December 2, 2019

NWS joins Miami City Ballet in celebrating Stravinsky and Balanchine

Cultural Champions on Feb. 1

On Saturday, February 1 at 7:30 PM, the New World Symphony and Miami City Ballet (MCB) come together for a special live-streamed WALLCAST® event celebrating Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine, two icons of the 20th century whose decades-long friendship proved to be one of the most prolific artistic pairings of their time. Led by NWS Co-Founder and Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), this performance at the New World Center will be projected live on the 7,000-sq.-ft. façade of the building and may be experienced for free in adjacent SoundScape Park. Additionally, a free live-stream is available to viewers around the world via In addition to the live-streamed WALLCAST® event, a privately ticketed, concert-hall-only performance will take place on Friday, January 31 at 7:30 PM.

The Concert

Miami City Ballet

Curated by MTT and MCB Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, who as young artists worked with Stravinsky and Balanchine respectively, the program includes Stravinsky-Balanchine’s Apollon musagète; Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, featuring violinist James Ehnes; and Stravinsky’s Circus Polka: For a Young Elephant, originally choreographed for circus elephants and ballerinas by Balanchine on commission from Ringling Bros. Circus Polka will be performed in its orchestral concert version, accompanied by immersive visuals by video artist Emily Eckstein.

Circus Polka
Stravinsky's Circus Polka, performed with Emily Eckstein's video art at the New World Center in 2012.

This performance is made possible by the generosity of the Knight Foundation, whose Vice President of Arts Victoria Rogers said:

“This is a wonderful example of collaboration between two long-term Miami institutions recognized internationally for artistic excellence and innovative approaches to their respective classical art forms. That Lourdes and MTT continue to explore new ways of making art accessible, keeping true to their training and using their personal experiences with the masters to interpret and evolve ballet and classical music, keeps things relevant and fresh. That the performance will be ‘wallcast’ free to the community and recorded for future generations extends the impact.”

From Michael Tilson Thomas 

“It was in the late 1980s that I first wandered over from the Lincoln Theatre, which was then the home of the New World Symphony, to the store front on Lincoln Road that was then the home of the Miami City Ballet. Since then I dreamed of uniting the brilliant young musicians of the New World Symphony with the extraordinary dancers in the Miami City Ballet. I’m happy that, after sharing over 30 years of residency in our city, our orchestra and the dancers are going to be on the same stage together at the New World Center. The fact that we are coming together to celebrate Stravinsky and Balanchine makes this occasion all the more special. I was very fortunate to have known and worked with Igor Stravinsky in Los Angeles during the later years of his life. I’m so pleased that the insights I gained from him will now intertwine with those that Lourdes Lopez will share with us from her work with George Balanchine. It will be a truly memorable experience.”

From Lourdes Lopez

“Balanchine famously said, ‘See the music, hear the dance,’ and together, throughout their decades of collaboration, Stravinsky and Balanchine revolutionized how we see, hear and interpret dance. I am thrilled that together, with New World Symphony, we will bring to life this very sentiment, in what will be a truly remarkable event for the entire community. It’s interesting to think that in terms of classical arts Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony are considered relatively young organizations. Since our beginnings just over 30 years ago, we’ve been able to present, at the highest caliber, some of the most influential and iconic works of music and dance to the public and I am extremely proud of our collective accomplishments. To have the world-renowned Miami City Ballet dancers perform live alongside the youthful and abundantly talented musicians of New World Symphony, is a perfect union. A union more than 30 years in the making, in which the audience will be able to share in and appreciate the astounding relationship between Stravinsky and Balanchine.”

Lasting Legacies

Stravinsky and MTT
Stravinsky with MTT, photo by Arnold Newman

Michael Tilson Thomas was a young boy when he first heard Igor Stravinsky conduct his own music, and as a teenager and young adult, he had the privilege of working with the composer in a variety of settings—from rehearsals to recording sessions. His first collaborative experience with Stravinsky came in his late teens, in rehearsals for the Huxley Variations. MTT soon began performing in Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts, which afforded him more opportunities to work with Stravinsky and become acquainted with his circle. The composer also coached MTT as he and fellow pianist Ralph Grierson made the first recording of The Rite of Spring arranged for piano four hands. These experiences have informed MTT’s approach to the music of Stravinsky throughout his career as a conductor.

Balanchine and Lourdes
Balanchine with Lourdes Lopez

Lourdes Lopez was personally invited by George Balanchine to join the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet at only 16 years of age. She was featured in countless leading roles in seminal Balanchine works, including Firebird, Serenade, Symphony in C, Agon and The Four Temperaments. She also danced and was coached by Balanchine in Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Apollon musagète, two of the three works on the upcoming program. After retiring from the stage, Ms. Lopez went on to serve as the Executive Director of the George Balanchine Foundation for four years.

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Posted in: Concerts, Events, Knight, MTT, Wallcast Concerts

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