ALAN GILBERT To Conduct
Ensemble of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI in Works by Unsuk Chin, Gérard Grisey, Alexandre Lunsqui, Marc-André Dalbavie, Dai Fujikura, and John Zorn
Alongside Ligeti Concertos with Soloists Conor Hanick and Jay Campbell
June 3–5, 2016, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Alan Gilbert will conduct the Ensemble of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Ligeti Forward, three programs exploring György Ligeti (Hungary, 1923–2006) as a fountainhead of modern music through three of his concertos — the Piano Concerto, performed by Conor Hanick; Cello Concerto, performed by Jay Campbell; and Violin Concerto (violinist to be announced at a later date) — alongside works by his students Unsuk Chin (South Korea, b. 1961) and Gérard Grisey (France, 1946–1998), as well as works by Alexandre Lunsqui (Brazil, b. 1969, now a U.S. resident), Marc-André Dalbavie (France, b. 1961), Dai Fujikura (Japan, b. 1977), and John Zorn (United States, b. 1953). Ligeti Forward will take place approximately ten years after Ligeti’s passing, June 12, 2006. Many of these composers have been featured in CONTACT!, the Philharmonic’s new-music series.
The first Ligeti Forward program couples Ligeti’s Piano Concerto (1985–88), performed by Conor Hanick, with Alexandre Lunsqui’sKinetic Study 2 (1998) and Unsuk Chin’s Fantaisie mécanique (1994, rev. 1997). Ligeti’s Piano Concerto illustrates his fascination with polyrhythms, and much of the concerto exists in a state of perpetual motion, with four of the five movements being fast. Alexandre Lunsqui writes of his Kinetic Study 2, which also features perpetual motion: “The friction between a fast moto perpetuo and fragmented melodic lines creates layers of rhythms and harmonic packages in constant motion.” South Korean composer Unsuk Chin, who studied with Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, writes that her Fantaisie mécanique is “a union of two contradictory concepts: improvisation and predetermined structure.”
The second Ligeti Forward program features Ligeti’s Cello Concerto (1966), performed by Jay Campbell, alongside Marc-André Dalbavie’sAxiom (2004) and Dai Fujikura’s ice (2009–10). Ligeti’s Cello Concerto opens with a single note sustained for a more than a minute, first on the cello then expanded throughout the ensemble, in an exploration of timbre. Dedicated to Ligeti, French composer Marc-André Dalbavie’s quartet Axiom nods to Ligeti’s rigorous musical logic, including in his 1951–53 Musica ricercata for solo piano. Influenced by the work of Ligeti during his studies at the Trinity College of Music, Japanese composer Dai Fujikura writes of his ice: “I started the piece by imagining the sound of golden dust on the palm of my hand, which I would blow gently, and the sound of ice sheets cracking as they rub against each other.”
The final Ligeti Forward program features Ligeti’s Violin Concerto (1990, rev. 1992–93) alongside Gérard Grisey’s Talea (ou la machine et les herbes folles) (1986) and John Zorn’s Remedy of Fortune (2015). Ligeti’s Violin Concerto blends avant-garde and traditional elements, and utilizes alternate tunings — a violin and a viola are tuned to the natural harmonics of the double bass — producing unusual sonic effects. French spectral composer Gérard Grisey, who studied with Ligeti, begins his Talea with an idea from which elements are gradually removed and others put in place, a style reminiscent of Medieval and Renaissance motet structures and also popular with 20th-century experimental composers. American composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist John Zorn’s Remedy of Fortune was inspired by a poem by 14th-century composer Guillaume de Machaut that explores, in Zorn’s words, “the changing fortunes of romantic love: pain, desire, devotion, hope, beauty, longing, ecstasy, intoxication, frustration, anger and despair.” Zorn’s connections to Ligeti include his work À Rebours, written as a memorial to Ligeti, and a cadenza for Ligeti’s Violin Concerto commissioned by Jennifer Koh. John Zorn’s music will also be featured on the NY PHIL BIENNIAL program featuring Brooklyn Rider.
Under the name LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI, select graduates of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY — in which participants study contemporary music and classic works of the modern era — have been returning regularly to perform at Lucerne. Members of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI have also been forming their own distinct ensembles. Ligeti Forward marks the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI’s first international project.
Ligeti Forward is co-presented by the New York Philharmonic, LUCERNE FESTIVAL, and Met Museum Presents, the live arts series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.