Opening Night at 92nd Street Y – October 15
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Gives Exclusive
NYC Performance in 92Y Debut
Jeremy Denk Joins SPCO as Guest Pianist and Artistic Partner
New York Premiere of New Work by George Tsontakis
September 1, 2016
New York, NY – On October 15, celebrated pianist Jeremy Denk joins the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, “the leading orchestra of its kind in America” (The New York Times), in its 92Y debut and its first New York performance since Carnegie Hall five years ago, opening 92Y’s superb 2016/17 classical concert season. This trailblazing ensemble performs the New York premiere of O Mikros, O Megas (The Small World, The Huge World) by George Tsontakis, whose ties to the Orchestra have included three other world premieres earning a Grawemeyer Award and Grammy nomination. This piece premieres the previous evening at Dartmouth. Jeremy Denk, 2013 MacArthur Fellow and one of SPCO’s Artistic Partners since 2014, is the soloist for the Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major, and the orchestra also performs Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major.
George Tsontakis remarks on his new work: “My title, O Mikros, O Megas was inspired by the opening lines of Axion Esti, by the great contemporary Greek poet, Odysseas Elytis: ‘Aftos O Kosmos, O Mikros, O Megas’ (‘This tiny world, this enormous world’). There are no direct literal connections to the words, only the feeling of the intended ambiguity; certainly no superficial dynamic nor density parallels. In fact, it is to me that within the quietest and most inwardly moments of the work, the world seems to fully impose its power and enormity. At the same time, the figurative ‘flip-side’ of my work’s title could well be ‘This tiny fleeting life, this huge eternal life’ — a reflection on recent world circumstances including the tumbling world, loss of friends and my own personal advancement into the foothills of an ageless maturity. Thinking and hearing into the sonic qualities and potentials of the string orchestra, my creative and inward sensibilities seemed to eschew many ‘fast and loud’ possibilities for those of quietude and grace. I fought with this tendency, frankly, during the work’s composition, however, in the end, textures of long, quietly floating tensions won out, for the most part. There are faster movements among the four and imploding episodes, but the heart and largeness of the work are made manifest in the second and last. All movements end quietly, and the last with my most preferred ending, a ‘dot dot dot’ figure. In fact, in the score, the performers are given the option of repeating the final phrase for as long as desired, until the ‘end’ of the work is felt.”
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra recently launched their New Generation Initiative, which offers free and reduced price tickets to children, students, and young adults, as well as exclusive ticket offers, pre-sales, happy hours, and concerts in informal venues. SPCO Managing Director and President Jon Limbacher states: “We believe our music has the power to inspire, challenge, move and uplift and that everyone, including young people, deserves the opportunity to experience transformational performances, regardless of socio-economic status. We’ve already made our performances accessible through affordable ticket prices and performance venues conveniently located throughout the metro area, and now we’re expanding our accessibility even further by inviting children and students to attend unlimited SPCO concerts for free, along with a suite of new programs that will allow us to serve more young people in our community through our music.” This belief is shared by 92nd Street Y which offers reduced price tickets to audience members under 35, in addition to various free benefits and special offers through The Lexlist; Majors for Minors invites kids and teens age 8-18 to enjoy any concert in 92Y’s regular season for free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Saturday, October 15 at 8:00PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall
GEORGE TSONTAKIS: O Mikros, O Megas (“The Small World, The Huge World”) for Chamber Orchestra (New York premiere)
MOZART: Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488 with Jeremy Denk, piano
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, D. 125
About 92nd Street Y:
92nd Street Y is a center for the arts and innovation, a convener of ideas, and an incubator for creativity. Founded in 1874, it seeks to create, provide and disseminate programs of distinction that foster the physical and mental growth of people throughout their lives. From its New York headquarters, 92Y offers thousands of programs, including talks with leaders in every field; outstanding performing, visual and literary arts presentations and classes; fitness and sports programs; and activities for children and families. 92Y also creates community far beyond its four walls, bringing people from all over the world together through innovations like the award-winning #GivingTuesday and the Social Good Summit. Along with live webcasts and a growing online archive of free talks and performances, it’s transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action all over the world. All of 92Y’s programming is built on a foundation of Jewish values, including the capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the potential of education and the arts to change lives; and a commitment to welcoming and serving people of all ages, races, religions and ethnicities.
About Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra:
Renowned for its artistic excellence, remarkable versatility of musical styles and adventurous programming, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is widely regarded as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. Entering its 58th season in September 2016, the SPCO has recently undergone transformational change with the opening of its new home, the Ordway Concert Hall, the addition of a new generation of players, and significant changes in the scope of its artistic vision. The SPCO is primarily an unconducted ensemble that performs a broad range of repertoire from Baroque to new music and works in close collaboration with a diverse series of Artistic Partners. The orchestra’s current Artistic Partners are Jonathan Cohen, Jeremy Denk, Martin Fröst, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Pekka Kuusisto and Thomas Zehetmair. Past Artistic Partners include Christian Zacharias, Roberto Abbado, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Douglas Boyd, Joshua Bell, Nicholas McGegan, Stephen Prutsman and Dawn Upshaw.
The virtuoso musicians of the SPCO present more than 130 concerts and educational programs each year, and are regularly heard on public radio programs which reach 1.2 million listeners each week on 289 stations. The SPCO has released 67 recordings, commissioned 146 new works, and tours nationally and internationally, including performances in premier venues in Europe, Asia and South America. Recent engagements in Berkeley, CA, New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Ojai Festival, and tours to Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe were met with great critical acclaim.
The SPCO is nationally recognized for its commitment to broad community accessibility, its innovative audience outreach efforts, and its educational and family programming. Regular subscription series are performed in a variety of different venuesacross the Twin Cities metropolitan area each season, a unique commitment to geographic accessibility for a major orchestra. The SPCO offers the most affordable tickets of any major orchestra in the United States, with over 50 percent of tickets available for $12 or less. The orchestra also recently launched an innovative new ticket membership model in which members pay $5 per month to attend unlimited concerts. The SPCO’s award-winning CONNECT education program reaches over 5,000 students and teachers annually in 12 Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools, and its Target® Free Family Musicprogram provides engaging and educational experiences for thousands of Twin Cities children and families each year. The SPCO’s Liquid Music Series (named “Best of Classical” by The New York Times) creates a space for innovative new projects and iconoclastic artists in unique presentation formats and invites adventurous audiences to discover the new and the fascinating within the flourishing landscape of contemporary chamber music.
About Jeremy Denk:
One of America’s most thought-provoking, multi-faceted, and compelling artists, pianist Jeremy Denk is the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, was named Musical America’s 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year, and is the 2014 winner of the Avery Fisher Prize. He has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London, and regularly gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and throughout the United States. Last season he returned to Carnegie Hall as part of a 13-city recital tour, in addition to performing at London’s Wigmore Hall. He also toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and played Bach’s set of six keyboard concertos in a single evening with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He will reprise Bach’s concertos on tour with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields next season.
To coincide with the release of his second Nonesuch Records album, Bach: Goldberg Variations, Denk launched the 2013-14 season with performances of the “Goldbergs” in Boston, Chicago, and Washington; the album reached number one of Billboard’s Classical Chart and was featured in “Best of 2013” lists by The New Yorker and The New York Times. Other season highlights include his return to Carnegie Hall to play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 on tour with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, and performances of the concerto with the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati and Baltimore, as well as with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, leading from the keyboard. Upcoming highlights include his debut with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Esa Pekka Salonen, and with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Susanna Mälkki. He will also return to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. As Music Director of the 2014 Ojai Music Festival, Denk looks forward to performing and curating, and has written the libretto to a comic opera, The Classical Style, by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky. Inspired by Charles Rosen’s eponymous seminal text, the opera—a co-commission of the Ojai Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, and the Aspen Music Festival—features the characters of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
Denk is known for his original and insightful writing on music, which Alex Ross praises for its “arresting sensitivity and wit.” The pianist’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Guardian, and on the front page ofThe New York Times Book Review. One of his New Yorker contributions, “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” forms the basis of a memoir he is writing for future publication by Random House. Recounting his experiences of touring, performing, and practicing, his blog, Think Denk, was recently selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress web archives. For his work as a writer and pianist, Out magazine included Denk on its “Out 100” list celebrating the most compelling people of 2013.
In 2012, Denk made his Nonesuch debut with a pairing of masterpieces old and new: Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata No. 32, Op. 111, and György Ligeti’s Études. The album was named one of the best of 2012 by The New Yorker, NPR, and the Washington Post, and Denk’s account of the Beethoven sonata was selected by BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library as the best available version recorded on modern piano. Denk has a long-standing attachment to the music of American visionary Charles Ives, and his recording of Ives’s two piano sonatas featured in many “best of the year” lists. Last season, the pianist was invited by Michael Tilson Thomas to appear as soloist in the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks festival, and he recorded Henry Cowell’s Piano Concerto with the orchestra. Having cultivated relationships with many living composers, he currently has several commissioning projects in progress.
Denk has toured frequently with violinist Joshua Bell, and their recently released Sony Classical album, French Impressions, won the 2012 Echo Klassik award. He also collaborates regularly with cellist Steven Isserlis, and has appeared at numerous festivals, including the Italian and American Spoleto Festivals, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music, Verbier, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aspen Music, and Mostly Mozart Festivals.
Jeremy Denk has earned degrees from Oberlin College, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School. He lives in New York City, and his website and blog are at jeremydenk.net.