On January 8, 2002, the New York Philharmonic announced its 2002-03 concert calendar, a 34-week subscription season during which new Music Director Lorin Maazel will take over the famed podium. Though many in the critical press were quick to voice their skepticism about the appointment of the 71-year-old Maazel, suggesting that perhaps a younger American candidate would have been a more stimulating choice, the Philharmonic’s new maestro is an American and a composer himself. At the Avery Fisher Hall press conference and luncheon, Maazel, Chairman Paul B. Guenther, and Executive Director Zarin Mehta outlined a season covering works by a wide range of composers that may dispel fears of stodginess and appease both the conservative and the adventurous.
The upcoming season includes five world premiere Philharmonic commissions, one U.S. and four New York premieres, and ten works new to the Philharmonic. Maazel will join the orchestra for eleven subscription weeks plus tours of Asia, the U.S. East Coast, and in a summer residency at Colorado’s Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. The season will launch with a gala opening night on September 18 featuring a program of Beethoven‘s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 9. The following night Maazel will lead “September 11, 2001 – In Memoriam” which will pair a world premiere commission with Beethoven’s ninth. Though details of the commission have not been officially announced, a source who spoke with Maazel says the work will likely be penned by an American composer and feature the text of an American poet.
When questioned about the need to renovate or completely bulldoze Avery Fisher Hall and start over, Maazel declined to come down on one side or the other but acknowledged that the hall has its problems. Gunther fielded questions about the Philharmonic’s financial stability in light of financial concerns at arts organizations all over the city. He reported that contributions were coming in as expected and that the organization was on firm financial footing.
Questioned about his views on programming contemporary music and the needs of the Philharmonic audience, Maazel stressed that new music would be included not for its cultural cache, but because he or a guest conductor truly believed in the work. He referenced several of the premieres scheduled for the upcoming season to underline his point.
Detail of this season’s premieres include:
World Premiere Commissions:
- TBA: New York Philharmonic September 11 Commission, Lorin Maazel, conductor
- Rodion Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer, Lorin Maazel, conductor
- Bright Sheng: Concerto for Piano, Cello, Pipa, and Chinese Wind Instruments, David Zinman, conductor
- Krzysztof Penderecki: Phaedra, Lorin Maazel, conductor
- Oliver Knussen: Symphony No. 4, Lorin Maazel, conductor
New York Premieres:
- André Previn: Violin Concerto, André Previn, conductor
- Toru Takemitsu: Ceremonial, André Previn, conductor
- Kaija Saariaho: Cháteau de l’âme, Robert Spano, conductor
- Aaron Jay Kernis: Simple Songs, Lorin Maazel, conductor
New York Philharmonic Premieres:
- William Bolcom: Ragomania, Lorin Maazel, conductor
- John Harbison: The Most Often Used Chords, David Zinman, conductor
- Leonard Bernstein: Slava! (A Political Overture), Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor
- Miklós Rózsa: Violin Concerto, Lorin Maazel, conductor
- Henri Dutilleux: Timbres, espace, mouvement, Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor
- Nino Rota: Concerto for Strings, Riccardo Muti, conductor
- Hector Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict, Sir Colin Davis, conductor
- Krzysztof Penderecki: Adagio (Symphony No. 4), Lorin Maazel, conductor
- Shostakovich: An Entr’acte from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor
In addition, the season features a number of renowned guest conductors and soloists. Principal Guest Conductor Sir Colin Davis and Kurt Masur will take the podium, as well as returning maestros Zubin Mehta, Christoph von Dohnányi, Riccardo Muti, David Robertson, and David Zinman. This season also marks the Philharmonic debuts of Sakari Oramo and Robert Spano. Pierre Laurent-Aimard, Martha Argerich, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Goode, Radu Lupu, Midori, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Maurizio Pollini, and Maxim Vengerov, among others, will join the orchestra as featured soloists, along with appearances by two of the Philharmonic’s own – Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and Principal Horn Philip Myers.
Other season highlights include a three-week festival led by Mstislav Rostropovich, a 160th birthday concert for the Philharmonic, the celebration of the 200th birthday of Berlioz, and the continuation of radio broadcasts on WQXR and two nationally televised Live From Lincoln Center performances. New this season all concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. and include pre-concert lectures or chamber music programming.