orchestral effects of its four movements bring new life to these texts, including the final poem, which was written by Storni shortly before her tragic death. 


Robert Spano

Conductor, pianist, composer, and teacher Robert Spano is known worldwide for the intensity of his artistry and distinctive communicative abilities, creating a sense of inclusion and warmth among musicians and audiences that is unique among American orchestras. Beginning his 17th season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), this highly imaginative conductor is an approachable artist with the innate ability to share his enthusiasm for music with an entire community and concert hall. A fervent mentor to rising artists, he is responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous celebrated composers, conductors, and performers and enjoys collaborations with composers and musicians of all ages, backgrounds, and ability. As music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students and rising artists.

The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Mr. Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah music festivals. Guest engagements have included performances with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; the San Francisco, Kansas City, Oregon, and Utah symphonies; the Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota orchestras; and the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras. Internationally, Mr. Spano has led the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, Orquestra Sinfônica de Estado São Paulo, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan. His opera performances include Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as well as the 2005 and 2009 Seattle Opera productions of Wagner’s Ring cycle. Mr. Spano also holds a conductor residency with the Colburn School Orchestra in Los Angeles. Season highlights for 2017–2018 include guest engagements with the Baltimore, New World, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras; the Spanish premiere of Jennifer Hidgon’s Concerto for Orchestra with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia; and nine performances of Bernstein’s Candide with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

With a discography of critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon, and ASO Media recorded over nine years, Mr. Spano has won six Grammy Awards with the ASO. He is on the faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin. Mr. Spano is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and makes his home in Atlanta.

Kelley O'Connor

Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, Grammy Award–winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation.

During the 2017–2018 season, an impressive symphonic calendar includes Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1, “Jeremiah,” with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic; Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Andrés Orozco-Estrada leading the Tonkünstler Orchestra; and Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Krzysztof UrbaƄski and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Ms. O’Connor returns to the Kennedy Center for John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary, marking her first collaboration with Gianandrea Noseda, and sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Jun Märkl on the podium of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Later in the season, she joins Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of a new work written for her by Michael Kurth. In addition, she brings Carmen into her repertoire with presentations by Opera Buffs and LA Opera under the baton of James Conlon.

John Adams wrote The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Ms. O’Connor, and she has performed the work, both in concert and in the Peter Sellars production, under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, Sir Simon Rattle, and David Robertson. She has sung the composer’s El Niño with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and continues to be the eminent living interpreter of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs.

Jeremy Denk

Jeremy Denk is one of America’s foremost pianists. Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and the Avery Fisher Prize, Mr. Denk was also recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Denk regularly appears at Carnegie Hall and has recently performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, and The Cleveland Orchestra, as well as on tour with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Last season, he undertook a recital tour of the UK, including a return to Wigmore Hall. He also returned to the BBC Proms, playing Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

This season, Mr. Denk returns to the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, embarks on a tour with the Seattle Symphony performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, continues as artistic partner of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra with multiple performances throughout the season, and performs a new piano concerto written for him by Hannah Lash. He also appears in recital throughout the US, including in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Abroad, Mr. Denk is presented by the Barbican in multiple performances as artist-in-residence at Milton Hall. He also returns to play-conduct the Britten Sinfonia in London and on tour in the UK. In Asia, Mr. Denk makes his debut in recital, including in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Seoul. Future projects include reuniting with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and a US tour with his longtime musical partners Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis.

Mr. Denk is known for his original and insightful writing on music, which Alex Ross praises for its “arresting sensitivity and wit.” His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New Republic, The Guardian, and on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. He is the composer of an opera presented by Carnegie Hall, and is working on a book to be published by Random House. Mr. Denk’s debut recording for Nonesuch Records paired Beethoven’s Sonata in C Minor, Op. 111, with Ligeti’s Études; his account of the Beethoven sonata was selected by BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library as the best available version recorded on a modern piano. His latest recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations reached No. 1 on Billboard’s classical chart.

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) began in 1974 as a group of virtuoso musicians performing chamber music concerts at Greenwich Village’s Church of St. Luke in the Fields. Now in its 43rd season, the orchestra performs at New York’s major concert venues across diverse musical styles and genres, and has collaborated with artists who range from Renée Fleming and Joshua Bell to Bono and Metallica. The orchestra has participated in 118 recordings, four of which have won Grammy Awards; has commissioned more than 50 new works; and has given more than 175 world, US, and New York City premieres. In the fall of 2018, internationally celebrated 18th-century music expert Bernard Labadie joins the orchestra as principal conductor, continuing the orchestra’s long tradition of working with proponents of historical performance practice.

During the 2017–2018 season, OSL performs and presents more than 80 concerts at 19 different venues throughout all five boroughs of New York City. Its signature programming includes a subscription series presented by Carnegie Hall, now in its 31st season; an annual multi-week collaboration with Paul Taylor American Modern Dance at Lincoln Center; an annual summer residency at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts; and a chamber music festival that features appearances at The Morgan Library & Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Music Center.

Nearly half of OSL’s performances each year are presented free of charge through its education and community programs. These include the five-borough Music in Color concert tour, which champions composers of color; the Free School Concert series of orchestral and cross-genre programs, reaching 10,000 New York City public school students; and a range of creative family programs and concerts. Additionally, OSL provides free instrumental coaching and presents student performances through its Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s and its mentorship program for pre-professional musicians.

OSL built and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City’s only rehearsal, recording, education, and performance space expressly dedicated to classical music. The center serves more than 500 ensembles and 30,000 musicians each year, and is an indispensable resource for classical music performance and production in the city. More than 170 studio recordings have been produced at The DiMenna Center since it opened in 2011.

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