Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director Jonathon Heyward ushers in next chapter for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra
Commissions and timeless classics alongside new collaborations with the
New York Philharmonic, New York City Public Schools, Jameel Arts
and Health Lab and the World Health Organization
Spotlight on technology and music with Augmented Reality (AR) exhibit
on Schumann, Bach, and mental health; and North American
premiere of City of Floating Sounds by Huang Ruo
NEW YORK, NY (February 5, 2024) – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today announced the inaugural season under Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director Jonathon Heyward with Lincoln Center’s beloved summer orchestra, the newly named Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center. The full roster of Orchestra musicians follows after the program listings.
Presented as part of Lincoln Center’s third annual Summer for the City, the Orchestra’s season builds upon its legacy of exceptional music-making and dedication to welcoming new audiences into classical music with accessible and engaging concerts featuring exciting premieres and commissions paired with timeless classics.
Past meets present with pieces by Beethoven, Bologne, and Mozart performed alongside contemporary works by Louis W. Ballard, Peter Lieberson, Caroline Shaw, and a Lincoln Center and Musikkollegium Winterthur co-commission and world premiere by Hannah Kendall. The season also highlights the intersections of music and technology with an immersive AR exhibit on Schumann, Bach, and mental health in David Geffen Hall, and the North American premiere of Huang Ruo’s new City of Floating Sounds, co-commissioned by Factory International and Lincoln Center.
Core to the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center’s mission is expanding audiences for classical music—through repertoire, educational initiatives, and affordable ticketing options. All performances will be Choose-What-You-Pay, starting at $5.
“I believe strongly in respecting the traditions of classical music while reimagining the future, and this first season embodies that,” said Jonathon Heyward, Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center. “This Orchestra’s history is one I admire greatly, both from the perspective of its place in the hearts of so many New Yorkers who have found classical music through its summer performances and the incredible joy, care, and skill the musicians bring to the stage. Collaborating with them the past two summers has been thrilling and I know this summer will be even more so. I am grateful to these phenomenal musicians and the audiences we’re so looking forward to welcoming this summer.”
One of the most exciting conductors on the national and international scene, Heyward currently serves as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and is in his third year as Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany. His commitment to education, community outreach, and the unifying power of classical music is the driving force behind his work. He made his Lincoln Center debut in August 2022 during the inaugural Summer for the City festival and made his New York Philharmonic debut in April 2023.
About the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center’s Summer 2024 Season:
The official opening concerts feature Heyward leading the Orchestra in the North American premiere of Huang Ruo’s City of Floating Sounds, a piece that expands the boundaries of orchestral music far beyond the walls of the concert hall. The interactive work fuses music and technology, beginning with a mobile app-enabled soundscape in several locations across the city that incorporate evolving musical fragments which illuminate the surrounding environment. The piece develops as participants gather towards Lincoln Center, culminating with a live performance as the audience is welcomed inside David Geffen Hall. The premiere is paired with Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6, inspired by the composer’s profound appreciation for nature and the countryside.
To close out the season, Heyward conducts a pair of concerts during the final weekend of Summer for the City that shine a light on the transformative power of music and connection to mental health. The concerts are presented with the Jameel Arts and Health Lab in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recently designated loneliness and social isolation as a public health crisis—a concern that is artistically centered with this program. The concerts will include the world premiere of He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing by celebrated British-Guyanese composer Hannah Kendall, co-commissioned by Lincoln Center and Musikkollegium Winterthur. Anchoring the program is Symphony No. 2 by Schumann—a composer who famously used music to navigate his mental health challenges—performed as part of Heyward’s multi-summer exploration of Schumann’s four symphonies. Alongside the Symphony will be Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in A Major and Webern’s orchestration of Bach’s The Musical Offering.
Throughout the season, with the Jameel Arts and Health Lab in collaboration with the World Health Organization, an immersive Augmented Reality (AR) installation about Schumann will be on display throughout David Geffen Hall, spotlighting how he relied on the music of Bach during the period of hospitalization prior to his death. The virtual experience allows participants to learn about both composers and their backgrounds, with opportunities to explore musical offerings by Bach as well as a work Schumann composed during his hospitalization. The exhibit also includes an interactive station, giving participants the chance to virtually share a piece of art that has been a source of uplift.
A special “crowd-composed concert”, Symphony of Choice, previews the season on July 20, inviting audience members to co-create the evening’s program. Participants can vote, choosing from a menu of repertoire from the summer season, to collectively construct a unique “new symphony” conducted by Heyward.
Heyward and the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center welcome a host of exciting guest soloists throughout the summer including frequent Metropolitan Opera star mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges; soprano Sonya Headlam fresh off her New York Philharmonic debut; New York Philharmonic and Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center oboist Ryan Roberts; violinist Benjamin Beilman (Avery Fisher Career Grant 2012), featured soloist in the Avery Fisher Legacy Concert and a frequent performer with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and closing with Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic favorite Conrad Tao.
The Orchestra also welcomes three dynamic guest conductors—Carlos Miguel Prieto, music director of the North Carolina Symphony; Jeannette Sorrell of Apollo’s Fire; and Kazem Abdullah, whose most recent Lincoln Center credit saw him conducting the critically acclaimed X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X at the Metropolitan Opera.
As part of Heyward’s commitment to education, the Orchestra is embarking on a path to embed itself more deeply into the fabric of the city, through initiatives that are paving the way for the next generation of composers and musicians. A new collaboration with the New York Philharmonic launches in 2024, through their Very Young Composers (VYC) program, as two VYC students will be given the opportunity to workshop their own compositions with the Orchestra. In addition, there will be a new initiative with the New York City Public Schools’ Summer Arts Institute (SAI). Musicians from the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center will work with students through coachings and sectionals, and SAI students will attend Orchestra rehearsals and engage in talk-backs.
“We’re thrilled to embark on this next chapter as the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center,” said Laura Frautschi, Violinist, Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center & Orchestra Committee Member. “We believe the future is bright with Jonathon Heyward at the helm and are grateful for his vision and leadership. Along with my orchestra colleagues, I look forward to this season of exciting new works, repertoire classics, and education collaborations. See you this summer!”
A special focus for this chapter of the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center is providing new entry points to the unparalleled classical music and artistry happening across campus year-round. Several programs include distinct connections to Lincoln Center’s resident organizations—including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 as a prelude to The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s monumental upcoming feat performing the complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle; Stravinsky’s Pulcinella as an introduction to the upcoming Joffrey Ballet exhibit at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; and the overture to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro as a tribute to the Metropolitan Opera repertory favorite.
“I feel such gratitude to Jonathon and these musicians for their inspiring artistry and passion for this Orchestra,” said Shanta Thake, Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “I look forward to this next chapter together.”
More details about the third annual Summer for the City will be announced in the coming months.