New York Philharmonic and New World Records Announce Recording Contract

New York Philharmonic Executive Director Zarin Mehta announced today that the orchestra has negotiated an agreement with New World Records to issue two CD recordings per year of live performances of contemporary American repertoire. The first CD, which will be released in May 2006, will include two recent Philharmonic commissions led by the orchestra’s current music director, Lorin Maazel—Stephen Hartke’s Symphony No. 3 (2003), featuring the Hilliard Ensemble, and Augusta Read Thomas’s Gathering Paradise (2004), featuring soprano Heidi Grant Murphy—as well as Summer Lightning, a 1991 work composed by a former Philharmonic composer-in-residence Jacob Druckman (1928-1996) with which Maazel opened the 2003-04 season.

The news, which was unveiled this afternoon in the Grand Promenade of Avery Fisher Hall, was half of a two-part future recording plan addendum to the Philharmonic’s 2006-07 season announcement. The other component will be another per-year collaboration with Universal Classics to release live performance recordings of more standard fare in the form of one traditional CD plus four downloads offering complete concert programs on a variety of as-yet-unannounced websites to be determined by Universal. Zarin Mehta, quoting today’s New York Times announcement that 12 percent of all downloads this past year were classical music, seemed hopeful that these initiatives, which were the result of negotiating a revenue-sharing model with the members of the orchestra, could portend a new era for classical orchestral recordings in this country.

New World Records President Herman Krawitz, who was present for the announcement, also expressed hope that this long-sought-for arrangement would give listeners all over the world a greater opportunity to hear important recent American orchestral compositions.

Also announced as part of the 2006-07 was the planned world premiere of Melinda Wagner’s Trombone Concerto, a Philharmonic commission, which Joseph Alessi will perform with the orchestra on February 22, 23, and 24, 2007. Other American repertoire performed by the New York Philharmonic in the 2006-07 season includes: Aaron Copland’s El Salon Mexico and Christopher Rouse’s Symphony No. 2 led by Bramwell Tovey in a concert pitting the Philharmonic against the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, who will also play selections from the Ellington/Strayhorn arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (December 6-9, 2006); and four semi-staged performances of Stephen Sondheim’s Company conducted by Paul Gemignani (March 7-10, 2007).