Events & Tickets
Carnegie Hall’s NYO2 makes its anticipated return to New World Center for an exclusive one-night-only event—the orchestra’s only public performance before its finale at Carnegie Hall on August 1.
Under the baton of conductor Mei-Ann Chen, the ensemble will open its concert with a performance of Jessie Montgomery's Soul Force. Its title drawn from Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, the work blends elements of popular African-American musical styles, including big-band jazz, funk, hip-hop and R+B. Jazz pianist Aaron Diehl performs a new edition of George Gershwin’s Concerto in F—a perfect fusion of classical, popular and jazz styles. Shortly after fleeing a war-ravaged Europe for America, Rachmaninoff composed his expansive Symphonic Dances. Sprinkling in influences from his new home, he included a nostalgic solo for saxophone and a lurching waltz before its ominous finale. This tour de force would be Rachmaninoff’s final composition, himself claiming “it must have been my last spark.”
NYO2’s 2018 season and six-day residency in Miami marked the start of a new partnership between New World Symphony and Carnegie Hall, which has current and former NWS Fellows mentoring and performing side-by-side with participating NYO2 students from across the country, including many from South Florida.
Comprising a "remarkable array of talent" (The New York Times), NYO2 is an orchestral training program for talented young players ages 14–17 with a focus on recruiting musicians from communities underrepresented in classical music.
NYO2 is a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.
Approx. Duration: 8 minutes
Soul Force for Orchestra
Edited by Timothy D. Freeze
Approx. Duration: 30 minutes
Concerto in F major for Piano and Orchestra
Adagio – Andante con moto
Approx. Duration: 35 minutes
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)
Lento assai—Allegro vivace
Soul Force for Orchestra
Approximate duration: 8 minutes
Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist and educator. She is the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation’s Leonard Bernstein Award and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and her works are performed around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her work interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry and social consciousness, making her an acute interpreter of 21st century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).
Montgomery’s growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal and orchestral music. Recent highlights include Shift, Change, Turn (2019), commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Coincident Dances (2018) for the Chicago Sinfonietta; and Banner (2014)—written to mark the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—which was written for the Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation and presented in its U.K. premiere at the BBC Proms in August 2021.
Since 1999, Montgomery has been affiliated with the Sphinx Organization, which supports young African American and Latinx string players. She has served as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble.
A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and former member of Catalyst Quartet, Montgomery holds degrees from The Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a PhD candidate in music composition at Princeton University. She is professor of violin and composition at The New School. In 2021, she began her three-year appointment as Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
—Jack Sullivan, © 2022 Carnegie Hall
In the Composer’s Own Words
Soul Force is a one-movement symphonic work which attempts to portray a voice that struggles to be heard beyond the shackles of oppression. The music takes on the form of a march, which begins with a single voice and gains mass as it rises to a triumphant goal.
Drawing on elements of popular African American musical styles, such as big-band jazz, funk, hip hop and R&B, the piece pays homage to the cultural contributions—the many voices—which have risen against aggressive forces to create an indispensable cultural place.
I have drawn the work’s title from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he states, “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
Concerto in F major for Piano and Orchestra
Approximate duration: 30 minutes
George Gershwin, just 25 and already at the top of the songwriting industry, made his first real splash in the world of “serious” music with Rhapsody in Blue. Among the spectators at Gershwin’s debut performance with Paul Whiteman’s dance band was Walter Damrosch, the conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra, who was so impressed that he immediately invited Gershwin to compose a true concerto to perform with the orchestra. Gershwin himself understood that Rhapsody in Blue was insufficient to establish his classical credentials; he wrote, “Many persons had thought that the Rhapsody was only a happy accident. Well, I wanted to show that there was plenty more where that had come from. I made up my mind to do a piece of ‘absolute’ music. The Rhapsody, as its title implied, was a blues impression. The Concerto would be unrelated to any program.”
Gershwin worked on his Piano Concerto in F from July to November of 1925, and he debuted the score that December. The Concerto’s gestation was much more arduous than that of Rhapsody in Blue (which took less than a month to draft), not least because Gershwin endeavored to teach himself the art of orchestration, rather than hiring an arranger as he had for the previous score.
The Concerto in F successfully masks any discomfort its composer may have had with venturing so deep into territory staked out by the likes of Mozart and Beethoven. The opening tutti section, with its juxtaposition of bombastic timpani and syncopated dance rhythms reminiscent of “The Charleston,” establishes the duality that runs throughout the score. The piano arrives with a cadenza that teases out a slow and sultry response.
The middle movement calls out a trumpet to present the lazy melody, colored with characteristic “blue” notes and backed up by a chorus of clarinets. The piano makes its entrance on a sassy melody decorated with “crunched” notes, propelled forward by strummed chords from the strings that mimic a jazz guitar or banjo.
The brisk finale plays up the virtuosic gesture of repeated notes on the piano. Echoes of earlier music bring the work full circle, until a final barrage from the timpani sets up the swelling cadence.
For most of its performance history, orchestras have had to play the Concerto in F from scores and parts full of errors and fixes, but a new effort by the Gershwin estate and the University of Michigan is developing critical edition publications for this and all other works by George and Ira Gershwin. This performance features the new authoritative score edited by Timothy D. Freeze.
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
Approximate duration: 35 minutes
The outbreak of World War II prevented Sergei Rachmaninoff from returning to his beloved villa on Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, so he spent the summer of 1940 at an estate on Long Island. He had sworn off composing four years earlier after finishing the Third Symphony and his preparations for the upcoming concert season kept him plenty busy, but still he was compelled to compose what turned out to be his final score, the Symphonic Dances. He was inspired in part by the recent staging of a ballet set to his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, choreographed by the fellow Russian expatriate Michel Fokine (the creator of The Firebird and Petrouchka, among his signature works for the Ballets Russes). Rachmaninoff hoped Fokine would choreograph his new dance movements, and the collaboration seemed on track after a readthrough of the piano score, but nothing came of it before the choreographer’s death in 1942. Instead the work debuted on the concert stage in a performance in 1941 by Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra, to whom Rachmaninoff dedicated the score.
There is no overt program behind the Symphonic Dances, although there are hints of a backstory in Rachmaninoff’s working title of “Fantastic Dances” and an abandoned plan to label the movements Noon, Twilight and Midnight. Symphonic Dances is a fitting title in the end, with the three broad movements forming an arc of symphonic dimensions. The kinetic, dancing nature of the music conjures Tchaikovsky, one of Rachmaninoff’s formative influences from 50 years earlier. There are also nostalgic references to significant musical themes from earlier in the Rachmaninoff’s own life, including a quotation in the first movement from the ill-fated Symphony No. 1 (which was received so poorly in 1897 that it nearly ended his career) and a robust reference in the finale to the Dies irae plainchant that appears in so many Rachmaninoff scores.
The Symphonic Dances often spotlight solo voices within the orchestra, most distinctively an alto saxophone—making its only appearance in all of Rachmaninoff’s music—which delivers a haunting melody in the opening movement. The emphasis stays on woodwinds throughout the first movement, while a solo violin emerges for an extended melody in the waltzing second movement. Midway through the finale, a languid episode provides further opportunities for intimate solos. The outer sections of the finale, by contrast, employ full orchestral forces for sizzling rhythms and modal harmonies redolent of Spanish flamenco music.
– © Aaron Grad
Aaron Grad is a composer and writer based in Seattle. In addition to providing program notes for the New World Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and others, he is also the artistic director of Many Messiahs, a project that reframes Handel's masterpiece as a collective call for justice.
Lead Donors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, and Beatrice Santo Domingo.
Global Ambassadors: Michael ByungJu Kim and Kyung Ah Park, Hope and Robert F. Smith, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.
Leadership support for NYO2 is provided by Clarissa Alcock Bronfman and Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Estate of Joan Eliasoph, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Major support for NYO2 is provided by the Mercedes T. Bass Charitable Corporation, Ronald E. Blaylock and Petra Pope, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the A.E. Charitable Foundation, Clive and Anya Gillinson, the Marc Haas Foundation, Beth and Joshua Nash, Melanie and Jean E. Salata, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, and Joyce and George Wein Foundation, Inc.
Founder Patron: Beatrice Santo Domingo.
With additional funding provided by Alphadyne Foundation, Sarah Arison, Ernst & Young LLP, Stella and Robert Jones, Martha and Robert Lipp, Andrew J. Martin-Weber, Lauren and Ezra Merkin, the Morton H. Meyerson Family Foundation, Linda Wachner, David S. Winter, and Judy Francis Zankel.
Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Management for Ms. Chen and Mr. Diehl: Opus 3 Artists; 470 Park Avenue South, Ninth Floor North; New York, NY 10016
Innovation, imagination, passion and dynamism are the hallmarks of Taiwanese-American conductor Mei-Ann Chen. Music Director of the MacArthur Award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, Ms. Chen is Austria's Recreation Grosses Orchester Graz Chief Conductor, a post she was named to in fall 2021 after two seasons as the orchestra's first-ever Principal Guest Conductor (making her the first female Asian conductor to hold this position with an Austrian orchestra). Ms. Chen also has served as Artistic Director & Conductor for the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival 2016 - 2021 and as the first-ever Artistic Partner of Houston’s ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra). A sought-after guest conductor acclaimed for infusing orchestras with energy, enthusiasm, high-level music-making and galvanizing audiences and communities alike, Ms. Chen is known as a compelling communicator. She has appeared with distinguished orchestras throughout the Americas, Europe, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, and continues to expand her relationships with orchestras worldwide (over 110 orchestras to date). Recent highlights include debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Austria's Tonkünstler in Vienna's Musikverein and engagements with Finland's Helsinki Philahrmonic, Ireland's Ulster Orchestra, Sweden's Norrlandsosper, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Taiwan Philharmonic. Ms. Chen also served on the jury for the prestigious Malko Competition in 2021. Honors and awards include being named one of Musical America’s 2015 Top 30 Influencers; 2012 Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras; winner, 2007 Taki Concordia Fellowship founded by Marin Alsop; 2005 First Prize Winner of the Malko Competition (first woman to win in the history of the competition) and ASCAP awards for innovative programming.
Pianist and composer Aaron Diehl mystifies listeners with his layered artistry. At once temporal and ethereal, his expression transforms the piano into an orchestral vessel in the spirit of beloved predecessors Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner and Jelly Roll Morton. Following three critically-acclaimed leader albums on Mack Avenue Records — and live appearances at historic venues from Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Village Vanguard to New York Philharmonic and the Philharmonie de Paris — the American Pianist Association’s 2011 Cole Porter fellow now focuses his attention on what it means to be present within himself. His forthcoming solo record promises an expansion of that exploration in a setting at once unbound and intimate.
Mr. Diehl conjures three-dimensional expansion of melody, counterpoint and movement through time. Rather than choose one sound or another, he invites listeners into the chambered whole of his artistry. Born in Columbus, Ohio, he traveled to New York in 2003, following his success as a finalist in JALC’s Essentially Ellington competition and a subsequent European tour with Wynton Marsalis. His love affair with rub and tension prompted a years-long immersion in distinctive repertoire from Monk and Ravel to Gershwin and William Grant Still. Among other towering figures, Still in particular inspires Mr. Diehl’s ongoing curation of Black American composers in his own performance programming, unveiled this past fall at 92nd St. Y.
Mr. Diehl has enjoyed artistic associations with Wynton Marsalis, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Buster Williams, Branford Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Philip Glass and multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Cecile McLorin Salvant. He recently appeared with the New York Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra as featured soloist.
Mr. Diehl holds a bachelor of music degree in jazz studies from The Juilliard School. A licensed pilot, when he’s not at the studio or on the road, he’s likely in the air. Follow both his earthbound and aerial exploits via Instagram at @aaronjdiehl.
2022 NYO2 Members
+ Robert Aguila, Miami, FL
Antonio Avilés Figueroa, Toa Baja, PR
Sarah Biesack, Melbourne, FL
+ Ayi Ekhaese, Sugar Land, TX
Kai Freeman, Haddonfield, NJ
Brandon Garza, San Antonio, TX
Loren Gigi, San Francisco, CA
+ Airi Ito, Elk Grove Village, IL
+ Kaitlyn Kaminuma, Chelmsford, MA
Lisa Kazami, Hoffman Estates, IL
Ashley Kim, Anchorage, AK
Christy Kim, Mason, OH
Hanah Kim, Harker Heights, TX
+ Jaden Minjae Kim, Irvine, CA
Kate Sunny Kim, Marietta, GA
Olivia Oh, Fort Lee, NJ
Jaehyun Park, Oakland Gardens, NY
Sean Qin, Short Hills, NJ
Angelina Santana-Herrera, Miami, FL
Sydney Schneider, Birmingham, AL
Krystal Sun, Closter, NJ
Virgilio Vázquez Vázquez, Guaynabo, PR
Kyle Yang, Diamond Bar, CA
Nicholas Yoo, Ramsey, NJ
◊ Branden Cabrera, Miami, FL
Ian Chen, Plano, TX
Luke D'Silva, Portland, OR
Cuewon Kim, Vestavia Hills, AL
Juhee Kim, Palisades Park, NJ
+ Michelle Koo, Palo Alto, CA
+ T'Yara Lesueur, San Diego, CA
+ Audrey Lim, Reno, NV
Spencer Quarles, Los Angeles, CA
John David Sharp II, Lowell, AR
+ Sophie Deng, Stillwater, OK
Huisun Hong, Pleasanton, CA
Natalie Kwok, Fullerton, CA
Celina Lim, Honolulu, HI
Carlos Morales, San Diego, CA
Daniel Yim, San Jose, CA
+ Daniel Yoon, San Jose, CA
Jiin Yun, Irvine, CA
+ Anderson Bernal, Potomac, MD
Ella Marchetti, Tampa, FL
Tendekai Mawokomatanda, Atlanta, GA
Eleanor Ohm, Bethesda, MD
Nathan Puopolo, Fresno, CA
Simon Vazquez-Carr, Durham, NC
+ Bianca Wilson, Annapolis, MD
Julin Cheung, Philadelphia, PA
Sadie Goodman, South Salem, NY
Parv Gosai, Ashburn, VA
Hannah Cho, Tustin, CA
Alyson Goodwin, Hoover, AL
David Kwon, Diamond Bar, CA
Tiffany Chang, Ridgewood, NJ
Santiago Del Curto, Queens, NY
Barak Dosunmu, Moorestown, NJ
Caden Helmer, Blue Springs, MO
Jackson Bernal, Potomac, MD
Adam Tang, Exeter, NH
Cassandra Valenti, Las Vegas, NV
Paxson Amy, Conway, AR
Neha Bharadwaj, Irving, TX
Seth Corlew, Jacksonville, FL
Hayden Joyce, Middlebury, IN
Ryan Mash, Durham, NC
Diogo Muggiati-Feldman, New York, NY
Mia Nardi, McKinney, TX
Rafael E. Rodriguez Matos, Bayamón, PR
Jack Shimon, Colorado Springs, CO
Edwin Osorio, Ann Arbor, MI
TJ Shistle, Jacksonville, FL
Calleigh Riordan, Dyer, IN
Michael Toben, Sioux City, IA
Timpani and Percussion
Charles “C.J.” Butera, Missouri City, TX
Sophia Luong, Des Plaines, IL
+ Kevin Reyes Vega, Chicago, IL
Sam Woolsey, Blacksburg, VA
Jonathan Yuen, Fremont, CA
Sophia Jho, Pittsburgh, PA
+ Prior NYO2 member
◊ Member of NWS’s 2021 Side-by-Side Ensemble
NWS Fellows and Alumni - 2022 NYO2
Francisco Joubert Bernard, Second Bassoon, Louisville Orchestra
Anthony Prisk, Second Trumpet, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Jacob Nissly, Principal Percussion, San Francisco Symphony