The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director and Conductor
Joyce DiDonato, Mezzo-Soprano
WAGNER Prelude to Lohengrin
MASON BATES Anthology of Fantastic Zoology (NY Premiere)
CHAUSSON Poème de l'amour et de la mer
RESPIGHI Fountains of Rome
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
At a Glance
A medieval German legend, the magical realism of Jorge Luis Borges, French poetry, and the sights of Rome inspired the four works on this evening’s program.
Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin concerns the mysterious knight of the Holy Grail, the son of Parsifal, who attempts to keep his identity a secret. The ethereal Prelude begins with shimmering strings playing in the highest register to evoke the sacred vessel.
American composer Mason Bates’s Anthology of Fantastic Zoology is based on Borges’s book of the same name. The 11 continuously performed movements of varying lengths evoke both mythological and newly imagined creatures in what Bates calls a “psychedelic bestiary.” This is a Carnival of the Animals for the 21st century.
French composer Ernest Chausson set poetry by his friend Maurice Bouchor, resulting in his Poème de l’amour et de la mer (Poem of Love and the Sea) for voice and orchestra. The piece, which owes a considerable debt to Wagner’s music, includes an orchestral interlude between the two vocal sections, “Water Flower” and “The Death of Love.”
The concert concludes with Ottorino Respighi’s colorful Fountains of Rome, the first of a trilogy of works he composed honoring the Eternal City and the piece that won him international fame. It unfolds in four movements that depict celebrated Roman fountains at different times during the course of the day.
The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of imagination and innovation on and off the concert stage. The orchestra is inspiring the future and transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging—and exceeding—that level, by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.
Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s connection to the orchestra’s musicians has been praised by both concertgoers and critics since his inaugural season in 2012. Under his leadership, the orchestra returned to recording, with four celebrated albums on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label, continuing its history of recording success. The orchestra also reaches thousands of listeners on the radio with weekly broadcasts on WRTI-FM and SiriusXM.
The Philadelphia Orchestra continues to discover new and inventive ways to nurture its relationship with its loyal patrons at its home in the Kimmel Center, and also with those who enjoy the orchestra’s area performances at the Mann Center, Penn’s Landing, and other cultural, civic, and learning venues. The orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level, all of which create greater access and engagement with classical music as an art form.
The Philadelphia Orchestra serves as a catalyst for cultural activity across Philadelphia’s many communities, building an offstage presence as strong as its presence onstage. With Yannick, a dedicated body of musicians, and one of the nation’s richest arts ecosystems, the orchestra has launched its HEAR initiative, a portfolio of integrated initiatives that promotes Health, champions music Education, eliminates barriers to Accessing the orchestra, and maximizes impact through Research. The orchestra’s award-winning Collaborative Learning programs engage more than 50,000 students, families, and community members through programs such as PlayINs, side-by-sides, PopUP concerts, free Neighborhood Concerts, School Concerts, and residency work in Philadelphia and abroad.
Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the orchestra is a global cultural ambassador for Philadelphia and the US. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in the People’s Republic of China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, the ensemble today boasts five-year partnerships with Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Shanghai Media Group. In 2018, the orchestra traveled to Europe and Israel. The orchestra annually performs at Carnegie Hall, while also enjoying summer residencies in Saratoga Springs and Vail. For more information, please visit philorch.org.
Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead The Philadelphia Orchestra through at least the 2025–2026 season, an extraordinary and significant long-term commitment. Additionally, he became music director of the Metropolitan Opera this season. Yannick, who holds the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Chair, is an inspired leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra. The New York Times has called him “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble, famous for its glowing strings and homogenous richness, has never sounded better.” Highlights of his seventh season include a production of Candide, the culmination of the orchestra’s Bernstein centenary celebration; Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, featuring the athletic and inventive choreography of Philadelphia-based Brian Sanders; and the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe’s community commission Healing Tones.
Yannick has established himself as a musical leader of the highest caliber and one of the most thrilling talents of his generation. He has been artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain since 2000; in the summer of 2017, he became an honorary member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He was also music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (he is now honorary conductor). He has made wildly successful appearances with the world’s most revered ensembles and has conducted critically acclaimed performances at many of the leading opera houses.
Yannick signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon in May 2018. Under his leadership, The Philadelphia Orchestra returned to recording with four albums on that label. In Yannick’s inaugural season, The Philadelphia Orchestra returned to the radio airwaves, with weekly broadcasts on WRTI-FM and SiriusXM.
A native of Montreal, Yannick studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec and continued his studies with renowned conductor Carlo Maria Giulini; he also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College. Among Yannick’s honors are an appointment as Companion of the Order of Canada; Musical America’s 2016 Artist of the Year; and honorary doctorates from the Université du Québec, Curtis Institute of Music, Westminster Choir College, McGill University, and University of Pennsylvania. To read Yannick’s full bio, please visit philorch.org/conductor.
A multiple–Grammy Award winner and recipient of the 2018 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Kansas-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato entrances audiences across the globe. She has soared to the top of the industry both as a performer and a fierce arts advocate, gaining international prominence in operas by Handel and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging discography. She is also widely acclaimed for the bel canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti.
Much in demand on the concert and recital circuit, Ms. DiDonato has recently held residencies at Carnegie Hall and the Barbican Centre in London; toured extensively in the US, South America, Europe, and Asia; and appeared as guest soloist at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms at Royal Albert Hall. Other recent highlights include performances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti; extensive touring with Il Pomo d’Oro and Maxim Emelyanychev; and recitals with the Brentano String Quartet at Wigmore Hall and with Sir Antonio Pappano at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Ms. DiDonato’s recent operatic roles include Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking at Madrid’s Teatro Real and London’s Barbican Centre; her first Dido in Berlioz’s Les Troyens under John Nelson in Strasbourg; and the title role in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera, and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Ms. DiDonato is an exclusive recording artist with the Erato / Warner Classics label. Her most recent release, Les Troyens, won an International Opera Award, a BBC Music Magazine Award, and two Gramophone Awards, including Recording of the Year. Other recent recordings include In War & Peace, which won a Gramophone Award in 2017; Stella di Napoli; her Grammy Award–winning Diva, Divo; and Drama Queens. Other honors include the Gramophone Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards, and an induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.