New World Symphony
New World Symphony is also performing 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)
At a Glance
Since studying composition with Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, Michael Tilson Thomas has made space in his conducting career to produce a body of original works, ranging from commemorations of World War II atrocities to 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.”
New World Symphony
The New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy (NWS), prepares graduates of music programs for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. In the 31 years since its co-founding by Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas and Lin and Ted Arison, NWS has helped launch the careers of more than 1,100 alumni worldwide.
A laboratory for the way music is taught, presented, and experienced, the New World Symphony consists of 87 young musicians who are granted fellowships that last up to three years. The fellowship program offers in-depth exposure to traditional and modern repertoire, professional development training, and personalized experiences working with leading guest conductors, soloists, and visiting faculty. Relationships with these artists are extended through NWS’s extensive distance learning via the internet.
NWS Fellows take advantage of the innovative performance facilities and state-of-the art practice and ensemble rooms of the Frank Gehry–designed New World Center, the campus of the New World Symphony and home of the Knight New Media Center. In the hopes of joining NWS, more than 1,500 recent music school and conservatory graduates compete for about 35 available fellowships each year. The Fellows are selected for this highly competitive, prestigious opportunity based on their musical achievement and promise, as well as their passion for the future of classical music. Visit nws.edu for more information.
Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas is co-founder and artistic director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; music director of the San Francisco Symphony; and conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to these posts, he maintains an active presence guest conducting with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California, where he studied piano with John Crown, and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At age 19, he was named music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’s Monday Evening Concerts. During this same period, he was a pianist and conductor for Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). He went on to become the BSO’s associate conductor, then principal guest conductor, which he remained until 1974.
Mr. Tilson Thomas’s extensive television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for BBC Television, the television broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977, and numerous productions on PBS’s Great Performances. In 2004, Mr. Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony embarked on a multi-tiered media project titled Keeping Score, which includes television, websites, radio programs, and programs in the schools, all designed to make classical music more accessible to a new audience.
Among his many honors and awards, Mr. Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France; was Musical America’s Musician of the Year and Conductor of the Year, and Gramophone’s Artist of the Year; and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has won 11 Grammy Awards for his recordings. In 2008, he received the Peabody Award for his radio series for SFS Media, The MTT Files. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the US government.
Motivated and hungry for new experiences, Measha Brueggergosman effortlessly embraces the broadest array of performance platforms and musical styles. She began her career predominantly committed to the art of the song recital and has presented innovative programs at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, and Madrid’s Teatro Real, as well as at the Schwarzenberg, Edinburgh, Verbier, and Bergen festivals with pianists who have included Justus Zeyen, Roger Vignoles, Julius Drake, and Simon Lepper.
On the concert platform, Ms. Brueggergosman has worked with the San Francisco and New World symphonies, collaborating with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, and Daniel Harding, among others.
In the 2018–2019 season, Ms. Brueggergosman’s engagements include her operatic debut at the Finnish National Opera as Giulietta in Les contes d’Hoffmann, a return to London’s Barbican Centre in recital, performances as Elettra in Idomeneo at Opera Atelier, and concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas) and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Vladimir Jurowski).
Ms. Brueggergosman’s first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, Surprise, includes works by Schoenberg, Satie, and Bolcom, and is one of the most highly regarded debut albums of recent years. Her subsequent disc, Night and Dreams—which features songs by Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, Schubert, Debussy, Duparc, and Fauré—won several awards, and her recording of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra earned her a Grammy nomination.
Off the stage, Ms. Brueggergosman is just as active: Her memoir, Something Is Always on Fire, was published by Harper Collins, and she appears regularly on primetime television (most recently advocating on behalf of contemporary Canadian literature). She also leads Canadian children across the country in song in celebration of a nationwide campaign for music education. Ms. Brueggergosman champions the education and involvement of new audiences, and holds several honorary doctorates and ambassadorial titles with international charities.
Critical superlatives and audience ovations have continuously followed Yuja Wang’s dazzling career. Celebrated for her charismatic artistry and captivating stage presence, she has achieved new heights during the 2018–2019 season, which features recitals, concert series, season residencies, and extensive tours with some of the world’s most venerated ensembles and conductors.
Ms. Wang began the current season with a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto at the Tanglewood Music Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andris Nelsons, followed by a tour with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Kirill Petrenko that featured Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. In the spring of 2019, Ms. Wang embarks on a tour to Los Angeles, Seoul, and Tokyo with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to give the first-ever performances of John Adams’s newest piano concerto. She also reunites with cellist and frequent collaborator Gautier Capuçon for a vast US chamber tour.
Additional engagements this season include an extensive recital tour to South America, several concerts with the Munich Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev throughout Asia, concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Versailles, performances at the Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn with Gustavo Dudamel, tours with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and concerts in Istanbul, Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Kotor. In addition to this evening’s concert, Ms. Wang’s Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall has included performances with Martin Grubinger, Leonidas Kavakos, Gautier Capuçon, and Igudesman & Joo. This season, Ms. Wang is also an artist in residence at Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Luxembourg’s Philharmonie.
Ms. Wang was born into a musical family in Beijing, China. After childhood piano studies, she received advanced training in Canada and at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music under Gary Graffman. Her international breakthrough came in 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon two years later, and has since established her place among the world’s leading artists with a succession of critically acclaimed performances and recordings. Ms. Wang was named Musical America’s 2017 Artist of the Year.
Mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan has been praised by The New York Times for her “vocal warmth and rich character.” Her 2018–2019 season included her Los Angeles Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall debuts with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Ms. Dugan also sang the role of Mrs. Van Buren in a workshop performance of Intimate Apparel, a new opera by composer Ricky Ian Gordon with a libretto by Lynn Nottage. The piece was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater’s New Works Program. Additional highlights include performances with the ensemble Mistral singing Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and with the New Amsterdam Singers as the alto soloist in Martín Palmeri’s Misa a Buenos Aires.
Ms. Dugan also enjoys recital work with her husband, pianist Peter Dugan. Last season, they premiered their program Art Song in America, presented by the Charles Ives Concert Series in Danbury, Connecticut. The duo recently made a guest appearance with crossover group Time for Three at Joe’s Pub in New York City. Ms. Dugan has spent summers with the Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Boston Early Music Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, and Aspen Music Festival and School. She has recently sung with the San Francisco Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and New World Symphony. Visit KaraDugan.com for more information.
Kristen Toedtman exudes warmth and excellence on stage, whether in front of an orchestra or behind her guitar. Known for her collaborative spirit and prowess with tight harmonies, she has shared the stage as soloist or in small ensemble with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philip Glass Ensemble, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Britt Festival Orchestra, Corona del Mar Festival Orchestra, and Concert Artists of Baltimore. She is a longtime singer with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, a founding member of the Baltimore Afrobeat Society, and a frequent collaborator with singer-songwriters Moira Smiley, Brendan Hines, and David Poe.
As a bandleader and songwriter, Ms. Toedtman has played the Bootleg Theater and Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, Rockwood Music Hall in New York City, and a variety of outdoor festivals. She has two self-released records of original material, available on all online platforms as well as on her website. She has recorded on the Harmonia Mundi and Decca labels, and sung on the soundtracks of Frozen, Minions, Despicable Me 3, and Godzilla, among other films.
In addition to her own singing, Ms. Toedtman is passionate about inspiring others to sing. She directs the Community Chorus of Peabody in Baltimore, has worked with Street Symphony and Urban Voices Project (singers who live and work on Skid Row in Los Angeles), and, most recently, led singers at a health clinic in the Dominican Republic.