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New World Symphony

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
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Michael Tilson Thomas by Spencer Lowell, Yuja Wang by Kirk Edwards
Virtuosity reigns and the stars shine brightly when two Perspectives artists—Michael Tilson Thomas and Yuja Wang—share the stage. Prokofiev strove for simplicity in his final piano concerto, a work he originally named “Music for Piano and Orchestra.” The concerto, however, is anything but facile with its nimble opening movement, quicksilver toccata, and emotionally powerful Larghetto. Emotions certainly are at the fore in Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, a phantasmagoric tale of obsessive passion painted in kaleidoscopic orchestral colors. Julia Wolfe depicts a different picture of youth in her new work, focused on “serious fun” in the spirit of the New World Symphony and its inimitable founder.

Part of: Concertos Plus, Perspectives: Yuja Wang, and Perspectives: Michael Tilson Thomas

New World Symphony is also performing May 2.

Michael Tilson Thomas is also performing October 3, October 4, March 5, March 6, and May 2.

Yuja Wang is also performing October 26, February 6, February 11, April 10, and May 2.


New World Symphony
America’s Orchestral Academy
Michael Tilson Thomas, Artistic Director and Conductor
Yuja Wang, Piano


JULIA WOLFE Fountain of Youth (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 5

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique

Michael Tilson Thomas: 2018–2019 Perspectives Artist

Sponsored by KPMG LLP

The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Alan G. Weiler in support of the 2018-2019 season.

New York State Council on the Arts

Funding for this commission is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by members of Carnegie Hall’s Composer Club.

At a Glance

Julia Wolfe, a co-founder of the indie-classical collective Bang on a Can, has preserved her iconoclastic ethos even as she has reached the highest echelons of musical achievement, including a Pulitzer Prize in 2015 and a MacArthur “Genius Grant." She has become known for serious works on topics like exploitative labor practices, but for this co-commission from the New World Symphony and Carnegie Hall, she and Michael Tilson Thomas decided instead to focus on “serious fun.” In her new work, Fountain of Youth, Wolfe pays tribute to “this incredible orchestra of young people” and Michael Tilson Thomas, “who is forever young,” while also recalling Florida’s legendary wellspring sought by Ponce de León in the 16th century.

Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 5, completed in 1932 and premiered with the Berliner Philharmoniker, speaks to the crossroads that this Russian expatriate faced in Europe, where his self-described “new simplicity” chafed against modernist trends. The unruly concerto in five short movements brought Prokofiev into dialogue with the fashions of that time and place, producing music as incisive as Stravinsky’s and as nonchalant as Ravel’s.

Berlioz was an unlikely musical revolutionary who only began dabbling in composition and teaching himself harmony out of a book at the age of 12. His breakthrough work, completed while he was still a student at the Paris Conservatoire, grew out of his infatuation with an Irish actress he first saw playing Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In his program note for the Symphonie fantastique, as he subtitled it, Berlioz described “a young musician of morbid disposition and powerful imagination” who “poisons himself with opium in an attack of despairing passion.” In the ensuing opium dream, “the beloved herself appears to him as a melody … an obsessive idea that he keeps hearing wherever he goes.”

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