Events & Tickets
Webcast: Montero’s Latin Concerto
Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 7:30 PM ET
- Xian Zhang, conductor
- Matthias Pintscher, conductor
- Gabriela Montero, piano
- Ben Fryxell, Cello Fellow
THIS IS AN ONLINE CONCERT, AVAILABLE FOR 72 HOURS. NWS Insiders receive this concert as part of their digital membership and do not need to purchase the concert stream separately.
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Latin Grammy Award-winning pianist-composer Gabriela Montero pays homage to the inextinguishable spirit of the people of Latin America with her own Concerto, illuminating the vibrant and complex cultures of the region’s nations. German conductor Matthias Pintscher presents music by his native land’s composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. As an operatic master, Zimmermann lets the cello sing in his Song of Hope, performed by NWS’s own Cello Fellow Ben Fryxell, a winner of NWS’s Concerto Competition.
This is a pre-recorded concert with original footage captured at the New World Center on January 14 and April 2, 2022.
Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Approx. Duration: 17 minutes
Canto di Speranza (Song of Hope): Cantata for Cello and Orchestra
(1952; revised 1957)
Approx. Duration: 30 minutes
Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, “Latin”
Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Canto di Speranza (Song of Hope): Cantata for Cello and Orchestra
(1952; revised 1957)
Approximate duration: 17 minutes
In 1948, after completing his studies in Cologne, Bernd Alois Zimmermann attended the third annual summer courses in Darmstadt, Germany, a growing hotbed of avant-garde style. Zimmerman was a bit older than the biggest stars who emerged from that scene, including Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and unlike those fierce idealogues, Zimmerman took a more nuanced view of serial composition and the dissolution of Classical-Romantic style.
The single-movement cello concerto that Zimmerman composed between 1953 and 1957 shows off this approach that applied new combinations of pitches to the established concerto discourse of a soloist playing off an orchestra. This “Song of Hope” is not exactly filled with sunshine, but its emotional honesty and vulnerability are their own forms of hope, as told by a fatalistic witness to one of history’s darkest chapters—a man who would end up taking his own life.
Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, “Latin”
Approximate duration: 30 minutes
The following is taken from the liner notes that composer and pianist Gabriela Montero wrote for her recording of the Piano Concerto No. 1, “Latin,” released in 2019 by Orchid Classics. She gave the first performance of the work in 2016 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
The following is a note by Gabriela Montero:
My story is a modern one, in many ways. I was born and raised in Venezuela until the age of eight, at which point my family moved with me to the United States for a decade. I landed at the Royal Academy of Music in London in my early 20s. I am a globalized, Latin-American woman raised on a diet of European classical music with multiple, circumstantial side-dishes of Pan-American folklore.
I also consider myself to be a musician whose primary role is to tell stories that reflect the wide gamut of human experience across both time and geography. Every era and continent has its story to tell, however joyful or troubling, from Renaissance Europe to the contemporary Americas, and composers are well positioned not only to tell it, but to provide a unique form of social commentary.
The piano is my chosen instrument as a performer, but not my only narrative tool as a composer and communicator. It should come as no surprise, then, that my first concerto should be written for the piano as solo instrument, and that it should employ traditional, European musical structures to tell my contemporary story as a well-travelled Latin-American woman.
In a process of musical osmosis—a natural consequence of the globalized, interconnected world in which we now live—my Piano Concerto No. 1, the “Latin” Concerto, honors the musical traditions that have shaped me, while inviting the cultural idioms of my native continent to the concert halls of Europe and the wider world. European formalism and the informality of Latin-America’s rich, rhythmical identity merge in a complementary dance of both the joyful and macabre.
Writing my Concerto, I set out to describe the complex and often contradictory character of Latin America, from the rhythmically exuberant to the forebodingly demonic. Unlike my previous work for piano and orchestra—the specifically Venezuelan polemic Ex Patria (2011), a musical portrait of a country in collapse—the “Latin” Concerto draws upon the spirit of the broader South American continent. For every suggestion of surface celebration in the first-movement Mambo, for instance, there are undercurrents of disruption. The third-movement Allegro Venezolano, which cites the well-known Venezuelan Pajarillo, is interrupted at times by the dark arts of black magic, a symbolic reminder of the malevolent forces that, too often, hold our continent hostage to tyranny in its multiple guises.
– Gabriela Montero
– © 2022 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 George Frideric Handel's masterpiece as a collective call for justice.
Xian Zhang, conductor
Xian Zhang currently serves as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony and will become the Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony in 2020. She also holds the post of Conductor Emeritus of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following a hugely successful period from 2009-2016 as Music Director. She has previously served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, becoming the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra.
The acclaim Ms. Zhang has been receiving for her work in New Jersey has resulted in a strong North American career, with upcoming engagements in Chicago, Dallas, Baltimore, Montreal, Ottawa (NAC), Cincinnati, Houston and Minnesota. In August 2019 she returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic to conduct the world premiere of a work by Caroline Shaw and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Ms. Zhang’s 2019-20 European engagements include London (with both the Philharmonia in Mahler’s The Song of the Earth, and the English Chamber Orchestra in a program of Thomas Adès, Richard Strauss and Ravel), Paris (in the Philharmonie with Orchestre National de Lyon in Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as part of La Folle Journée festival in Nantes), and Belgium (returning to work with the National Orchestra of Belgium). She will also make her debut with MDR Leipzig.
Ms. Zhang’s previous opera engagements include Nabucco with Welsh National Opera, Otello at Savonlinna Festival, La traviata for Den Norske Opera (Oslo), La bohème for English National Opera and The Force of Destiny with Washington National Opera. She will lead a production of Rigoletto for the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in July 2020. She will make her debut with Santa Fe Opera in August 2020.
In 2002 Ms. Zhang won first prize in the Maazel-Vilar Conductor's Competition. She was appointed as the New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, subsequently becoming their Associate Conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
The 2022-23 season is Matthias Pintscher’s final season as Music Director of the Ensemble intercontemporain (EI), the world’s foremost contemporary music ensemble, founded in 1980 by Pierre Boulez and winner of the 2022 Polar Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in music.
In his most successful decade-long artistic leadership of EIC, he continued and expanded the cultivation of new work by emerging composers of the 21st century, alongside performances of iconic works by the pillars of the avant-garde of the 20th Century. In this, his valedictory season, Mr. Pintscher has a robust season of concerts in Paris including collaborations with the Conservatoire de Paris and IRCAM, operas-in-concert and tours throughout Europe and the United States, including performances in Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
As a conductor, Mr. Pintscher enjoys and maintains relationships with several of the world’s most distinguished orchestras, among them the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony. He is also Creative Partner for the Cincinnati Symphony. As guest conductor in Europe, he makes debut appearances this season with the Wiener Symphoniker and Gurzenich Orchester of Cologne, and returns to the Royal Concertgebouw, BRSO, BBC Scottish SO, Barcelona Symphony and Berlin’s Boulez Ensemble. In North America, he will make prominent debuts with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kansas City Symphony, in addition to regular visits to Cincinnati Symphony, and repeat guest engagements with
the Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony. Mr. Pintscher has also conducted several opera productions for the Berliner Staatsoper (Beat Furrer’s Violetter Schnee, Wagner’s Lohengrin), Wiener Staatsoper (Olga Neuwirth’s Orlando) and the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. He returns to the Berliner Staatsoper in 2023 for Der Fliegende Holländer.
Mr. Pintscher is well known as a composer, and his works appear frequently on the programs of major symphony orchestras throughout the world. In 2021 he was the focus of the Suntory Hall Summer Festival—a weeklong celebration of his works with the Tokyo Symphony, as well as a residency by the EIC with symphonic and chamber music performances. His third violin concerto, Assonanza, written for Leila Josefowicz, was premiered in January 2022 with the Cincinnati Symphony. Another 2021-22 world premiere was neharot, a co-commission of Suntory Hall, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Staatskapelle Dresden, where he was named Capell-Compositeur. In the 2016-17 season, he was the inaugural composer-in-residence of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, and from 2014 to 2017, he was artist-in-residence at the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Pintscher began his musical training in conducting, studying with Pierre Boulez and Péter Eötvös in his early twenties, when composing soon took a more prominent role in his life. He rapidly gained critical acclaim in both areas of activity and continues to compose in addition to his conducting career. A prolific composer, Mr. Pintscher's music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, orchestras and conductors. His works have been performed by such orchestras as the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris, among many others. He is published exclusively by Barenreiter, and recordings of his works can be found on Kairos, EMI, Teldec, Wergo, and Winter & Winter.
Gabriela Montero, piano
Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique improvisational gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Anthony Tommasini remarked in The New York Times that her “playing had everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power…soulful lyricism…unsentimental expressivity.”
A graduate and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Ms. Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras to date, including the Royal Liverpool, Rotterdam and Oslo philharmonic orchestras; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Australian Chamber Orchestra; the Pittsburgh, Houston, Toronto, City of Birmingham, Barcelona, Lucerne and Sydney symphony orchestras; The Cleveland Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada and orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin.
Ms. Montero is an award-winning and bestselling recording artist. Her most recent album, released in 2015 on the Orchid Classics label, features Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and her first orchestral composition, Ex Patria, and won Ms. Montero her first Latin Grammy Award for Best Classical Album (Mejor Álbum de Música Clásica). Previous recordings include Bach and Beyond, which held the top spot on the Billboard Classical Charts for several months and garnered her two Echo Klassik Awards: the 2006 Keyboard Instrumentalist of the Year and 2007 Award for Classical without Borders. In 2008 she also received a Grammy Award nomination for her album Baroque, and in 2010 released Solatino, a recording inspired by her Venezuelan homeland and devoted to works by Latin American composers.
Ms. Montero made her formal debut as a composer with Ex Patria, a tone poem designed to illustrate and protest Venezuela’s descent into lawlessness, corruption and violence. The piece was premiered in 2011 by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Her first full-length composition, Piano Concerto No. 1, “Latin,“ was first performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with the MDR Symphony Orchestra and conductor Kristjan Järvi. She gave subsequent performances of the work at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr and on tour with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico and Carlos Miguel Prieto.
A committed advocate for human rights, whose voice regularly reaches beyond the concert hall, Ms. Montero was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015, and recognized with Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation for her ongoing commitment to human rights advocacy in Venezuela. She was invited to participate in the 2013 Women of the World Festival at London’s Southbank Centre and has spoken and performed twice at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She was also awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contribution to the arts and was a featured performer at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration.
Born in Venezuela, Ms. Montero gave her first public performance at the age of five. At age eight she made her concerto debut in her hometown of Caracas, which led to a scholarship from the government to study privately in the U.S. and then at the Royal Academy of Music London with Hamish Milne. She currently resides in Barcelona with her husband and two daughters.
Ben Fryxell, Cello Fellow
Ben Fryxell is a cellist from Cincinnati and a second-year Fellow at the New World Symphony. Since his teenage years, he has been a regular presence on the concert stage. He has performed as a soloist with the Kentucky Symphony, Blue Ash-Montgomery Symphony, and the combined forces of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as many others.
Mr. Fryxell is passionate about music from all eras, but especially enjoys studying Baroque music and its cultural influences, as well as current trends in concert music. He received his master of music degree from the New England Conservatory in 2019, where he studied with Yeesun Kim, and his bachelor of music degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Natasha Brofsky. He has also studied with Alice Ann O’Neill and Alan Rafferty, and has studied chamber music with members of the Juilliard, Borromeo and Emerson string quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Norman Fischer and countless others.
During his time with the New World Symphony, Mr. Fryxell hopes to not only hone his orchestral playing skills, but also to tap into his innate entrepreneurial spirit to find creative ways to bring music to the public. When he is not at the cello, he enjoys composing, watching stand-up comedy and studying languages.