|Photos: courtesy of OSL|
|(September 2022)—Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) – “one of the most versatile and galvanic ensembles in the U.S.” (WQXR) – gives nine performances at Carnegie Hall in 2022-23, with a series in each of the venue’s three performance spaces. In the Stern Auditorium the orchestra performs an all-Mendelssohn concert featuring actor David Hyde Pierce in his Carnegie debut and British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, led by Harry Bicket; a concert of Mozart and Schubert with pianist Emanuel Ax; and an all-Handel program featuring La Chapelle de Québec, along with soloists Joélle Harvey, Iestyn Davies and Matthew Brook. Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie conducts the latter two performances. The concerts in OSL’s Chamber Music Series – featuring music by women composers, with one pair of concerts featuring guest pianist Marc-André Hamelin – are each performed twice, in Merkin Hall and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall; and the annual OSL Bach Festival comprises three performances in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, with pianist Jeremy Denk and countertenor Hugh Cutting as special guests. The new “Visionary Sounds” series, spotlighting contemporary artists in the intimate Cary Hall at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, features music by composer Anna Clyne, whose music is also featured in OSL’s Chamber Music Series and who has been renewed as Composer Mentor for OSL’s DeGaetano Composition Institute through 2025. The other two “Visionary Sounds” concerts spotlight Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove and the minimalist, improvisatory music of Julius Eastman. Eleven women composers and creators are featured throughout the season. OSL continues its longstanding collaboration with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, performing live on every program during their two-week Lincoln Center Season, as well as being featured in Artistic Director Michael Novak‘s new “Moving Music” series, when the orchestra pit at the David H. Koch Theater rises to spotlight OSL’s musicians.|
James Roe, OSL’s President and Executive Director, elaborates:
|“Orchestra of St. Luke’s first full season of programming since the pandemic shows the strength of our commitment to enlivening our city with classical music. Our 2022-23 season features diverse genres from full symphony orchestra to chamber music; from modern dance to choral masterpieces; from school concerts to world premieres. Major multi-disciplinary collaborators include actor David Hyde Pierce, poet Rita Dove, artist and filmmaker Jyll Bradley, and Paul Taylor Dance Company.|
“Leading international proponent of eighteenth-century repertoire Bernard Labadie begins his second term as Principal Conductor with inspiring performances of Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Schubert. The 2022-23 season features the work of women composers and creators, including world premieres and significant historical works. OSL launches two new initiatives this season: ‘Visionary Sounds’ is a new multi-disciplinary series at our home, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, spotlighting work of contemporary artists, and ‘Moving Music’ will feature OSL on stage during the Paul Taylor Dance season at Lincoln Center. Minimalism, another season theme, is represented by performances of Julius Eastman, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich.
“We invite audiences to a year-long banquet of diverse entertainment unlike anything else available in New York City.”
|With performances in fifteen separate New York City venues this season, OSL more than earns its reputation as New York’s “hometown band” (New York Times). As Opera News said after a performance of the St. Matthew Passion this past spring:|
|“The OSL is in part an assemblage of chamber-music players, a quality that came through in the small-ensemble passages with which the work abounds. But it is also a top-notch orchestra, and its playing in massed passages was marked by unity of ensemble and transparent textures.”|
|OSL at Carnegie Hall|
|Bernard Labadie, whose contract as OSL’s Principal Conductor was recently extended through the orchestra’s 50th anniversary season in 2023-24, leads OSL in two of three programs on the mainstage at Carnegie Hall this season. Labadie regretfully had to withdraw from the Mendelssohn performance in November due to planned recovery from surgery, so it will be conducted by Harry Bicket, Artistic Director of the internationally renowned chamber orchestra The English Concert and Music Director of the Santa Fe Opera. Labadie also conducts two of the three programs in the OSL Bach Festival, presented in association with Carnegie Hall.|
In November, Bicket leads OSL as the orchestra continues a multi-season focus on the works of Felix Mendelssohn. The program features Mendelssohn’s complete incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with narration by Tony- and four-time Emmy-winning actor David Hyde Pierce in his Carnegie Hall debut and vocal parts sung by soprano Elena Villalón and mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall. The program opens with his Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, about whom the New York Times raves: “He commands the stage with aristocratic ease. … Mr. Grosvenor makes you sigh with joy … A temperament rare in yesteryear, let alone now” (Nov 17).
In February, Labadie and OSL return to Carnegie Hall with pianist Emanuel Ax – praised by the Houston Chronicle for his “fleet, seemingly effortless, un-showy virtuosity” and “unpretentious, masterful way with Mozart” – to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18. The program culminates with Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, “The Great” (Feb 9).
For OSL’s April performance at Carnegie Hall, Labadie leads an all-Handel program with La Chapelle de Québec, of which he is the Founding Conductor, and soprano Joélle Harvey, countertenor Iestyn Davies, and bass-baritone Matthew Brook as soloists. The royal-themed program comprises Handel’s four coronation anthems composed for King George II; his Music for the Royal Fireworks, composed under contract for the same monarch to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; and his Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (April 13).
|OSL Bach Festival in association with Carnegie Hall (June 6–20)|
|In June 2023, OSL returns to Carnegie’s Zankel Hall to celebrate J.S. Bach’s musical legacy with its annual OSL Bach Festival. The first program features pianist Jeremy Denk, “an artist you want to hear no matter what he performs” (New York Times), playing and directing six of Bach’s keyboard concertos (June 6).|
Labadie, renowned worldwide for his interpretations of eighteenth-century repertoire, leads the other two programs. His leadership of the St. Matthew Passion last spring was met with unanimous acclaim: the New York Times declared that under his baton “the music was unwaveringly measured but balanced; its flashes of grandeur didn’t need to be overstated to land powerfully.”
“Suites and Concertos” comprises violin concertos and orchestral suites in the French Baroque style, showcasing the intricate brilliance of Bach’s purely instrumental music (June 13).
The festival closes with a program of vocal virtuosity, titled “The Baroque Voice.” Countertenor Hugh Cutting, a rising international star who made his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut in OSL’s St. Matthew Passion last season, returns as featured artist, singing Bach’s fervent and dramatic Cantata 170 and virtuoso opera arias by George Frideric Handel that showcase Cutting’s dazzling voice (June 20).
|Anna Clyne collaboration and DeGaetano Composition Institute|
|Orchestra of St. Luke’s announces the extension and expansion of its ongoing collaboration with Anna Clyne, one of the leading composers of our time. Described as a “composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods” (New York Times), Clyne will be involved with three of OSL’s signature initiatives: “Visionary Sounds,” the Chamber Music Series, and the DeGaetano Composition Institute.|
OSL has renewed Clyne’s role as Composer Mentor of its annual DeGaetano Composition Institute – which commissions and premieres new orchestral works from exceptional emerging composers each year – through 2025. Participants receive personalized mentorship, tailored professional guidance, and creative opportunities over the course of seven months, culminating in a week-long residency in New York City and a world premiere performance by OSL. Named for the late pianist and composer Robert DeGaetano (1946–2015), the DeGaetano Composition Institute was founded in 2019 with a visionary gift from the composer’s estate.
The culmination of the 2023 Institute will be a concert of world premieres by Institute composers on July 25, 2023, at OSL’s home, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music. The composers will base their compositions on poetry by a living poet, and this season’s three commissioned world premieres bring the total to eleven new works for orchestra since the Institute’s founding. Clyne says:
|“I am delighted to continue my role as a mentor for three exceptional composers as they develop their skills for orchestral writing as part of the DeGaetano Composition Institute. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to develop their craft in collaboration with OSL musicians and to receive career advice from industry professionals through a series of workshops and masterclasses during a summer residency in New York City in summer 2023. At the heart of this new Institute is a commitment to developing the orchestral repertoire over two decades.”|
|The three composers participating in the 2023 DeGaetano Composition Institute are: Carlos Bandera, Tommy Dougherty, and Molly Herron.|
Clyne is one of eleven women and non-binary composers and creators featured in OSL’s programming this season, including poet Rita Dove, visual artist and filmmaker Jyll Bradley, and composers inti figgis-vizueta, Gabriela Lena Frank, Molly Herron, Tania León, Keyla Orozco, and Caroline Shaw, as well as Florence Price and Fanny Mendelssohn.
|“Visionary Sounds” at DiMenna Center|
|In 2022-23, OSL launches “Visionary Sounds,” a new, inter-disciplinary series at The DiMenna Center that spotlights twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists. Each concert’s program focuses on one artist while including a wide variety of related visual art, literature, music, and more.|
The first program of the season features Pulitzer Prize-winning former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove reading selections from Sonata Mulattica, her book-length narrative poem about 19th-century Afro-European violin prodigy George Bridgetower, the first performer and original dedicatee of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata. The sonata itself will be performed by violinist Jesse Mills and pianist Rieko Aizawa (Nov 29).
The second “Visionary Sounds” program is dedicated Anna Clyne’s chamber works, which are accompanied by films from cutting-edge visual artists Josh Dorman – who constructs “fantasy lands and visual puns with the wonky, romantic intensity of a daydreaming ten-year-old” (New Yorker) – and Jyll Bradley, whose work often pairs organic and industrial materials, reflecting a desire to bring together different aspects of self. Also on the program will be selections from Bach’s Art of the Fugue and Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint (March 16).
Last season’s digital “Sounds and Stories” series featured an account of Femenine, an improvisatory tour de force by the late Julius Eastman, who strove to be “Black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, [and] a homosexual to the fullest,” and whose take on minimalism was “idiosyncratic and perhaps ahead of its time” (New York Times). Celebrating Pride Month and queer artistry, the last “Visionary Sounds” performance of the season features Eastman’s Gay Guerilla and Stay On It (June 22).
|Chamber Music Series|
|OSL’s Chamber Music Series hearkens back to the ensemble’s roots in 1974, when it was formed by a group of virtuosic chamber musicians performing in Greenwich Village. This season, the series highlights music by women, and each program will be performed twice, first at Merkin Hall and then in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. The series opens with two works commissioned by OSL from Anna Clyne, a short film score called Woman Holding a Balance and Strange Loops for clarinet and strings, written for OSL Principal Clarinetist and Ensemble Member Jon Manasse. This first program closes with Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat (Oct 18 & 19).|
The second set in the series pairs piano quintets by Florence Price and Johannes Brahms. Price, the first Black woman to have a work performed by a major American orchestra, has received sustained attention by OSL since 2018, including the Carnegie Hall premiere of her String Quartet in the 2021-22 season. Price’s Piano Quintet in A minor – heard for the first time at Carnegie Hall in this performance, as far as is known – is paired with Brahms’s F minor contribution to the same genre, with the piano part in both quintets performed by guest pianist Marc-André Hamelin (Feb 28 & March 1).
Finally, in keeping with both the OSL’s multi-season focus on the works of Felix Mendelssohn and the Chamber Series focus on women composers, the third concert in the series highlights the works of both Mendelssohn and his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn. Her Piano Trio in D minor – again, in its first known Carnegie Hall performance – is heard alongside her brother’s Piano Sextet in D, and the program is rounded out with songs by both composers. Guest performers are pianist David Fung and soprano Liv Redpath, an audience favorite who made her debut with OSL during last season’s Chamber Music Series (May 2 & 3).
|Paul Taylor Dance Company Performances and “Moving Music”|
|OSL’s longstanding relationship with the Paul Taylor Dance Company (PTDC) expands this season through the new “Moving Music” series. The second act in each of the three unique programs, Menagerie Matinee, American Rhapsody, and ICONS: Taylor, Glass, Jooss, will be devoted exclusively to music, bringing OSL and its world-class musicians to the fore to perform masterful music under the direction of the new Taylor Music Director, David LaMarche. Works include Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Philip Glass’s Suite from The Hours. In addition to these features, OSL performs live on every program as the company returns to the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for its highly-anticipated New York City season of world premieres and Taylor masterworks (Nov 1–13).|
|Education and Community Engagement Concert Series|
|Each season, OSL travels to all five New York City boroughs with its free Five Borough Tour, representing the orchestra’s longstanding commitment to offering accessible performances to the New York City community. This season’s program, Viajes y Raíces (Journeys and Origins), is an intimate reflection on memory, place, and identity that features the music of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León alongside two formidable composers from her creative community: inti figgis-vizueta and Keyla Orozco. Paying homage to a wide variety of traditions, the concert program comprises a series of string quartets, illuminating how each composer reflects on their own origins and explorations through their distinct musical language (March 2–12).|
Twice a year, OSL invites New York City’s public-school students to attend Free School Concerts, outstanding classical music performances designed especially for young people. These OSL concerts reach more than 10,000 children annually, and for many it is their first live orchestral experience. For the winter program, conductor Tito Muñoz leads the orchestra in a double bill of children’s story adaptations, including Sergei Prokofiev’s masterpiece Peter and the Wolf and Caroline Shaw’s beautiful The Mountain that Loved a Bird, with narration by stage and screen star Frankie J. Alvarez (Dec 7–9).
In the spring, the School Concerts celebrate composer Gabriela Lena Frank, currently serving as Composer-in-Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra and included in the Washington Post‘s 2017 list of the 35 most significant women composers in history. During this interactive performance, students will learn about Frank’s multicultural heritage and musical inspiration. Hosted by writer, musician, and performance artist Aya Aziz and led by Charleston Symphony Associate Conductor Kellen Gray, the program highlights Frank’s belief in the power of music as a vehicle for civic engagement (May 9–11).
|DiMenna Center Benefit and other performances|
|The annual DiMenna Center benefit features host Susan Graham and special guest Renée Fleming, who join OSL for an intimate afternoon of song and conversation to celebrate its education and community programs, which have been a central pillar of the orchestra’s mission since its founding (Oct 23).|
On April 24 at New York’s Plaza Hotel, OSL’s annual Gift of Music Gala, hosted by David Hyde Pierce, recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the world of music. The event includes cocktails, dinner, an OSL concert, and dancing.
OSL gives two performances this season at Temple Emanu-El’s Streicker Center: a concert entitled “Greatest Hits” comprising beloved staples of the repertoire by Vivaldi, Bach and Mendelssohn (Dec 5); and “Violins of Hope,” memorializing those who were lost during the darkest days of the Jewish people with a collection of Holocaust-related string instruments (Jan 27). At Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, OSL joins MasterVoices under the direction of Ted Sperling for a semi-staged production of Bizet’s Carmen, sung in an English translation by Broadway legend Sheldon Harnick (Oct 25). Finally, the orchestra joins The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue under the baton of Jeremy Filsell for a program titled “American Lamentations,” with Trevor Weston’s composition by the same name sharing the bill with music of Barber, Rorem and Copland (May 16).
|About Orchestra of St. Luke’s|
|Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) grew from a group of virtuoso musicians performing chamber music concerts at Greenwich Village’s Church of St. Luke in the Fields in 1974. Regular seasons see OSL perform in diverse musical genres at New York’s major concert venues, drawing on an expanded roster for large-scale works, and collaborating with artists ranging from Joshua Bell and Renée Fleming to Bono and Metallica. The orchestra has commissioned more than 60 new works and has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres, while also participating in 118 recordings, four of which have been recognized with Grammy Awards. Internationally celebrated for his expertise in 18th-century music, Bernard Labadie was appointed as OSL’s Principal Conductor in 2018, continuing the orchestra’s long tradition of working with proponents of historical performance practice. Built and operated by OSL, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music opened in 2011. New York City’s only rehearsal, recording, education and performance space expressly dedicated to classical music, it serves more than 500 ensembles and 30,000 musicians each year.|