Performance Thursday, December 15, 2011 | 8 PM

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Messiaen combined crystalline textures with Catholic mysticism to create beautiful sacred music; you could say he was the 20th century’s Bach. Robert Spano and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s perform choral works by each composer in a concert that features a host of astounding soloists and the excellent Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus.


  • Orchestra of St. Luke's
    Robert Spano, Conductor
  • Susanna Phillips, Soprano
  • Sasha Cooke, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Nicholas Phan, Tenor
  • Joshua Hopkins, Baritone
  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus
    Norman Mackenzie, Director


  • BACH "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 3
  • MESSIAEN Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine
  • BACH Magnificat, BWV 243


  • Orchestra of St. Luke’s

    Now in its 37th year, Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) is one of America’s foremost and most versatile ensembles. Dedicated to engaging audiences throughout New York City and beyond, OSL performs approximately 70 orchestral, chamber, and educational concerts each year—including an annual orchestra series at Carnegie Hall, an annual chamber music series at The Morgan Library &Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and summer concerts as orchestra-in-residence at the Caramoor International Music Festival.

    OSL collaborates regularly with the world’s great artists, such as Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Anna Netrebko, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Mark Morris Dance Group, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Elton John, and many more. Committed to community building, OSL produces free concerts in each of the five boroughs through its annual Subway Series, and has engaged more than one million children in its arts education programs. OSL’s stellar discography of more than 70 recordings includes four acclaimed releases on its own label, St. Luke’s Collection, and four Grammy Award–winning recordings.

    In March 2011, OSL opened The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, its first permanent home, and New York City’s first rehearsal and recording facility dedicated to classical music. Located at 450 West 37th Street, The DiMenna Center’s building is also home to Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC). The Center has already hosted thousands of musicians from a wide range of ensembles and serves as the venue for OSL’s new free concert series OSL@DMC, which connects the public to the artistic process of composers and musicians.

    Robert Spano

    Robert Spano is one of the brightest and most imaginative conductors of his generation. As music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he has enriched and expanded its repertoire and elevated the ensemble to new levels of international prominence. In 2012, Mr. Spano also becomes music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School. Mr. Spano’s 2011–2012 engagements include appearances with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and Sydney Symphony. Respected as a collaborative pianist and composer, Mr. Spano joins bass-baritone Eric Owens for three recitals in Denver; Davis, California; and at Zankel Hall, and completes a three-year residency at Emory University.

    Mr. Spano also oversees Theater of a Concert performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and John Adams’s A Flowering Tree. With a discography of 16 critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc and Deutsche Grammophon, Mr. Spano has garnered six Grammy Awards. In February 2011, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Naxos created ASO Media, and the label’s first recording was released in April 2011. Musical America’s 2008 Conductor of the Year, Mr. Spano is on the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

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  • Susanna Phillips

    A native of Alabama and winner of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, Susanna Phillips returns to the Met in the 2011–2012 season to reprise Musetta in La bohème. Other 2011–2012 highlights include the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Minnesota Opera, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro at the Grand Théatre de Bordeaux. Engagements in recent seasons include Pamina in Julie Taymor’s production of Die Zauberflöte at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as Musetta in La bohème—the role with which Ms. Phillips made her company debut in 2008—in New York and Japan.

    In recital, Ms. Phillips has appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and at Carnegie Hall. Concert performances include Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major and Choral Fantasy at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. In 2005, Ms. Phillips won four of the world’s leading vocal competitions: Operalia (both First Place and the Audience Prize), the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the MacAllister Awards, and the George London Foundation. She holds first prizes from the American Opera Society Competition and the Musicians Club of Women in Chicago. As an alumna of The Juilliard School, she won the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital. Ms. Phillips is also a graduate of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

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  • Sasha Cooke

    n the 2011–2012 season, American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke sings Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and makes her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in John Harbison’s Fifth Symphony. She also debuts with Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre national de Lyon in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”; appears in recital in Zankel Hall as part of The Song Continues …, and joins Musica Sacra for holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall.

    Ms. Cooke has sung with leading conductors and orchestras that include Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony, Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Edo de Waart with both the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. A former member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Ms. Cooke was acclaimed for her portrayal of Kitty Oppenheimer in the Met’s premiere of Doctor Atomic. Ms. Cooke is a graduate of Rice University and The Juilliard School.

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  • Nicholas Phan

    This season, American tenor Nicholas Phan sings Luricano in Ariodante on tour with Alan Curtis and his acclaimed orchestra, Il Complesso Barocco. He also appears with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic (Hollywood Bowl), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony, in addition to both Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Les Violons du Roy at Carnegie Hall and in recital in the prestigious Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series. He recently toured with Il Complesso Barocco and made debuts at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Festival de Saint-Denis, and the English Chamber Orchestra.

    Mr. Phan has appeared with leading orchestras in the US, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Music of the Baroque. He has also appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in various concerts at the Edinburgh, Ravinia, Rheingau, Bard, and Marlboro music festivals. One of the rising young stars of the opera world, Mr. Phan recently made debuts at the Glyndebourne Opera and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, and has also appeared with the New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Portland Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Opéra de Lille, and Oper Frankfurt. A graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and the University of Michigan, Mr. Phan’s first solo album, Winter Words: Songs by Britten, was released in fall 2011 by AVIE.

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  • Joshua Hopkins

    Winner of the 2006 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and the Verbier Festival Academy’s 2008 Prix d’Honneur, Joshua Hopkins’s engagements in 2011–2012 include Handel’s Rinaldo with the touring company of the Glyndebourne Opera, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with Houston Grand Opera, and Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Vancouver Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He also sings Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the New York Philharmonic. Highlights of recent seasons include appearances with Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. Concert engagements have included performances with The Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Les Violons du Roy, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

    Mr. Hopkins has given solo recitals at Carnegie Hall and in Toronto. In conjunction with the Aldeburgh Connection, Mr. Hopkins gave the world premiere of Michael Tilson Thomas’s Rilke Songs at Zankel Hall, and joined Barbara Bonney for songs by three generations of Mozarts with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He also has collaborated with pianist Richard Goode. Mr. Hopkins records exclusively for ATMA Classique; his first recital disc, featuring songs of Barber, Bowles, Glick, and Vaughan Williams, was released in 2010.

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  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus

    Acclaimed for the beauty, precision, and expressive qualities of its singing, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus has been an important part of the ASO’s programming since its founding by the late Robert Shaw. The Chamber Chorus, formed in 1967, is composed of between 40 and 60 volunteers selected by audition from the ranks of the ASO Chorus, who meet for extra rehearsals and perform with the ASO each season. The Chamber Chorus performs music of the Baroque and Classical eras, as well as works by modern masters. Highlights of the ASO Chamber Chorus’s history include a residency with the ASO and Robert Spano for California’s Ojai Festival, participation with the ASO in recordings of masterworks, and, in 2005, an a cappella recording that features Vaughan Williams’s Mass under Norman Mackenzie. Carnegie Hall appearances include performances of Bach’s B-Minor Mass and St. Matthew and St. John passions, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Stravinsky’s Nightingale, and the Mozart/Levin Requiem.

    As director of choruses for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 2000, Norman Mackenzie has helped carry forward the creative vision of legendary founding conductor Robert Shaw to a new generation of music lovers. His abilities as musical collaborator, conductor, and concert organist have brought him international recognition. During his ASO tenure, the choruses have made numerous tours and garnered several Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance. In 2009, Mr. Mackenzie led the ASO Chorus for critically acclaimed performances of Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem in Germany with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Donald Runnicles. At the ASO, he prepares the choruses for all concerts and recordings, works closely with Robert Spano, and conducts annual holiday concerts. In February 2011, he partnered with Robert Spano and Orchestra of St. Luke’s for Carnegie Hall’s 20th anniversary choral workshop, which featured Berlioz’s Requiem.

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Bach Magnificat in D Major (Magnificat)
Stuttgart Bach Collegium; Helmuth Rilling, Conductor
Hanssler Classics

At a Glance

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH  “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048

The Margrave of Brandenburg—to whom Bach sent a beautiful presentation manuscript containing six diverse, buoyant concertos—never knew what he missed. Like most aristocrats, he often received works of art designed to elicit a valuable gift or even a job offer. But, as far as we know, the Margrave never heard any of the pieces that made his name famous, and they remained lost to the world until the 19th-century rediscovery of Bach. Since then, they have become among the most frequently performed Baroque concertos.

OLIVIER MESSIAEN  Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine

The Three Little Liturgies of the Divine Presence, Messiaen’s first orchestral work aimed at a large concert audience since the early 1930s, revealed his special sense of orchestral color. Featuring solo piano, ondes martenot, and a colorful percussion section inspired by the sounds of the Balinese gamelan, Messiaen created shimmering sonorities in a work shaped by his musical ear and deep religious conviction.

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH  Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243

Among the most popular Roman Catholic liturgical texts retained by Martin Luther after the Reformation was the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise in response to news of the Immaculate Conception (Luke I:46–55). Bach’s setting of the text offers a veritable catalogue of Baroque musical forms in a dozen compact movements—suggesting the range of his art and his imaginative approach to theological imagery.

Program Notes