English National Opera’s racy new production of ‘Die Fledermaus’


Canadian Opera Company’s 2012 production of ‘Die Fledermaus’
Photo credit: Chris Hutcheson

Strauss’ classic comedy operetta Die Fledermaus has been a favourite with audiences since its first production in Vienna on April 5th, 1874.  It’s colourful, frivolous and fun, bubbling over with wonderfully memorable melodies – but it’s probably never been quite so much fun as English National Opera’s new production.  Racy, risqué and sophisticated, this is Fledermaus as you’ve never seen it before!

ENO – with its flair for the unconventional recreation of classic works – presents Christopher Alden’s version of this tale of revenge, seduction and mistaken identity – a production inspired by the elegant black-and-white films of Hollywood director, Ernst Lubitsch.  Co-produced with Canadian Opera Company, this delightfully irreverent presentation premiered in Toronto in 2012 to great acclaim.


‘Die Fledermaus’ is a co-production between ENO and Canadian Opera Company
Photo credit: Chris Hutcheson

Over the past five seasons, Christopher Alden has directed a number of highly successful productions for ENO, including Partenope (winner of the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Production), The Makropulos Case and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (winner of Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask Award for opera and theatre).  Now, 20 years since the last ENO production of Die Fledermaus, Alden brings it back to the Company – but in an Art Deco-inspired interpretation of  the events taking place at Prince Orlofsky’s glitzy high-society party, with its somewhat unusual guest list.  Man-about-town Eisenstein is to be jailed, his wife is being seduced by a previous lover, and his friend Dr Falke has a plan to exact revenge for a past prank.  No wonder everybody wants to be there – who could resist!

The principal role of Gabriel von Eisenstein is taken by Tom Randle, whose history with ENO goes back 27 years when he debuted as Tamino in Nicholas Hytner’s production of The Magic Flute.  A more recent appearance for the Company was the Captain in Carrie Cracknell’s production of Wozzeck – described by The Arts Desk as a “scarily committed and full-on performance”.

Celebrated American mezzo soprano, Jennifer Holloway, makes her debut with ENO as Prince Orlofsky.  She recently appeared as a “bewitching” Dorabella (according to Opera News) in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte at the New National Theatre in Tokyo.


Ambur Braid as Adele in Canadian Opera Company’s production
Photo credit: Chris Hutcheson

Well known for nurturing talent which is both British and British-trained, the Company has cast ENO Harewood Artists Julia Sporsén and Rhian Lois in the roles of Rosalinde and Adele respectively.  Soprano Sporsén has most recently appeared with ENO as Livia in Detlev Glanert’s Caligula and in the title role of Martinů’s Julietta.  Rhian Lois played Papagena in the last revival of Hytner’s The Magic Flute in 2012, Frasquita in Calixto Bieito’s Carmen and Nerine in David McVicar’s Medea during 2012/13 season.  Also in the cast are Richard Burkhard as Dr Falke and Andrew Shore as Frank.

Leading the ENO Orchestra will be Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim, making her ENO debut with Die Fledermaus.  Winner of the First Prize at the International Jesús López Cobos Opera Conducting Competition in Madrid in 2008, Eun Sun Kim assisted Cobos at Madrid’s Teatro Real from 2008-2010, and a more recent accolade was her selection as a finalist at the 2013 German Conductor Prize in Berlin.

Die Fledermaus is sung and surtitled in English, with the German libretto – originally created by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée – translated by Stephen Lawless & Daniel Dooner.  Completing the creative team are set designer Allen Moyer, costume designer Constance Hoffman and lighting designer Paul Palazzo.


The London Coliseum
Photo courtesy The London Coliseum

The production will run at the London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane – the biggest, and one of the most elegant, theatres in the city.  It was designed by Frank Matcham for Sir Oswald Stoll, with the aim of creating the largest and finest ‘People’s palace of entertainment’ of its time.  It opened in 1904, with the inaugural performance – a variety bill – taking place on 24th December that year.

Between 1931 and 1968, the theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre.  During the Second World War, it served as a canteen for Air Raid Patrol workers, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals before becoming a cinema, for seven years, from 1961.


Interior of The London Coliseum
Photo credit: G de Laubier

In 1968, the theatre reopened as The London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells Opera, which in 1974 became English National Opera.  The Company bought the freehold of the building in 1992, and the Coliseum underwent a complete and detailed restoration between 2000 and 2004, during which time the auditorium and other public areas were returned to their Edwardian splendour, and new public spaces were created.  An original staircase which had been planned by Frank Matcham, was finally installed, and The London Coliseum re-opened in 2004.

Die Fledermaus runs for 11 performances, from 30th September to 2nd November.  For further information and tickets, please visit the English National Opera website www.eno.org/fledermaus.  Information on all performances in this current ENO season can be found on www.eno.org.

Christopher Alden

Ernst Lubitch

Canadian Opera Company


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LA Phil celebrates 10th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall


Walt Disney Concert Hall – view from Courthouse
Photo credit: Music Center of Los Angeles County

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is about to reach its 10th anniversary, and to mark this momentous occasion, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presents insideOUT, a month-long season of special celebratory events which opens this week. Led by Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, and featuring Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen, insideOUT celebrates Community, Collaboration and The Music of Today in a series of star-studded concerts.


Architect Frank Gehry and Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen
Photo credit: Todd Eberle

This anniversary season takes its name from the vision of architect Frank Gehry:  to create a new kind of concert hall for Los Angeles.  Walt Disney Concert Hall is, he says “ … not just a building for music, but a building for the people …. From the inside out, the building was designed to respond to its surrounding, and serve as a gathering place ….. a building that invites you in …. [where] the body languange is welcoming”.   With what’s described as Gehry’s “ability to understand what it is that people want”, he is said to have an imagination which has much in common with that of Walt Disney himself – one which connects to all types of people.


Music Director of the LA Phil, Gustavo Dudamel
Photo credit: Vern Evans

“The 10th birthday of Walt Disney Concert Hall is a wonderful reason for our great city of Los Angeles to celebrate,” says Gustavo Dudamel. “Our friend and colleague, Frank Gehry, lovingly built this world renowned masterpiece as a living room for the people, and we get to share it with you through our music making.”

The festivities begin on September 25th with a series of free community concerts – just as the LA Phil celebrated the opening of its new home in October 2003 – with free preview concerts for the people of the city, and for schoolchildren from all over Los Angeles County.  The 10th anniversary Neighbourhood Concerts feature special guest Julie Andrews as narrator in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and also local ensembles Las Cafeteras and The Jazz Angels.


Gustavo Dudamel at rehearsal with members of the Youth Orchestra LA
Photo credit: Craig Mathew / Mathew Imaging

The community events culminate in a free Open House Concert, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, in which the Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) will perform alongside the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall – a first-time event in the six-year history of the Youth Orchestra.  The creation of YOLA was inspired by Dudamel’s widely acclaimed artistic vision, and his experience with Venezuela’s El Sistema approach to music education – a system whereby community partners provide free instruments and high quality music instruction to students in communities which would not otherwise have access to these facilities.  A giant screen in Grand Park will show a simulcast of the YOLA/LA Phil Side-by-Side concert, which will also feature a solo performance by legendary pianist Herbie Hancock – LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz.

The 10th anniversary celebrations continue with the LA Phil’s subscription concert season which has its Opening Night Gala on Monday September 30th.  In a series of programs which include both classics and premieres, the Philharmonic will be led by Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and feature a host of outstanding soloists, many of whom have enjoyed a special relationship with the Orchestra since the opening of the Concert Hall.


Walt Disney Concert Hall against the LA skyline
Photo credit: Federico Zignani

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Opening Night Concert, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, in a program specifically designed to represent the development of the Concert Hall – from its conception to completion – using the music of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Adès, Mahler and Saint-Saëns to tell the story.  The program also features installations by video artist Netia Jones, and to illustrate the superb acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall, it opens with John Cage’s 4’33”.

A special Green Umbrella program, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, marks the actual anniversary date on October 23rd, with the first complete realization of LA composer Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels – a uniquely Californian event.

The illustrious guest soloists who’ll appear throughout this anniversary season include piano virtuosi Yefim Bronfman and Leif Ove Andsnes, percussionist Pedro Carneiro, baritone Peter Coleman-Wright, cellist Annssi Kartunen and violinist Leila Josefowitz.  In its inaugural 2003-04 season the LA Phil introduced both World Music and Jazz to its repertoire.  Portuguese fado singer Mariza appeared in that first World Music series, and returns for this anniversary season, and Jazz takes center stage when all three LA Phil Creative Chairs for Jazz – Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride and Herbie Hancock – collaborate in what’s billed as a “one-of-a-kind jazz celebration”.


Herbie Hancock, LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz
Photo credit: Douglas Kirkland

The season also features two world premieres – Magnus Lindberg’s new work for Cello and Orchestra and the Knussen realization of Peter Lieberson’s Shing Kham – both commissioned by the LA Phil.  There’s a US premiere as well, Brett Dean’s The Last Days of Socrates, a commission by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

“The LA Phil,” says Deborah Borda, President and CEO, of the Association “believes in the power of technology as an important driver of consumer engagement.”  So, to add to the wealth of celebratory features this season, two fascinating digital initiatives are being introduced – WDCH10 and Concert Master.

WDCH10 LAphil.com/WDCH10 offers an online exploration of Walt Disney Concert Hall – which will delight those all over the world who haven’t yet had an opportunity to enjoy the wonders of this fascinating venue.  It includes highlights of major LA Phil milestones, architectural information – including an interview with Frank Gehry – interviews with Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and also with special guests who have performed regularly at the Concert Hall.

Concert Master LAPhil.com/ConcertMaster represents the first phase of the LA Phil’s Classical Music Discovery Initiative – an online tool that uses a fun, game-like interface to help people less familiar with classical music choose a concert based on their experiences and behavior.


Auditorium and stage of Walt Disney Concert Hall
Photo credit: Federico Zignani

Deborah Borda succinctly sums up the spirit of this momentous anniversary: “Walt Disney Concert Hall represents the defining qualities of the LA Phil – innovation and excellence.  This magnificent and iconic building continues to inspire us to re-imagine who we could be as both an orchestra and an organization – to push artistic boundaries, provide new channels of access, and redefine the role of today’s orchestra.”

For further information please visit LAPhil.com/insideOUT

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‘Philharmonic Pioneers – Beethoven, the Big Apple and Beyond’


1870 Philharmonic Society concert poster
Photo credit: British Library

The Royal Philharmonic Society of Great Britain celebrates its bicentennial this year.  Special events have been taking place in London throughout the year to mark this historic anniversary, but over the next six weeks, New York steps up to commemorate the founding, 200 years ago, of one of the world’s most illustrious music institutions.

During the Society’s first ever visit to New York City this month, celebratory events will be led by the New York Philharmonic, the Juilliard School and the Morgan Library & Museum.  A season of concerts, exhibitions and talks under the title Philharmonic Pioneers – Beethoven, the Big Apple and Beyond will highlight the achievements of the Royal Philharmonic Society, drawing parallels with New York’s own celebrated Philharmonic tradition.


Directors of the Philharmonic Society with a bust of Beethoven by Johann Schaller, presented to the Society in 1871
Photo credit: British Library

The Royal Philharmonic Society was founded in 1813, and over the years, its own history has reflected that of two centuries of classical music in Britain, as well as further afield.  “The Society,” says Chairman John Gilhooly OBE, “is for people who love music and live music making, and want to ensure a vibrant future for classical music. Founded by musicians to ‘encourage an appreciation by the public in the art of music’ with ‘one great object: the love of their art’, in founding the Philharmonic Society, British musicians opened the doors to the world’s best music and performers, and created a channel of communication that has hummed ever since. These aims hold true today, and 200 years on, we’re excited to be able to share our work, past, present and future, with New York audiences.”

The reason for Beethoven’s prominence in the New York celebrations goes back to the founding of the Royal Philharmonic Society, which had a close association with the composer.  Not only did the Society premiere his 5th and 7th Symphonies, as well as his 1st, 3rd and 4th Piano Concertos, but amongst the many important works which it commissioned was Beethoven’s Symphony No 9, in 1822 – for the sum of £50.

Five years later, when the Society learnt that Beethoven was ill, and in need of financial help, the Directors arranged for a sum of £100 to be sent to him “to be applied to his comforts and necessities”.  Delivery of the money was held up en route, and it didn’t reach Beethoven until a few days before he died.  Nevertheless, he was able to express his heartfelt appreciation for this gift through Schindler – his amanuensis – who reported that “the Society had comforted his last days, and that even on the brink of the grave, he thanked the Society and the whole English nation for the great gift, God bless them.”

The future link between the Royal Philharmonic Society and the New York Philharmonic was established in the 1830s, when Ureli Corelli Hill – who became the founder of the New York Philharmonic in 1842 – travelled to Europe and attended concerts in London given by the Philharmonic Society. “180 years later,” says John Gilhooly, “the RPS is delighted to be making a return visit to New York City as part of its bicentennial celebrations.”


HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Patron of the Royal Philharmonic Society, is shown the copyist’s score of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, annotated by the composer
Photo credit: British Library

The Royal Philharmonic Society – whose patron is Her Majesty the Queen – plays a key role in classical music in the United Kingdom and is still commissioning music to this day, providing assistance to young musicians, and celebrating excellence.  Its work is supported by many leading musicians, amongst whom are distinguished RPS Gold Medallists Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Thomas Quasthoff, Sir Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Alfred Brendel, Placido Domingo, Pierre Boulez and Claudio Abbado.

The New York season, Philharmonic Pioneers – Beethoven, the Big Apple and Beyond, celebrates the genius of Beethoven, as well as the very best in new music, and also those who pioneered the Philharmonic Societies of Great Britain and New York.


Music Director Alan Gilbert with members of the New York Philharmonic
Photo credit: Chris Lee

Amongst the highlights will be five performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 by the New York Philharmonic, led by Music Director, Alan Gilbert.  The symphony will be paired with the US premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze, a work which was written in response to the Beethoven masterpiece,  and co-commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society, the New York Philharmonic and BBC Radio 3.

The Season will also feature the US premieres of new chamber works by Poul Ruders, Magnus Lindberg and Judith Weir – all commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Britten-Pears Foundation, to coincide with the bicentennial of the RPS and the centennial of Benjamin Britten.  The Ruders string quartet will be performed by New York Philharmonic musicians, and Judith Weir’s chamber work, and Magnus Lindberg’s work for Large-Scale Ensemble, will be performed by the New Juilliard Ensemble. These are just three of more than 20 new pieces commissioned by the RPS this year.


RPS Copyist’s score of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, annotated by the composer, from the RPS Archive at the British Library
Photo credit: British Library

In addition to these performances, treasures from the Royal Philharmonic Society Archive at the British Library will be on display, firstly at the Juilliard School Library, then at the Morgan Library and Museum – the first time that these will be seen in New York.  They include two original copyists’ scores of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – the Royal Philharmonic Society’s copyist’s score, annotated by the composer, and that of the Juilliard School’s own original copyist.  The last time that these scores were seen together on public display was in 1824.


Ivory concert tickets belonging to found directors of the Philharmonic Society


RPS Foundation label
Photo credit: Royal Philharmonic Society

At the Bruno Walter Gallery, Avery Fisher Hall, there’ll be an exhibition exploring the pioneering spirit of the founders of both the Royal Philharmonic Society and the New York Philharmonic. Artefacts from the archives of both organisations will be on display, including materials relating to the 1846 US premiere of the Ninth Symphony, which was the first time that the Ode to Joy was translated into English – a commission by the New York Philharmonic. The original choral parts, hand-written translation, and printing plates — all of which are housed in the New York Philharmonic Archives — will be on view alongside correspondence, scores and memorabilia from the RPS Archive at the British Library. Dr Nicolas Bell, curator of the British Library Archive, will give several talks on the commissioning and creation of Beethoven’s great symphony.

The Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture will be delivered at Lincoln Center by Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director of the BBC Proms – the first time that this prestigious lecture will be given outside the United Kingdom.  Entitled A Future for Music – We’re All in this Together – the lecture will impart Roger Wright’s thoughts on the future of classical music.  The annual RPS Lecture, which is frequently controversial, gives leading figures an opportunity to reflect on the current shape of music and its future.  Previous speakers have included Master of the Queen’s Music Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and New Yorker critic Alex Ross.


Leonard Bernstein following the presentation of his RPS Gold Medal in 1987
Photo credit: Royal Philharmonic Society


Sir Michael Tippett presenting Elliot Carter with his RPS Gold Medal in 1996
Photo credit: Royal Philharmonic Society

Speaking at the London launch of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s bicentennial celebrations, RPS Gold Medallist Alfred Brendel said:  “Throughout its history, the Society has made choices which today may seem prescient, but at the time were brave and bold – wonderful pieces by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, but also by Bartók, Elliott Carter or Lutoslawski, which brought the shock of the new to audiences, yet have become part of the repertoire and continue to resonate, enthrall, or at times, tantalise and frustrate, today.  Great artists never stop learning, and great musicians never stop listening. The RPS shares these qualities and I wish it well for 2013 and well beyond!”


Green Plaque on the site of the first UK performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
Photo credit: Royal Philharmonic Society


The Fall season of special events in New York runs from September 25th to December 1st 2013.  For further information please visit the website of The Royal Philharmonic Society

New York Philharmonic  

The Morgan Library and Museum

The Juilliard School


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New York City Ballet celebrates 50 years at Lincoln Center


Ashley Bouder in Jerome Robbins’ ‘Four Seasons’
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

50 ballets, 159 performances, 21 weeks of dance – New York City Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center in spectacular style.  The Company’s  2013-14 season includes 22 works by Co-Founder George Balanchine, 7 by Co-Founding Choreographer Jerome Robbins, and ballets by Mauro Bigonzetti, William Forsythe, Peter Martins, Benjamin Millepied, Justin Peck, Angelin Preljoçaj, Alexei Ratmansky, Richard Tanner and Christopher Wheeldon.


The David H Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, New York
Photo credit: Nils Olander from Panaromio via Wikimedia Commons

The Lincoln Center has been home to New York City Ballet since the opening of the New York State Theater (now the David H Koch Theater) in April 1964.  The second major venue to open at Lincoln Center, the theater was designed by Philip Johnson especially for George Balanchine and the Company – the first was Philharmonic Hall (now known as Avery Fisher Hall) which opened in 1962.

NYCB’s Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins, has designed the performances for this celebratory season to showcase the Company’s extensive repertory of music and dance – a repertory which includes world premieres by Angelin Preljoçaj, Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, and Martins himself.

The 2013-14 season also features a range of musical scores by more than 40 different composers, including two commissions – from Marc-André Dalbavie for the Martins premiere, and from Sufjan Stevens for Justin Peck’s ballet – all to be performed by the 62-piece New York City Ballet Orchestra.

The Fall Gala performance takes place on September 19, featuring three world premieres – by French avant-garde choreographer Angelin Preljoçaj;  film director, choreographer and former NYCB soloist, Benjamin Millepied;  and Justin Peck, NYCB soloist and 2011-12 Choreographer-in-Residence of the New York Choreographic Institute.  Costume designs are by three renowned talents of the fashion industry – Oliver Theyskens, Iris van Herpen and Prabal Gurung.


Sara Mearns in Peter Martins’ ‘Swan Lake’
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

The Company’s Fall performances – which run from September 17 to October 13 – open with Peter Martins’ full-length production of Swan Lake.  This production, set to Tchaikovsky’s score, and first performed by NYCB in 1999, features sets and costumes by acclaimed Danish painter Per Kirkeby, and was last performed by the Company in the fall of 2011, to sold-out houses.


New York City Ballet Company in George Balanchine’s Symphony in 3 Movements.
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

The Fall season continues with 15 ballets in five different programs.  Balanchine Black and White features four of his signature works, those in which he chose to focus on music and movement in favor of decorative costumes.  These include The Four Temperaments – with music commissioned by Balanchine from Paul Hindemith – Episodes, set to music by Webern and regarded as possibly his most avant-garde work, and two works inspired by the music of Stravinsky – Duo Concertant and Symphony in Three Movements.


Megan Fairchild and Chase Finlay in George Balanchine’s ‘Duo Concertant’
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

The program entitled Tradition and Innovation draws together contemporary works and long-time favorites.  So we have Mauro Bigonzetti’s Vespro – dark and sophisticated with intricate choreography – the Balanchine/Stravinsky Duo Concertant, and Jerome Robbins’ supremely elegant Dances at a Gathering, set to a selection of some of Chopin’s loveliest pieces – mainly mazurkas and waltzes.


Tiler Peck and Taylor Stanley in Peter Martins’ ‘Jeu de Cartes’
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

Just for Fun is a program for all ages.  Christopher Wheeldon presents his own interpretation of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Peter Martins’ Jeu de Carte is “a ballet in three deals” – the dancers depicting a game of poker to Stravinsky’s score – and Jerome Robbins’ ballet choreographed to excerpts from Verdi’s The Four Seasons from his opera I Vespri Siciliani.

Contemporary Choreographers features another Wheeldon ballet – his Soirée Musicale, set to an orchestral arrangement of Samuel Barber’s piano suite Souvenirs, the new Angelin Preljoçaj ballet in which he collaborates with Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens – currently Artistic Director of American fashion house Theory – and Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a light-hearted  look at “the clichés of classical ballets”, set to a lively score by Édouard Lalo from his 19th Century French ballet about a slave girl called Namouna.


Maria Kowroski and Joaquin De Luz in George Balanchine’s ‘Prodigal Son’
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

The program entitled Balanchine’s Short Stories comprises three diverse narrative ballets.  La Sonnambula, the tragic sleepwalker who haunts a masked ball, is set to music by Rieti/Bellini;  the powerful story of The Prodigal Son which Balanchine created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, has a score by Prokofiev;  and the racy, risqué and utterly dazzling Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was created by Balanchine for the 1936 Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes.


Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle in George Balanchine’s ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

Visit New York City Ballet’s website for all the details, and follow this link for some superb video clips

Lincoln Center

George Balanchine  

Jerome Robbins  

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Yefim Bronfman takes Tchaikovsky on tour


Yefim Bronfman
Photo credit: Dario Acosta

Piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman arrives in San Francisco this week, at the start of a series of engagements in which he’ll visit four North American cities.  The tour includes performances with the San Francisco Symphony, the NAC Orchestra in Ottawa, the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, all of which will feature one of Mr Bronfman’s signature works, the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1.

Widely recognised as one of the most talented performers of today, Mr Bronfman is known for his “commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts”, acclaimed by critics, and thrilling audiences the world over with his recitals, orchestral appearances and his catalogue of recordings.  The New York Times describes him as “…certainly one of the greatest pianists active today…”.

Born in Tashkent, in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman emigrated to Israel with his family in 1973, at the age of 15.  There he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University.  In the United States, he continued his studies at the Juilliard School, at Marlboro, and the Curtis Institute, under the instruction of teachers such as Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher and Rudolf Serkin.  Mr Bronfman was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1991, and the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize from Northwestern University in 2010.

Rezital 1: Yefim Bronfman; Konzerteinführung Alfred Brendel

Piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman
Photo credit: Georg Anderhub/Lucerne Festival

In 1997, he won a Grammy® award for his recording of the three Bartók piano concertos, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and in 2009 was nominated for a Grammy® for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto, a performance led by the composer.  Mr Bronfman has recorded DVDs with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the Berlin Philharmonic, and his impressive range of CD recordings includes works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Magnus Lindberg, and of course Tchaikovsky – the Piano Concerto No 1 having been recorded with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mariss Jansons.

Already in this 2013-14 season, Yefim Bronfman has appeared at the Aspen, Tanglewood and Grand Teton summer festivals, completed a tour of Amsterdam, Helsinki, Luxembourg, Lucerne and Berlin with the Royal Concertgebouw and performed in Moscow with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra.  After this Fall series of North American concerts, engagements are lined up in Paris, Berlin, Munich, Moscow and Vancouver, before Mr Bronfman goes on tour with the Royal Concertgebouw once more – this time to Australia, as part of the Concertgebouw’s worldwide centenary celebrations.


The New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Photo credit: Chris Lee

Yefim Bronfman is also Artist-in-Residence with the New York Philharmonic this season, and in this capacity he will perform – amongst other works – the complete cycle of Beethoven piano concertos, led by the New York Phil’s Music Director, Alan Gilbert, as well as joining the Orchestra for a winter tour to the Far East.  Next spring will see him embarking on a tour of the US and Canada, with Pinchas Zukerman, and an appearance at the Berlin Philharmonic’s spring residency in Baden-Baden.

1-Porträt_des_Komponisten_Pjotr_I._Tschaikowski_(1840-1893) copy

Source: State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow – via Wikimedia Commons

It almost defies belief that Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, one of the great works of Russian Romanticism, and amongst the best known of all piano concertos, received such a disastrous reception from Nicolai Rubenstein, Director of the Moscow Conservatory, and  the man whom Tchaikovsky had hoped would premiere the work.  It was composed in November and December 1874, and the orchestration was completed in February the following year.   With Rubenstein refusing to perfrom the concerto until a number of revisions had been made, and Tchaikovsky refusing to “alter a single note”, the concerto was premiered at the Music Hall in Boston on October 25, 1875, with soloist Hans von Bülow – to whom it was dedicated.  Benjamin Johnson Lang conducted a freelance orchestra.  Rubenstein, however, was eventually won over, and not only performed the concerto many times, but he became an ardent supporter of the work, which underwent further revisions in the summer of 1879 and December 1888.


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony
Photo credit: Bill Swerbensky


Michael Tilson Thomas – Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony
Photo credit: Courtesy San Francisco Symphony

Yefim Bronfman performs the Tchaikovsky concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall on September 11th, 12th and 14th.  The programme opens with the West Coast premiere of Lineage by young Canadian composer, Zosha Di Castri – a work commissioned as part of the SF Symphony’s New Voices partnership with the New World Symphony in Miami, and Boosey & Hawkes.  The concert also features Prokofiev’s Symphony No 3, the work which the composer considered to be “one of my best compositions”.


Pinchas Zukerman
Photo credit: Cheryl Mazak

The National Arts Center in Ottawa is Mr Bronfman’s next port of call, and there, on September 19th, he’ll perform the Tchaikovsky concerto with the NAC Orchestra, under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman. The programme includes John Estacio’s Brio: Toccata and Fantasy for Orchestra – a work commissioned by the NAC Orchestra – and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5.

Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert Credit:  Chris Lee

Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert
Photo credit: Chris Lee

From September 26th to 28th, Yefim Bronfman will perform with the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, in a programme in which the Tchaikovsky concerto will be preceded by Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso (Morning Song of a Jester), and followed by Leonard Bernstein’s suite of Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.


Walt Disney Concert Hall – View From Courthouse
Photo credit: Music Center of Los Angeles County


Gustavo Dudamel
Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou

In this 10th anniversary season of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic welcome Mr Bronfman and Tchaikovsky from October 3rd to 6th.  The programme includes Schubert’s Symphony No 4 – given the title Tragic by the composer – and the world premiere of an LA Phil commission, Lieberson’s Shing Kham percussion concerto.


For further information on Yefim Bronfman and these performances, please visit the following websites:

Yefim Bronfman

San Francisco Symphony 

National Arts Center, Ottawa  

New York Philharmonic 

Los Angeles Philharmonic 

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‘dance screen 2013 with San Francisco Dance Film Festival’


‘Aloft’ – Director Kate Duhamel and choreographer Yuri Zhukov create an original 3D dance video overlooking San Francisco Bay
© Sandy Lee

The fourth annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival opens in the city on September 12th, and this year, for the first time, the Festival will be produced in collaboration with world-renowned European media arts organization, IMZ – International Music + Media Center.

IMZ is the global association for all those involved in any aspect of audio-visual music and dance, and its dance screen competition and festival – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Europe.  Founded in 1961, under the aegis of UNESCO, IMZ is dedicated to the development and promotion of music and dance through audio-visual media, with a membership which ranges from international brands such as the BBC, Metropolitan Opera New York and Universal Music, to individual composers, choreographers, musicians and directors.

dance screen 2013 with San Francisco Dance Film Festival marks IMZ’s first such partnership outside Europe, enabling participants to meet the European distributors who support, create and distribute dance content to audiences worldwide.  Co-presenters of this international celebration of dance on camera are San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Film Society.


‘Dervishes’ – A study of movement and physical architecture based on the characteristics of circular movement, directed by R J Muna, with choreography by Katherine Helen Fisher
© R J Muna

The San Francisco Dance Film Festival was established in 2010, to provide a platform for the presentation and further development of dance-based films in the Bay Area.  The programme, which includes a diverse range of dance styles, showcases the work of both local and international directors, and is presented through a wide selection of shortscreen films, as well as full-length productions.

Nearly 50 shorts will be shown over the four-day festival, and the collaboration with IMZ will present an opportunity for 21 full-length productions and long-form documentaries to be screened as well.  These include Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco Ballet’s production of The Little Mermaid, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in 3D, and Alexander Ekman’s 40m Under featuring the Cullberg Ballet.  Ballet Boyz: The Next Generation follows the meteoric rise of the all-male company, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:  The Making Of – traces the creative process behind Christopher Wheeldon’s production for The Royal Ballet, and Budding Stars profiles the aspiring young students of the Paris Opera School.


‘Passage’ – Short documentary by Carla Körbes, Principal with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle, on the process of becoming a professional ballerina – directed by Patrick Fraser
© Patrick Fraser

All 70 films will participate in a competition to select the dance screen winner of the best overall film, and the best student film.  Jury members include Balletboyz founders Michael Nunn and William Trevitt;  choreographer, filmmaker and educator Ellen Bromberg;  Lynette Kessler, Artistic and Executive Director of Dance Camera West;  and Muriel Maffre, former dancer with Hamburg Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and San Francisco Ballet, and currently director of the Museum of Performance and Design (MP+D) in San Francisco.

The programme also includes a public forum of panel presentations with professionals from the world of dance, music, filmmaking, technology/media, education and visual arts – during which industry leaders will present and discuss topics ranging from the evolution of dance on screen, and the ways in which science and technology influence dance, to effective pitching techniques for filmmakers.  The forum will also explore the dynamics involved in creating and distributing the art of screendance – dance choreographed specifically for the camera.


Parcour artist Ryan Doyle and members of world champion breakdance crew, Flying Steps, demonstrate remarkable power moves in stereo 3D and super-slow-motion – directed by Peter Clausen, with choreography by Vartan Bassil

The San Francisco Festival will also present the first Co-Laboratory project – a collaboration between three choreographers and filmmakers who will create three short dance films a week before the Festival opens.  The intention is for this project to become an annual event, to inspire and support local artists of different disciplines to collaborate in the creation of dance films, for both local and international audiences.

San Francisco Ballet, America’s oldest professional ballet company, is also one of the three largest in the United States.  Since its founding in 1933, it has enjoyed a long tradition of artistic ‘firsts’ – including the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th century performance of Coppelia in America.  Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson for the past 20 years, San Francisco Ballet has built a reputation as one of the foremost ballet companies in the world, presenting more than 100 performances annually, both in the United States and internationally.  In 2005 the Company was awarded the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Dance’, and the following year, became the first non-European ‘Company of the Year’ in Dance Europe magazine’s annual readers’ poll.


San Francisco Ballet principal, Sarah Van Patten, in ‘White’, showing how visual art can be created through dance. Direction by Tiit Helimets (SF Ballet) and Austin Forbord, with choreography by Helimets
© Austin Forbord

San Francisco Film Society, recognised as a national leader in exhibition, education and filmmaking services, has been bringing to the Bay Area the best in world cinema for the past 50 years.  Headed by Executive Director Ted Hope, the Society reaches an audience of over 100,000 people each year, with more than 100 days of exhibition.  Its acclaimed education programme introduces international, independent and documentary cinema literacy to over 10,000 teachers and students annually, and through its filmmaker services programme – Filmmaker 360 –  it provides essential creative and business services, professional development classes, and funding totalling millions of dollars, to deserving filmmakers at all levels.


‘Outside In’ – Tove Skeidsvoll as Cecilia dances in a forest, in front of a film crew who direct her movements. Directed by Tove Skeidsvoll, Petrus Sjövik and Tyrandora, with choreography by Tove Skeidsvoll
© Petrus-Sjövik

For more information on dance screen 2013 with San Francisco Dance Film Festival and the organisations involved, please follow these links:


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