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New World Symphony

Thursday, May 2, 2019 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
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Michael Tilson Thomas by Spencer Lowell, Measha Brueggergosman by Hiep Vu, Yuja Wang by Kirk Edwards
Perspectives artist Michael Tilson Thomas’s brilliance as conductor and composer are showcased. His Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind takes its text from a Carl Sandburg poem and was composed for soprano Measha Brueggergosman. This unique song cycle—scored for three singers, chamber orchestra, and cabaret band—is a fascinating fusion of art song and bebop. Tilson Thomas’s mastery of Mahler is featured in a performance of the composer’s string orchestra arrangement of Schubert’s powerful string quartet. Fellow Perspectives artist Yuja Wang is also on hand for New York premieres of two works for solo piano by Tilson Thomas.

Part of: Zankel Sampler I, Perspectives: Yuja Wang, and Perspectives: Michael Tilson Thomas

New World Symphony is also performing May 1.

Michael Tilson Thomas is also performing October 3October 4March 5March 6, and May 1.

Yuja Wang is also performing October 26February 6February 11April 10, and May 1.


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

Kara Dugan, Vocals
Kristen Toedtman, Vocals


MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS Sunset Soliloquy for Solo Piano (NY Premiere)

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS You Come Here Often? for Solo Piano (NY Premiere)

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind (NY Premiere)

SCHUBERT String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810, "Death and the Maiden" (arr. for string orchestra by Mahler; edited by Michael Tilson Thomas)

Michael Tilson Thomas: 2018–2019 Perspectives Artist

At a Glance

Since studying composition with Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, Michael Tilson Thomas has made space in his whirlwind conducting career to produce a small but impressive body of original works, ranging from profound commemorations of World War II atrocities to playful send-ups of popular styles, continuing the legacy of his grandparents, the Thomashefskys—the biggest stars of Yiddish musical theater in their day. Tilson Thomas’s Sunset Soliloquy from 2018 resurfaces music that began on his parents’ piano in 1963, trying, he wrote, “as my father and his family before him had always done, to find through improvisation some kind of larger understanding. I was already aware of the many ‘me’s’ whose spirits seemed to inhabit one or another of my hands.” In 2014, Tilson Thomas returned to material drafted for a music theater work in the 1970s to craft a virtuosic showpiece that depicts a chance encounter between ex-lovers in a noisy club, titled after the classic pickup line “You come here often?” Tilson Thomas’s setting of Carl Sandburg’s Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind also gestated over a period of 40 years, finally reaching fruition as a raucous mash-up of bar band, chamber orchestra, and vocals.

Reflecting his despairing mood in early 1824, Franz Schubert incorporated his tragic song “Death and the Maiden” into the wrenching String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810. Gustav Mahler initiated a transcription for string orchestra in 1894, around the same time he was finishing his “Resurrection” Symphony; now Tilson Thomas’s new edition “
completes many of the ideas suggested in Mahler’s arrangement, and introduces many new instrumental ideas relating to the number of people playing, their location, and specific styles of stroke and sound.”

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