Throughout the month of October, New York City spotlights Louis Andriessen with programming at the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, Juilliard School, and National Sawdust. Programs feature two world premieres and one US premiere, among other specially curated, one-night-only events around the city. At the heart of the diverse offerings is the New York Philharmonic’s "Art of Andriessen" series.
New York City would not have soon forgotten Louis Andriessen after the Park Avenue Armory’s buzzy staging of De Materie in 2016, which notably featured—alongside the brilliant International Contemporary Ensemble—a cast of a 100 sheep.
Andriessen turns 80 years old on June 6, 2019, and venues across New York City have teamed up to jumpstart the celebration next month with multiple premieres and special events that showcase the music, influences, and legacy of the Dutch master. From October 4 through 14, The New York Philharmonic presents "The Art of Andriessen"—a wide-ranging series of orchestral, chamber music, and recital concerts—as a major programming pillar of its concert season. On October 24, pianist Ralph van Raat makes his Carnegie Hall recital debut with the world premiere of a new piano etude by Andriessen that was commissioned by Carnegie Hall.
October 4–6: Jaap van Zweden Conducts World Premiere of Agamemnon
“The Art of Andriessen” launches with the world premiere of Agamemnon, a symphonic poem for orchestra, conducted by Jaap van Zweden (October 4–6). Andriessen was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as the third recipient of its Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music.
The work is based on the character of Agamemnon from The Iliad who sacrificed his daughter to the gods and, upon returning from the Trojan War, was murdered by his unfaithful wife and her lover as revenge for sacrificing their daughter. Andriessen’s piece presents an interplay of different characters from the Greek myth, and explores both good and bad qualities of Agamemnon’s character.
In composing this war-like symphonic poem, Andriessen drew inspiration from Strauss:
I heard Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel again after many years and, though I don’t generally respond to his German musical world, I found his piece very interesting for Agamemnon. It had the sudden film-like cuts from one scene to another and was quick-paced, like a cartoon film, with the characters running around the screen. It also had a naughty, subversive streak and an in-built unreliability of mood which was something I wanted to capture.”
The scoring features some typical Andriessen additions: soprano saxophone, two pianos either side of the conductor, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drum kit. Agamemnon next receives its European premiere in January at the Royal Festival Hall in London, with Marin Alsop leading the London Philharmonic Orchestra, followed shortly by the Dutch premiere at the Concertgebouw, with JoAnn Falletta leading the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra as part the Zaterdag Matinee series.
> READ: “Andriessen Introduces His Orchestral Work Agamemnon”
October 8–9: US Premiere of MUTED for whisperviolin at National Sawdust
Violinist Monica Germino gives the US premiere of MUTED for whisperviolin at National Sawdust, co-presented by the Brooklyn music venue and the New York Philharmonic. The piece is a collective work by four composers—Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe—created for Germino, Andriessen’s wife, following her diagnosis of high sensitivity to sound. Germino performs on her violin as well as a whisperviolin, a lower-decibel violin created for her. She will also sing settings of texts from 20th-century American humorist Don Marquis’s series of free-verse poems Archy and Mehitabel, set on the streets of New York.
October 10–13: David Robertson Conducts TAO with Synergy Vocals and Tomoko Mukaiyama
David Robertson conducts the New York Philharmonic in TAO, Andriessen’s 1996 work for female pianist, women’s voices, and ensemble. The orchestra is joined onstage by members of Synergy Vocals and the Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama, for whom the work was originally written. In this work about mortality, the women’s choir sings texts from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s Tao-teh Ching, and the piano soloist, who also plays a traditional Japanese koto, ends the piece with a declaration of Kotaro Takamura’s poem "Knife Whetter."
> More Information About TAO
October 7 and 13: Curated Chamber Events
Andriessen also features in two new series the New York Philharmonic is introducing this season, hosted by Creative Partner and violist Nadia Sirota: Sound ON at the Appel Room, and the Nightcap at the Stanley Kaplan Penthouse.
Sound ON (Oct 7) highlights the Netherlands new-music scene with music by Andriessen and his former students: Andriessen’s Image de Moreau, Hout, and Symphony for Open Strings, the last conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden; Dutch composer Martijn Padding’s Mordants; and the New York Premiere of The Key to the Fourteenth Vision by Vanessa Lann, an American composer living in the Netherlands.
The Nightcap, which takes place at 10:30 PM after the October 13 performance of TAO, is curated by Andriessen and showcases his diverse musical interests from Ravel to Miles Davis and John Cage.
October 14: Juilliard’s AXIOM Performs De Staat
The Juilliard School’s AXIOM Ensemble joins “The Art of Andriessen” with a free performance of Andriessen’s De Staat, led by Jeffrey Milarsky. De Staat, written for four women’s voices and large ensemble, is the composer’s political essay, which uses texts from Plato’s Republic. The New York Philharmonic gave the New York premiere of the work in 1986 under the baton of Gunther Schuller.
> More Information About De Staat
October 24: Ralph van Raat Premieres New Piano Etude at Carnegie Hall
Closing out the month, Carnegie Hall presents Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat, who marks his debut performance at the venerable New York institution with the world premiere of Searching for Unison by Andriessen. The new piano etude was commissioned by Carnegie Hall, where Andriessen served as the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair during the 2009–2010 season.
> Ralph van Raat Concert Information
Photo: Francesca Patella
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