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Carnegie Hall Presents

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Yannick Nézet-Séguin by Todd Rosenberg, Angel Blue by Sonya Garza
Hear powerful works by four unique American composers. Metropolitan Opera star Angel Blue’s lush voice is ideally suited to the richly melodic vocal line of Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a gorgeous setting of novelist James Agee’s childhood memories of a summer evening in the American South. Blue also joins the orchestra for the New York premiere of a new work by Valerie Coleman, as well as a suite from Matthew Aucoin's latest opera, which was premiered this season. Arkansas-born Price’s vibrant symphony recalls her African heritage, weaving in spirituals, hymns, and West African dance.

Performers

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director and Conductor
Angel Blue, Soprano

Program

MATTHEW AUCOIN Suite from Eurydice (NY Premiere)

VALERIE COLEMAN This Is Not a Small Voice (NY Premiere)

BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915

PRICE Symphony No. 1

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Listen to Selected Works

ICBC

This performance is proudly supported by ICBC U.S. Region.

At a Glance

At age 31, the American composer Matthew Aucoin is one of the youngest composers ever to have an opera presented by the Metropolitan Opera. His Eurydice, a co-commission with Los Angeles Opera, was broadcast internationally late last year, and on this concert we hear the New York premiere of an orchestral suite he has crafted from it. Sarah Ruhl’s libretto tells the mythic tale of Orpheus from the standpoint of his beloved Eurydice, who is usually relegated to an ancillary role to the lyre-strumming hero.

Philadelphia claims Samuel Barber as one of its own. Born in the suburbs and trained at the Curtis Institute of Music, he went on to become one of the great composers of the 20th century, an imaginative traditionalist who kept elements of musical Romanticism alive. His one-movement work for soprano and orchestra, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, is based on an evocative prose poem by James Agee about a boy growing up in the south.

The concert continues with another Philadelphia Orchestra commission and New York premiere with Valerie Coleman’s inspiring work that sets words by contemporary Philadelphia poet Sonia Sanchez. “This Is Not a Small Voice” celebrates the strength of Black individuals and communities, whose collective “voice” sweeps like a “river,” spreading love, healing, and creative “Genius” through every corner of our cities.

Florence Price’s magnificent Symphony No. 1 was the first such work written by a Black woman to be performed by a leading American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered it in 1933. Price, who had trained at the New England Conservatory of Music, wrote three more symphonies (one seems to be lost) and hundreds of other pieces. Her works were largely forgotten after her death in 1953 until the discovery in 2009 of a rich trove of unpublished compositions led to an enthusiastic embrace of her music. The Philadelphians have been at the forefront of performing her symphonies, which they recently recorded.

Bios

The Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the world’s preeminent orchestras. It strives to share the transformative power of music with the widest possible audience, and to create joy, ...

The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the world’s preeminent orchestras. It strives to share the transformative power of music with the widest possible audience, and to create joy, connection, and excitement through music in the Philadelphia region, across the country, and around the world. Through innovative programming, robust educational initiatives, and an ongoing commitment to the communities that it serves, the ensemble is on a path to create an expansive future for classical music, and to further the place of the arts in an open and democratic society.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is now in his 10th season as the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra. His connection to the ensemble’s musicians has been praised by both concertgoers and critics, and he is embraced by the musicians of the orchestra, audiences, and the community.

The Philadelphia Orchestra takes great pride in its hometown, performing for the people of Philadelphia year-round, from Verizon Hall to community centers, The Mann Center to Penn’s Landing, classrooms to hospitals, and over the airwaves and online.

In March 2020, in response to the cancellation of concerts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the orchestra launched the Virtual Philadelphia Orchestra, a portal that hosted video and audio of performances for free on its website and social media platforms. In September 2020, the orchestra announced Our World NOW, its reimagined season of concerts filmed without audiences and presented on its Digital Stage. The orchestra also inaugurated free offerings: HearTOGETHER, a series on racial and social justice; educational activities; and Our City, Your Orchestra, a series of small ensemble performances from locations throughout the Philadelphia region.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s award-winning education and community initiatives engage more than 50,000 students, families, and community members of all ages through programs such as PlayINs, side-by-sides, PopUP concerts, Free Neighborhood Concerts, School Concerts, the School Partnership Program and School Ensemble Program, and All City Orchestra Fellowships.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, and recordings, the orchestra is a global ambassador. It performs annually at Carnegie Hall, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Bravo! Vail Music Festival. The orchestra also has a rich touring history, having first performed outside Philadelphia in its earliest days. In 1973, it became the first American orchestra to perform in the People’s Republic of China, launching a five-decade commitment of people-to-people exchange.

The orchestra also makes live recordings available on popular digital music services and as part of the Listen On Demand section of its website. Under Yannick’s leadership, the orchestra returned to recording, with 10 celebrated releases on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label. The orchestra also reaches thousands of radio listeners with weekly broadcasts on WRTI-FM and SiriusXM. For more information, please visit philorch.org.

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is currently in his 10th season as music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Additionally, he became the third music director of the Metropolitan ...

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is currently in his 10th season as music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Additionally, he became the third music director of the Metropolitan Opera in 2018. Yannick, who holds the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Chair, is an inspired leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra. His intensely collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times has called him “phenomenal,” adding that “the ensemble, famous for its glowing strings and homogenous richness, has never sounded better.”

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 the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal since 2000, and in 2017 he became an honorary member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He also served as music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and is now an honorary conductor. He has made wildly successful appearances with the world’s most revered ensembles and at many of the leading opera houses. Yannick signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 2018; under his leadership, The Philadelphia Orchestra returned to recording with 10 releases on that label.

A native of Montreal, Yannick studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at Montreal’s 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; Companion to the Order of Arts and Letters of Quebec; an Officer of the Order of Quebec; an Officer of the Order of Montreal; Musical America’s 2016 Artist of the Year; ECHO Klassik’s 2014 Conductor of the Year; a Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canada’s National Arts Centre Award; the Virginia Parker Prize; the Prix Denise-Pelletier; the Oskar Morawetz Award; and honorary doctorates from the Université du Quebec, Curtis Institute of Music, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, McGill University, Université de Montréal, University of Pennsylvania, and Laval University. To read Yannick’s full bio, please visit philorch.org/conductor.

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Angel Blue

Soprano Angel Blue opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019–2020 season as Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. She reprised the role at the Met in fall 2021, immediately ...

Soprano Angel Blue opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019–2020 season as Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. She reprised the role at the Met in fall 2021, immediately following her role debut as Destiny/Loneliness/Greta in the Met’s historic 2021–2022 season opener of Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, the first production at the Met by a Black composer. Ms. Blue was also the 2020 recipient of the Met’s Beverly Sills Award and the first Black person to receive the honor. She has appeared with nearly every major opera company, including the Teatro alla Scala; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Vienna State Opera; Semperoper Dresden; San Francisco Opera; Seattle Opera; Oper Frankfurt; and San Diego Opera. On the opera stage this season, she sings Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème at the Bavarian State Opera and Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata at Covent Garden and the Arena di Verona. In summer 2022, she sings Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust at Opéra de Paris.

Highlights of Ms. Blue’s recital and concert engagements this season include an appearance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; recitals in Gstaad, at Washington University in St. Louis, and at Cal Performances in Berkeley; and further engagements with The Philadelphia Orchestra in Saratoga Springs, Edinburgh, and Hamburg.

Ms. Blue was born and raised in California and completed her musical studies at UCLA. She was a member of the Young Artists Program at the Los Angeles Opera, after which she moved to Europe to begin her international career. She made her United States operatic debut as Musetta in La bohème at Los Angeles Opera and subsequently debuted at La Scala in the same role. She first sang Mimì at English National Opera in London in 2014 and has since sung the role for her debuts at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in 2015, the Vienna State Opera in 2016, the Met in 2017, and the Canadian Opera Company in 2019. She sang her first Violetta at Seattle Opera in 2017, reprising the role for her debut at the Royal Opera House and her return to La Scala.

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