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Sunday, 23 February 2014 11:21

Saratoga Performing Arts Center Announces 2014 Season of The Philadelphia Orchestra


SARATOGA SPRINGS – A dynamic lineup of internationally-renowned classical soloists, famed guest conductors, star-studded pops evenings and exciting premieres will highlight the 2014 residency of The Philadelphia Orchestra at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), August 6 – 23. Highlights of the season include: conducting appearances by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the acclaimed Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra; the New York premiere of composer Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, a multi-media work featuring Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen;  classical superstars including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Jeremy Denk and Alison Balsom; an American Songbook Opening Night; and a Broadway  extravaganza with Tony Award nominees Stephanie Block and Andrew Rannells.  Sharing the podium with Yannick Nézet-Séguin during the season will be a stellar cast of guest conductors including Bramwell Tovey, Cristian Macelaru, Steven Reineke and Stéphane Denève


“Each August when The Philadelphia Orchestra returns to its summer stage at SPAC, we have the privilege of hosting one of the world’s greatest orchestras in one of the world’s greatest settings,” said Marcia J. White, SPAC’s President and Executive Director. “Yet, the story of each season is written by the programming; that unique combination of conductor, repertoire and soloist that, at its best, can engage the audience in an experience they will never forget. Each and every evening of our spectacular 2014 season has been curated with that goal in mind.”  


“One of the most anticipated events of the season will be the return of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Orchestra’s acclaimed Music Director who has become one of the most sought-after and admired conductors on the international music scene. His gift for connecting with artists and audiences is reinvigorating the concert hall experience and attracting a new generation to classical music,” said Ms. White. “Yannick will lead two extraordinary programs including the New York premiere of Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun’s captivating Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, an artistically and emotionally powerful multi-mediatour de force.”


“Itzhak Perlman, arguably the finest violinist of our time, will make his first appearance at SPAC since 2007,” she continued. “Beloved for his charm and humanity and revered for his extraordinary talent, he has brought joy to millions across the world through his music. We are proud to offer audiences the opportunity to experience Mr. Perlman’s gifts as both a violinist and conductor on one extraordinary evening.” 


“One of the most highly anticipated aspects of the Orchestra season are the opportunities it offers our audiences to see, hear and experience true virtuosos; soloists whose extraordinary gifts have earned them the status of  ‘best in the world,’” said White. “During our 2014 Orchestra season, the cast of talents who will join us includes longtime friends such as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman as well as several celebrated soloists who we will introduce on our stage for the first time including Jeremy Denk, Alison Balsom, Alisa Weilerstein, Miloš Karadaglić,Alain Lefèvre and Denis Kozhukhin.”


“Overall, it is a spectacular program, with an exceptional variety of offerings designed to appeal to a range of musical tastes. From the traditional to the innovative; from the classical to the contemporary, this is a stunning season that will showcase the depth and versatility of this extraordinary orchestra and offer our audiences unparalleled experiences,” said White.  


Yannick  NÉzet-SÉguin  Returns to SPAC


YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN, following a triumphant 2012-13 inaugural season as Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra, returns to the podium at SPAC to conduct two stellar programs on August 14 and 15.  Regarded by critics and audiences alike as one of the most extraordinary talents on the international music scene, Yannick’s leadership of the Orchestra has been widely praised; the New York Times heralded a January 2013 concert as “phenomenal…the ensemble, famous for its glowing strings and homogeneous richness, has never sounded better.” The Financial Times noted, “…Nézet-Séguin may just be the most compelling, most accomplished conductor of his generation.”


A conductor who finds inspiration from music of all generations and genres, Nézet-Séguin’s programs often juxtapose traditional, symphonic works from the orchestra repertoire with works that offer contrasts in style, historical period or other elements.  That theme is present in both of the programs Yannick will lead at SPAC:


§  AUGUST 14|  Yannick Returns! with Guest Artists Alison Balsom and Miloš Karadaglić


British trumpeter ALISON BALSOM, Gramophone’s 2013 “Artist of the Year,” makes her SPAC debut performing the impressive Haydn Trumpet Concerto, a work that is considered the crown jewel among Haydn’s works for soloist and orchestra.  Sharing the solo spotlight with Ms. Balsom and also making his SPAC debut will be Montenegrin guitarist, MILOŠ KARADAGLIĆ, Gramophone’s 2011 “Young Artist of the Year,” who will perform Rodrigo’sserene and beautiful Concierto de Aranjuez.  The program concludes with a towering symphonic masterpiece – Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, (“Pathetique”),an intensely expressive work composed shortly before Tchaikovsky’s death. The darkness that resonates throughout the work is reflective of the composer’s emotional state at the time he wrote it. It is considered by many to be his greatest symphony.


§  AUGUST 15 | Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women and Mahler Symphony No. 1


Passionately committed to, and passionate about, the work of current day composers and equally committed to showcasing the artistry within the Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the Orchestra and Principal Harpist Elizabeth Hainen in the New York premiere of Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, a multi-media work created by Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dan (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The Chinese-born Tan Dun was commissioned by the Orchestra, along with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, to create the work for Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen. The piece is a dramatic, 12-movement symphony and accompanying series of micro films, that bring to life the ancient secret language – Nu Shu – shared only by women in the remote area of Tan’s home province of Hunan, China.  


Maestro Nézet-Séguin will then lead the Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s extravagant Symphony No. 1 “Titan,” a work which is the perfect expression of one of Mahler’s most quoted sayings: “The symphony is a world; it must contain everything.”  Mahler’s symphony envelopes a variety of influences: from the sounds of nature to popular waltzes to funeral marches and folk songs. It ends with a thrilling, dramatic intensity.   


Special Programs and Pops


§  AUGUST 6 | The American Songbook: Gershwin, Bernstein and Copland


The Opening Night of the Orchestra’s Saratoga program on August 6 will celebrate the genius of three of the greatest American composers of all time: Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Aaron Copland. Each wrote works that straddled the classical and popular idioms and helped define the sound of 20th century American music. Led by Grammy Award-winning conductor BRAMWELL TOVEY, music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the LA Philharmonic's summer series, the Orchestra will take audiences on a musical journey through the composers’ iconic works, accompanied by a Broadway vocalist (tba). An accomplished pianist, Maestro Tovey will step down from the podium to perform Gershwin’s groundbreaking Rhapsody in Blue.  


§  AUGUST 15 | Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for 12 Micro Films, Harp & Orchestra


Saratoga Performing Arts Center is proud to host The Philadelphia Orchestra and Principal Harp ELIZABETH HAINEN presenting the New York premiere of composer Tan Dan’s groundbreaking multi-media masterpiece, Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women. Five years of research went into creating the work which explores Nu Shu, an ancient language, secretly created by women in a remote area of Hunan, China and passed through the generations by reading, writing and singing. Tan Dun filmed over 200 hours of video and audio recordings of the last remaining women who still speak the language. The films, projected onto three screens, accompany the orchestra and harp and feature such titles as, “Secret Fan,” “Dressing for the Wedding,” and “Longing for her Sister.”  Of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2013 US Premiere, Tom Purdom of Broad Street Review praised:


“…one of the most moving finales I have experienced in a concert hall. In one stroke, Tan Dun honors the sacrifices and achievements of the past, and connects it to the future…Tan Dun has given it an artistic expression worthy of its magnitude.”


The symphony was created for harp solo, an instrument Tan Dun selected because “of its beautiful feminine sound” and distinctive shape – similar to one of the ancient Nu Shucharacters.  Combining the fields of anthropology, musicology, history and philosophy, Tan Dunweaves heartrending stories of mothers, daughters, sisters and how they navigate their lives through the music of Nu Shu.



§  AUGUST 20 | Itzhak Perlman Plays and Conducts

Violin virtuoso and classical music icon ITZHAK PERLMAN makes his highly anticipated return to SPAC on August 20 for the first time since 2007. Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. The winner of 15 Grammy Awards and four Emmy Awards, the musician will perform dual roles of soloist and conductor for the performance. With his expressive musicianship, Perlman will perform Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor. Then, trading the violin for the baton, Perlman will conduct Weber’s Overture to his English-language opera Oberon and Brahm’s much-loved Symphony No. 1.



§  AUGUST 9 | POPS: Cirque de la Symphonie


Back by popular demand, Cirque de la Symphonie returns to SPAC for an August 9 program. Currently a sell-out show at concert halls across the US, the stunning production features world-record holders, gold medal winners and former Olympians performing acrobatics, aerial feats and astonishing displays of strength uniquely choreographed to classical music masterpieces. Under the direction of Cristian Macelaru, Associate Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, the troupe will present an all-new program featuring a breadth of symphonic repertoire including “Carnival Overture,”  “Spanish Dance” from La Vida Breve, “Ritual Fire Dance” from El Amor Brujo, “Flight to Neverland” from Hook and “Danse des Bouffons” from The Snow Maiden. The San Francisco Examiner has called the show, "..dazzling and elegant, if not death-defying!"



§  AUGUST 13 | POPS: “On Broadway” starring Tony Nominees Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells


On August 13, SPAC welcomes back New York Pops Conductor Steven Reineke for “On Broadway,” an evening celebrating the music from some of Broadway’s most beloved shows.  Joining Mr. Reineke and the Orchestra will be Tony Award nominees STEPHANIE J. BLOCKand ANDREW RANNELLS. Block, best known for her portrayal of Elphaba in Broadway’s Wicked and Rannells, a multi-faceted talent whose breakout role as Elder Price in Broadway’s The Book of Mormon earned him Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League award nominations and who currently stars in HBO comedy series Girls, will sing some of Broadway’s most unforgettable hits from the past and present including selections from West Side Story, Carousel, Ragtime, The Book of Mormon, Wicked, and more.


Guest Artists and Conductors


Hailed by the international press as “an astonishing virtuosa" (The Times) with “a true poet of the trumpet…” (BBC Music Magazine), 34-year-old ALISON BALSOM makes her first appearance at SPAC on August 14 with a performance of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. The 2013 Gramophone “Artist of the Year,” Balsom  was raised in Royston, England where she grew up playing in brass bands; today she is one of the few classical musicians to have achieved a successful solo career on the trumpet.


Also making his first appearance at SPAC this season will be MacArthur Fellowship recipient and Musical America’s 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year, JEREMY DENK. Regarded as one of America’s most thought provoking, multi-faceted and compelling artists, Denk performs with the world’s greatest orchestras and symphonies and regularly gives recitals throughout the US. Praised by the New York Times as a pianist “…you want to hear, no matter what he performs,” Denk is also known for his original and insightful writing on music, which the New Yorker’s Alex Ross praises for its “arresting sensitivity and wit.” He will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, a work that Beethoven himself premiered in 1798.


Joining the list of soloists making their SPAC debut is Montenegrin guitarist MILOŠ KARADAGLIĆ, hailed as a “new guitar hero” by the London Telegraph. Miloš came to international attention in 2011 with his debut album The Guitar (Mediterraneo) which, in the space of just a few months, topped classical charts around the world and earned Miloš Gramophone’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award. Miloš will make his SPAC debut performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. The work, which premiered in Barcelona in 1940, was an instant success, leading many musicologists to attribute Rodrigo for making classical guitar music popular.


Award-winning cellist and icon of the music world, YO-YO MA brings his stunning musical gifts to the Orchestra stage in a performance of two of Tchaikovsky’s most popular and melodious works: the Andante cantabile and his virtuosic Variations on a Rococo Theme. Arguably the world’s greatest living cellist, Yo-Yo Ma is a champion of musical innovation and cross cultural exchange which he has pursued through initiatives such as the Silk Road Project and countless cross-genre collaborations.


French Canadian pianist ALAIN LEFÈVRE makes his SPAC debut on the Orchestra’s August 16 program. Lefèvre, winner of a 2010 JUNO award for Best Classical Album of the Year, has worked with orchestras all over the world, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony and the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. Described by the Toronto Star as “the 10 most agile fingers to have emerged from Quebec,” Lefèvre has performed in more than thirty countries worldwide. Lefèvre will perform Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, a work that, along with his opera Porgy and Bess, is regarded as Gershwin’s most successful fusion of classical music with jazz and popular music.


American cellist and 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellow ALISA WEILERSTEIN (Aug 21)has attracted widespread attention worldwide for playing that combines a natural virtuosic command and technical precision with impassioned musicianship. The Los Angeles Times said, “Weilerstein’s cello is her id. She doesn’t give the impression that making music involves will at all. She and the cello seem simply to be one and the same.” Weilerstein, who will be making her first orchestral appearance at SPAC, will perform the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto, the Romantic Era composer’s brilliant tour de force.


Young, dynamic Russian pianist DENIS KOZHUKHIN, lauded by critics around the world for his technical prowess and compelling performances, will make his SPAC debut on August 23 performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a work that has the reputation of being one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the classical repertoire. Launched onto the international scene after winning First Prize in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels at the age of 23, he has quickly established a formidable reputation, eliciting the following observation from Classical Source, “…it may well be that Denis Kozhukhin can be considered as the leader of the pack of Russian pianists currently under forty.”


YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN, Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra,  returns to SPAC in 2014 (Aug 14, 15) for the first time since his highly praised debut in 2012.  (see page 2 for more detail)


Since his Saratoga debut in 2011, internationally renowned conductor BRAMWELL TOVEY has become a favorite on the SPAC podium as a result of his artistic depth, humor and charismatic personality. He returns in 2014 to lead three programs (Aug 6 – 8) including Opening Night which will feature the maestro as concert pianist in a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  The multi-talented Tovey is the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and founding host and conductor of the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics series at Avery Fisher Hall.


Conducting two programs (Aug 9, 16) during the season will be CRISTIAN MACELARU, Associate Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra. The Romanian-born conductor has earned numerous accolades for his artistry, including the 2012 Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award. During the 2013–14 season, Mr. Macelaru will make a highly-anticipated subscription debut with the National Symphony Orchestra, a return to the Chicago Symphony, and appearances with the Florida Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Alabama Symphony and San Antonio Symphony.  


New York Pops Conductor STEVEN REINEKE returns to lead “On Broadway,” (Aug 13) a pops program of Broadway hits, past and present. The dynamic maestro has emerged as one of America’s premier pops conductors. In addition to the New York Pops, he holds conducting posts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


Conducting the final week of the Orchestra’s season (Aug 21, 22 & 23) will be French-born conductor STÉPHANE DENÈVE, Chief Conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and former Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Denève, who made his debut on SPAC’s podium in 2011, has become a favorite with classical music audiences worldwide for his charismatic and “kinetic presence on the podium.” In 2012, he was shortlisted for Gramophone’s “Artist of the Year” award.


Ticket prices for SPAC’s Orchestra performances start at $24 for lawn seats; inside seating ranges from $32 to $85. The Kids in Free program entitles children 12 and under to free lawn admission for Orchestra performances.  The Student Discount program allows students of all ages to purchase lawn admission for $10 or inside seating at a 25 percent discount. Tickets to the Orchestra and SPAC’s classical season go on sale online at spac.org on February 25 for members and March 18 for the general public.  Box Office and phone sales begin on May 15.



About Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, located in the historic resort town of Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, has established a reputation as one of America’s most prestigious summer festivals. Its tranquil setting in a 2,400-acre park preserve surrounded by hiking trails, geysers, and natural mineral springs draws vacation crowds and arts connoisseurs each year to its summer programming, which includes summer residencies by New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The 2014 summer season will also include engagements by the Bolshoi Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company and MOMIX, concerts by Live Nation and productions by Opera Saratoga.  The final curtain of the SPAC season comes down in early September with the annual Saratoga Wine and Food Festival, one of the fastest-growing wine and food events in the nation.  Information and tickets are available at spac.org



2014 Saratoga Season*


August 6 - 23



Wednesday, August 6th


Opening Night: The American Songbook


Bramwell Tovey Conductor

Vocalist, TBA


GERSHWIN Strike Up The Band

BERNSTEIN Three Dance Episodes from On The Town

GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue

BERNSTEIN Glitter and Be Gay

GERSHWIN Various Songs

COPLAND Billy the Kid Suite (TBC)

Thursday, August 7th


An Evening on The Rhine


Bramwell Tovey Conductor

Jeremy Denk Piano


BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1

BEETHOVEN Egmont Overture

MAHLER Blumine

STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier Suite


Friday, August 8th

An Evening with Yo-Yo


Bramwell Tovey Conductor

Yo-Yo Ma Cello


DELIUS Song of Summer

TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme

TCHAIKOVSKY Andante Cantabile


Saturday, August 9th


Cirque de la Symphonie


Cristian Macelaru Conductor


Repertoire including “Carnival  Overture,”Spanish Dance” from La Vida Breve, “Ritual Fire Dance” from El Amor Brujo, “Flight to Neverland” from Hook, “Danse des Bouffons” from The Snow Maiden and more.

Wednesday, August 13th

POPS: On Broadway


Steven Reineke Conductor

Stephanie  Block, vocals

        Andrew Rannells, vocals


Selections from Broadway hits including West Side Story, Carousel, Ragtime, The Book of Mormon, Wicked, Smokey Joe’s Café, Kiss of the Spiderwoman and more.


Thursday, August 14th

Yannick  Returns!


Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Alison Balsom Trumpet

Miloš Karadaglić Guitar


HAYDN Trumpet Concerto

RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez

TCHAIKOVSKY SymphonyNo. 6 (“Pathetique”)

Friday, August 15th


Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women



Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor

Elizabeth Hainen, Harp


TAN DUN Nu Shu: Secret Songs of Women

MAHLER Symphony No. 1


Saturday, August 16th

Celebration of an Artist


Cristian Macelaru Conductor

Alain Lefèvre Piano



GERSHWIN Piano Concerto in F

RACHMANINOFF Symphonic Dances

Wednesday, August 20st

An Evening with Itzhak Perlman


Itzhak  Perlman Conductor
         Itzhak Perlman Violin


BACH A minor Violin Concerto

WEBER Oberon Overture

BRAHMS Symphony No. 1

Thursday, August 21nd

An Evening with Alisa Weilerstein


Stéphane Denève Conductor

Alisa Weilerstein Cello


BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture

SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto

ROSSINI William Tell Overture

RESPIGHI Pines of Rome

Friday, August 22rd


Stéphane Denève Conductor



Saturday, August 23th

Tchaikovsky Spectacular!

Stéphane Denève Conductor

Denis Kozhukhin Piano


RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3

PROKOFIEV Cinderella Selections

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture

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