Conductor
April 12, 2018
Semyon Bychkov to Lead New York Philharmonic in Performances of Two Programs, Which Include Works by Berio, Shostakovich, and Richard Strauss, May 17-26
Musacchio & Ianniello

First program (May 17-19, 22) comprises Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Brahms’s Tragic Overture, and Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto, featuring Bertrand Chamayou in his Philharmonic debut

Second program (May 24-26) comprises R. Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony and 50th anniversary performances of Berio’s Sinfonia, featuring Roomful of Teeth in its Philharmonic debut

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (April 12, 2018) — This May, conductor Semyon Bychkov leads the New York Philharmonic in two programs featuring symphonies by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich and Sinfonia by Mr. Bychkov’s late friend and collaborator Luciano Berio, among other works. Mr. Bychkov conducts Brahms’s Tragic Overture, Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto with Bertrand Chamayou in his Philharmonic debut, and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony on Thursday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 18 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 19 at 8:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. He then conducts Berio’s Sinfonia, featuring vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth in its Philharmonic debut, and Richard Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony on Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 25 at 2:00 p.m.; and Saturday, May 26 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets starting at $29 are available via nyphil.org, the David Geffen Hall box office, or by calling (212) 875-5656.

On the first program, following the Brahms overture and Mendelssohn concerto, Mr. Bychkov conducts Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, which he recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1987 (winner of the Belgian Caecilia Award and Stereo Review’s Record of the Year). As a young man, he used to see the composer around Leningrad, and has said:

“My affinity to Shostakovich [is] colossal because he was a spokesman for his people. Shostakovich had to find a way to express what people were living, what they were feeling, what they were thinking, but to do it in a way that would be allowed, so that everyone [would] understand it the way that they wanted to understand it. … The authorities would explain his music in a way that was advantageous to the ideology, whereas the people … immediately understood what was behind the notes.”

The second program opens with Berio’s Sinfonia,originally premiered 50 years ago by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of the composer. Berio subsequently added a fifth movement, and this version was first performed by the Philharmonic two years later under Leonard Bernstein, the work’s dedicatee.

Mr. Bychkov became close friends with Berio after meeting him at a 1987 Cleveland performance of the composer’s Concerto for Two Pianos, conducted by Berio and featuring the Labèque sisters who had inspired the concerto's composition.

“That night began a very beautiful friendship which lasted until the end of his life, with several shared projects,” said Mr. Bychkov. “Sometimes, we would spend entire hours on the phone as I had many questions to ask him concerning Sinfonia [and other works]. … He was very patient, and he had such a joyful way in discussing music, all kinds of music.”

About Sinfonia in particular, Mr. Bychkov said:

“Once in a while in every century a musical composition appears which shocks, overwhelms, inspires, and shows the new ways to its successors. Sinfonia … does exactly that in our lifetime by taking us on a voyage through the history of music and its mysterious nature. Nearly half a century after its creation we are still held breathless in the face of its beauty, fantasy, and limitless horizons.”

The second movement is a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., whose death is also being commemorated around the nation this year.

Mr. Bychkov recorded Sinfonia with the Orchestre de Paris and vocal ensemble Electric Phoenix in 1996. Roomful of Teeth joins Mr. Bychkov in these New York performances, having previously performed the work, scored for eight amplified voices and orchestra, with the Seattle, BBC, and Stony Brook Symphony Orchestras.

The program concludes with Richard Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony, which he recorded as Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln in 2009. Describing the work on NPR, he said: “It took me a while to figure out that in fact it was not what I thought it was—this programmatic work which describes a trip through the Alps. The core of the piece is human life and what one goes through in it, with the joys and the sorrows and struggle and achievement.”

These performances will mark Mr. Bychkov’s third consecutive season conducting the New York Philharmonic. In 2015-16, he led performances of two programs featuring works by Brahms, Mahler, and contemporary German composer Detlev Glanert, and in 2016-17, he curated and conducted the Philharmonic Festival Beloved Friend: Tchaikovsky and His World, part of his larger, international Tchaikovsky project that he continues with the Czech Philharmonic in a recording cycle of the composer’s complete symphonies and piano concertos, among other orchestral works. Next season, he returns to the New York Philharmonic for two weeks of performances in the spring: April 24, 25, 27, and 30, 2019 and May 2-4, 2019.

Internationally recognized for an approach to music making that combines innate musicality with the rigors of Russian music pedagogy, Semyon Bychkov will assume the title of Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. He has conducted virtually all of the major orchestras in the U.S. and Europe and previously served as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, and Orchestre de Paris, and Chief Conductor of both the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and the Dresden Semperoper. Mr. Bychkov currently holds the honorary Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he appears annually at the BBC Proms. In 2015, the International Opera Awards named him “Conductor of the Year.”

In addition to these New York Philharmonic performances, Mr. Bychkov’s upcoming engagements include performances in the U.S. with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony, and in Europe with the Czech and Munich Philharmonics. He also conducts Parsifal this summer at the Bayreuth Festival. Next season in the fall, he will conduct a U.S. tour with the Czech Philharmonic in his first season leading that orchestra. For more information, visit semyonbychkov.com.

Pianist Bertrand Chamayou has performed in distinguished venues including Paris’s Théâtre des Champs Elysées, New York’s Lincoln Center, Munich’s Herkulessaal, and London’s Wigmore Hall. He has appeared at major festivals including the Mostly Mozart Festival, Lucerne Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, and Klavier-Festival Ruhr. He has worked with orchestras including the London and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras; Frankfurt Radio, Cologne’s WDR, NHK, and Danish National Symphony Orchestras; as well as Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Orchestre National de France, collaborating with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Semyon Bychkov, Neville Marriner, and Leonard Slatkin. He appeared with Mr. Bychkov earlier this season in engagements with the Orquesta Nacional de España and Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. For more information, visit bertrandchamayou.com.

Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy-winning vocal project dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from vocal traditions the world over, the eight-voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an ongoing commissioning process, forges a new repertoire without borders. Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, Roomful of Teeth gathers annually at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts, where the group has studied with some of the world’s top performers and teachers in Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Broadway belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical singing, and death metal singing. For information, visit roomfulofteeth.org.

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David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
Thursday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 18 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 19 at 8:00 p.m. 
Tuesday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Semyon Bychkov, conductor
New York Philharmonic

Bertrand Chamayou, piano (New York Philharmonic debut)

BRAHMS  Tragic Overture
MENDELSSOHN  Piano Concerto No. 1
SHOSTAKOVICH  Symphony No. 5

David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 25 at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 26 at 8:00 p.m. 

Semyon Bychkov, conductor
New York Philharmonic

Roomful of Teeth (New York Philharmonic debut)

BERIO  Sinfonia
R. STRAUSS  An Alpine Symphony

Tickets starting at $29 are available via nyphil.org, the David Geffen Hall box office, or by calling (212) 875-5656.

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Press contact:
Shuman Associates
shumanpr@shumanassociates.net | (212) 315-1300

 

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