CONCERTMASTER FRANK HUANG TO LEAD NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
Concertmaster Frank Huang will lead the New York Philharmonic from his chair as Concertmaster in a program spotlighting the Orchestra’s string section. The concerts will feature Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3, with Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples as soloist; Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik; and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, and take place on Thursday, May 31, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 1 at 11:00 a.m.; Saturday, June 2 at 8:00 p.m.; Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Frank Huang made his New York Philharmonic solo debut leading the Orchestra from his violin in June 2016. “Not having a conductor gives us a little room to explore,” Mr. Huang said. “I’m always interested in finding new ways that it could work, and my colleagues, with whom I love working, may have some ideas that I haven’t thought of.”
“It’s always a great honor to stand up in front of my colleagues and play a concerto,” said Sheryl Staples. “It’s a very different experience to be the solo voice instead of being one of a very elegant, finely crafted tapestry in the Orchestra. This concerto was actually the first piece I ever played with an orchestra, when I was 12 years old. The last time I played it was when I was 20. It will be fun to revisit the piece and approach it from a different place in my life.”
Mr. Huang and Ms. Staples are stand partners as well as collaborators in the New York Philharmonic String Quartet. “What a fantastic colleague, violinist, and musician,” Mr. Huang said of Ms. Staples. “Sheryl and I got along right away when I came. We’ve become close, and I’m really excited to accompany her in this concerto.” “Frank and I work really, really well together,” Ms. Staples said. “Playing in the Quartet together has accelerated our getting to know each other on the job, musically and personally.”
The New York Philharmonic is offering an allotment of free tickets to young people ages 13–26 for the concert Friday, June 1 as part of Philharmonic Free Fridays. Philharmonic Free Fridays offers a limited number of free tickets to 13–26-year-olds to many of the 2017–18 season’s Friday subscription concerts. Information on the 2017–18 season of Free Fridays is available at nyphil.org/freefridays.
Violinist Sheryl Staples joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Associate Concertmaster, The Elizabeth G. Beinecke Chair, in September 1998 and currently serves as Acting Concertmaster, The Charles E. Culpeper Chair. She made her solo debut with the Philharmonic in 1999 performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, led by then Music Director Kurt Masur, and has since been featured in concertos by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, and Vivaldi with conductors including Jaap van Zweden, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, and Colin Davis. Most recently, she performed Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante with Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, led by Maestro van Zweden, in November 2014. She has performed as soloist with more than 40 other orchestras nationwide, including The Cleveland, Los Angeles and Louisiana Philharmonic, and San Diego and Richmond Symphony orchestras. Previously she was the associate concertmaster of The Cleveland Orchestra and concertmaster of the Pacific Symphony and Santa Barbara Chamber orchestras. An active chamber musician, Ms. Staples is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016–17 season, and frequently performs chamber music in the New York area in venues including David Geffen Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has performed chamber music for U.S. Ambassadors in London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, and Hong Kong, and in 2013 she toured Mexico, Brazil, and Chile. Ms. Staples has participated in the La Jolla, Boston, Salt Bay, Santa Fe, Mainly Mozart, and Aspen chamber music festivals. She appears on three Stereophile compact discs with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Currently she is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, working with students aspiring to orchestral careers. Ms. Staples and her husband, percussionist Barry Centanni, premiered William Kraft’s Concerto a Tre for piano, violin, and percussion (written for them, at Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society’s summer festival and recorded for release on the Albany Records label in 2008) and David Sampson’s Black River Concerto (for solo violin, percussion, and orchestra in April 2011 with the Montclair State University Symphony). Ms. Staples performs on the “Kartman” Guarneri del Gesu, ca. 1728, previously on loan from private collector Peter Mandell and now in the collection of the New York Philharmonic.
Mozart composed what would become one of his most well-known works, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, in Vienna in August 1787. Very little is known about its genesis, as there is no record of why and for whom he wrote it, or when it was premiered. Some scholars think it is possible he wrote it as a tribute to his father, Leopold, who had passed away that May. It is also possible it was privately commissioned by a paying customer — Mozart’s free-spending ways found him always in need of cash. Its original instrumentation is a bit of a mystery as well; it is unclear whether he intended it to be performed by a quartet or a chamber orchestra. Over the years, it has been orchestrated in various ways, sometimes based on a surviving 16-measure fragment for two violins, viola, and double bass, which may represent the composer’s original intent. Musicians from the New York Philharmonic first performed Eine kleine Nachtmusik in November 1906, conducted by Wassily Safonoff. It was most recently presented in July 2015 at the Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–93) composed the Serenade for Strings in the fall of 1880, at the same time that he was composing the bombastic and popular 1812 Overture. As he was working on both, he wrote to his friend and patron Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck: “The Overture will be very loud, noisy, but I wrote it without any warm feelings of love and so it will probably be of no artistic worth. But the Serenade, on the contrary, I wrote from inner compulsion. This is a piece from the heart and so, I venture to say, it does not lack artistic worth.” The work was premiered in St. Petersburg in October 1881, and Tchaikovsky’s mentor Anton Rubinstein immediately declared it to be the composer’s best work. Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony (which later merged with the New York Philharmonic) in the Serenade’s U.S. Premiere in January 1885. Kurt Masur led the Orchestra’s most recent presentation of the complete work in July 1999.
* * *
Major support for Philharmonic Free Fridays is provided by an Anonymous Donor.
Additional funding is provided by Muna and Basem Hishmeh.
* * *
Citi. Preferred Card of the New York Philharmonic.
* * *
Emirates is the Official Airline of the New York Philharmonic.
* * *
PurePoint Financial. Season Sponsor of the New York Philharmonic.
* * *
Programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts,with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
New York Philharmonic
David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
Thursday, May 31, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Frank Huang, leader
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3