The Barbican welcomes back the New York Philharmonic with Music Director Alan Gilbert for its second International Associate residency in April 2015. The Philharmonic presents three programmes including a concert of late-Romantic orchestral showpieces, an innovative staged performance of Stravinsky's Petrushka with Giants Are Small, and a concert from CONTACT!, the new-music series. The residency also includes a Young People's Concert, a host of free events across the Centre's foyers and an immersive installation.
Music Director Alan Gilbert opens the residency on Wednesday 15th April by delivering this year's Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture on Orchestras in the 21st Century; a new paradigm, setting the agenda for the Philharmonic's Barbican residency with this topic.
The Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture provides a distinguished platform for leading practitioners and thinkers to discuss and examine the future of classical music.
On Friday 17th April, the first concert of the residency features the UK premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Nyx together with late-Romantic orchestral works by Ravel and Strauss with Joyce DiDonato continuing her Barbican Artist Focus. With a tradition that stretches back through Bernstein, Toscanini and Mahler, the New York sound has been shaped over 170 years. Music director Alan Gilbert understands that tradition innately, and this opening programme plays directly to his orchestra's strengths: Ravel's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales form a discreet contrast to Strauss's sensuous Rosenkavalier suite, whilst Joyce DiDonato's performance of Ravel's Shéhérazade is a great coda to her Artist Spotlight season and another showcase of her artistry. Esa-Pekka Salonen's Nyx is a shimmering 21st century nocturne for orchestra by a living master of tone-colour, who will begin his three-year tenure as the Philharmonic's Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence in the 2015-16 season.
The following day (Saturday 18th April) there will be a concert presenting highlights from the 2014-15 and 2013-14 seasons of CONTACT!, the Philharmonic's new-music series. Launched by Music Director Alan Gilbert in his first season, CONTACT! highlights the works of both emerging and established contemporary composers performed by smaller ensembles of Philharmonic musicians, and has become a crucial part of New York's music landscape. As part of the Barbican residency, Alan Gilbert will introduce and talk audiences through the CONTACT! concert at Milton Court. A celebration of virtuosity, the programme includes another work by Esa-Pekka Salonen: Homunculus alongside Daníel Bjarnason's Five possibilities; Timo Andres' Early to Rise; Missy Mazzoli 's Dissolve, o my heart and Shulamit Ran's Mirage.
Sunday 19th April sees the climax of the residency in a programme featuring three of the 20th century's most glittering ballet scores, each a stunning orchestral showpiece for the New York Philharmonic. Concert performances of Debussy's Jeux and Bartók's Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin are followed by the European premiere of the theatrical reimagining of Stravinsky's Petrushka by the genre-bending production company Giants Are Small: live puppetry, circus, dance and visuals interact with the orchestra in a carnivalesque spectacle that blurs the lines between reality and imagination, audience and performer.
Earlier on Sunday the Giants Are Small and New York Philharmonic Young People's Concert takes place, also featuring a full staging of Petrushka , which is accompanied by a host of free family events in the Barbican foyers during the day. Activities have been programmed with the Barbican's partner Music Hubs in East London and the orchestra themselves and run from 1pm to 4pm and include a puppetry drop-in class, percussion workshops, singing workshops and the opportunity to watch masterclasses with young people from Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Waltham Forest Music Services.
Sunday afternoon also sees five world premieres on the Barbican Freestage, which is the culmination of the Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning team's project around the New York Philharmonic's Barbican International Associate residency. Since December 2014 five young composers in East London have been partnering with five young composers in New York to discuss and explore each other's cities and create new music inspired by postcards, emails and skype exchanges they've had with each other. These new pieces will be performed by musicians from the New York Philharmonic and Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Throughout the residency a new installation called Build Your Own Orchestra will be in place in the Barbican's Fountain Room and participants can compose and construct their own New York Philharmonic performance, find out how a piece of classical music deconstructs and discover more about the New York Philharmonic players, continuing the Barbican residency's 'Orchestras in the 21st century' theme. The installation was designed and created by Musicjelly, who travelled to New York to record and film eighteen New York Philharmonic musicians. This is the first time Musicjelly's intuitive audio-visual mixing technology has been teamed with classical musicians, allowing the complete novice to build their own versions of Beethoven and Mozart symphonies using simple interactive touch-screens and ambient projections.