The New York Philharmonic’s 2016–17 season celebrates two major milestones: the Orchestra’s 175th anniversary and Alan Gilbert’s valedictory season as Music Director. The season will honor the Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert’s shared hometown of New York City, and celebrate the myriad initiatives Alan Gilbert has introduced throughout his tenure that have become part of the fabric of today’s New York Philharmonic.
Throughout the anniversary season, the Philharmonic will celebrate New York City and its role as home to the Orchestra and to a diverse population. The Philharmonic will engage with New Yorkers citywide through The New World Initiative, which will seek to make Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World — the Philharmonic’s first World Premiere of a work written in New York — a cultural touchstone for as many New Yorkers as possible. The Philharmonic will explore Dvořák’s New World Symphony, and its famous Largo theme commonly known as “Goin’ Home,” to initiate conversations about the theme of “home” through performances — from the Opening Gala Concert on September 21, 2016, through the Concerts in the Parks in the summer of 2017 — as well as education projects and community outreach.
The 175th anniversary season also honors the Philharmonic’s steadfast tradition of commissioning and premiering new works with the launch of The New York Commissions — featuring the World Premieres of New York–themed works by New York–based composers with ties to the Philharmonic — as well as in programs that spotlight past and present commissions and premieres. And the Philharmonic will showcase its cinematic home through iconic films set in New York, as part of the fourth annual THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic and the Spring Gala, both of which will feature full screenings of quintessential New York films accompanied by live performances of their acclaimed scores. The Philharmonic also continues its mission of serving as a resource for New York City through its annual free concerts across the city, Philharmonic Free Fridays for young people, and wide-ranging education programs.
A native New Yorker himself, Music Director Alan Gilbert — born and raised in Manhattan to a Japanese mother and Tennessean father, both former Philharmonic musicians — will complete a tenure defined by innovative programming and partnerships, fresh perspectives on classic works, commitment to new music, and an approachability that has aspired to make the New York Philharmonic and classical music more relevant to both New Yorkers and audiences around the world.
The season demonstrates how Alan Gilbert’s initiatives have become part of the fabric of the institution. These include the positions of The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence (violinist Leonidas Kavakos in 2016–17), The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence (EsaPekka Salonen, in the second season of his three-season tenure), and Artist-in-Association (pianist Inon Barnatan, concluding his three-season tenure); CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the annual, multi-week Philharmonic festival (Beloved Friend — Tchaikovsky and His World, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, in 2016–17). Maintaining a precedent he set in his inaugural season, Alan Gilbert will present a compelling mix of the classic and the new throughout his farewell season, and will be joined by many of his close collaborators. Highlights of his farewell season include premieres; performances of favorite works by composers including Mahler, Schoenberg, Bartók, Handel, John Adams, Wagner, Brahms, and Beethoven; a concert celebrating his 50th birthday; conducting the Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer; and his final tour as Music Director, EUROPE / SPRING 2017, featuring many of Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic’s signature projects. Mr. Gilbert will conclude his final subscription season with a special program exploring how music and musicians can effect positive change and harmony in the world, a mission close to his heart and long pursued by the Philharmonic.
“The New York Philharmonic has always been and will always be my musical home,” said Music Director Alan Gilbert. “My final season as Music Director — and the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season — will present music that the Orchestra and I love, and will celebrate New York City, our shared hometown. Looking back on my tenure, I am particularly proud that the projects and collaborative approach I introduced in my first season are now woven into the fabric of the Philharmonic. I will always treasure the sense of warmth and family with the musicians of the Orchestra: there’s nothing better than to share the stage with friends. My final weeks encapsulate some of my musical aspirations, with the final subscription program examining a question I see as crucial to the future: how music can be a positive force in a world faced with crises. It speaks in part to what I hope I have accomplished at this great Orchestra — to make music an essential part of this city, our world, and people’s lives.”
“The 2016–17 season marks a watershed moment for the New York Philharmonic,” said President Matthew VanBesien. “We are celebrating 175 seasons of serving our dynamic hometown, New York City, through performance, education, and outreach. We also celebrate Alan Gilbert’s many significant contributions as Music Director, which have become part of the Philharmonic’s very identity and have helped us evolve into an Orchestra for today and tomorrow. I can’t wait to experience the special projects that reflect Alan’s impact on the Philharmonic over eight seasons, and look forward to his frequent returns in the future. It will also be a pleasure to welcome back Jaap van Zweden, the exciting conductor who will succeed Alan as Music Director. At a time when the Philharmonic and the world at large are thinking about the idea of home, we are proud to honor ours through The New World Initiative — which salutes our living history and home through community connectivity — The New York Commissions, which give a platform to the voices of quintessentially New York composers, and other activities.”
“One of the many wonderful things about the New York Philharmonic is the place it holds in New York City and the way it reflects the very personality of those of us who live here,” said Chairman Oscar S. Schafer. “Alan Gilbert, himself a native New Yorker, truly understands this, and we thank him for all of his accomplishments and his strong artistic vision that has helped the Orchestra break new ground during his Music Directorship. The plans and projects for the 175th anniversary and Alan’s farewell season focus on celebrating and expanding the Philharmonic’s connection with our community. This connection inspires us as we continue to redefine what it means to be an orchestra today.”