While Shindigger was giddy to celebrate the Chinese New Year last week with the New York Philharmonic at its second annual Chinese New Year Gala, not everyone was excited to ring in the Year of the Snake. Take Joan Rivers, for example. “I’m fucking angry, because they make a lot of our jewelry for QVC,” Read More
Mahlered by Telemarketers
The phone rings at 9 a.m. The number looks familiar, but I answer before I can place it. It’s them again. What do they want? Money. Membership. Support. Fund-raising. The phone rings several days later. It’s a different number. I answer before I remember not to. My brain is fuzzy; I haven’t had coffee yet.
“Hi, Kara, this is the New York Philharmonic,” the voice on the phone says.
“I’m not interested,” I say, trying to get off the phone as quickly as possible, feeling, once again, like a total heel.
I don’t not want to support them; I just don’t actually want to.
The Eight-Day Week
NPR’s most venerable personage—in a post-Click-and-Clack era—is Prairie Homeboy Garrison Keillor, and he’s celebrating turning 70 with a concert at the New York Philharmonic. He’s not just sitting in the box: Mr. Keillor is narrating an orchestral performance with love sonnets and something called “Hot Bananas Poetry and Piano Ping-Pong.” The evening concludes with an Read More
The Eight-Day Week
It’s opening night for the New York Philharmonic—finally, our fall is in full swing! We’ll be celebrating a different season, though, as music director Alan Gilbert opens the season with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a piece of music that once moved audiences to riot and is now the center of a lovely evening at Lincoln Read More
Newlywed Alec Baldwin has gifted the New York Philharmonic a cool $1 million to honor Zarin Mehta, the orchestra’s departing president and executive director. Mr. Mehta, whom musical director Alan Gilbert has credited with supporting cutting edge programming choices like last week’s concerts at the Park Avenue Armory, will leave in August 2012 when his contract expires.
The money is proceeds from Mr. Baldwin’s Capital One Bank commercials, and part of ongoing donations from money he’s earned from those ads to his favorite cultural institutions. This has also involved synergy with Capital One Bank itself making donations, as described in a Wall Street Journal news item last year about the actor’s philanthropic activities.
Euro in the Zone
Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s violin concerto is a soaring, virtuosic work surprisingly full of optimism, given it’s taken in part from music the composer wrote for films about poverty, political corruption and squandered second chances.
So when Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos finishes a three-day run playing the work with the New York Philharmonic Saturday night—thereby missing the elections that could decide if Greece stays in the euro-zone or heads closer to the exit—it will not have been without a measure of irony.
“The last elections, even though this was in the middle of a tour of mine, I flew just for the day to vote and back to play but that was because I was on tour in Europe,” Mr. Kavakos told The Observer. “Now my last concert is on Saturday with the New York Phil and the elections are on Sunday. And on Monday I have a concert in Saint Peterburg, so there is no way for me to make it.” He’s slated to play the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 there, with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra.
It was a quintessentially March evening. Though the sun was shining bright, the breeze added enough of a chilling twinge that guests shivered as they checked their coats at Avery Fisher Hall. The troupe was gathering for the New York Philharmonic’s spring gala, and given the ambiguous weather, their outfits bespoke the seasonal purgatory.
Some donned bright patterned frocks, deciding to ring in the season with open, if goose-bumped, arms, while assorted grand-dames entered in full fur coats. Half of the gentlemen had dusted off their Easter ties, but the rest chose more subdued neckwear hues. Overall, the group’s collective attire oscillated undecidedly somewhere on the spectrum between lion and lamb.
The Observer walked up the stairs toward cocktail hour directly behind a bronzed and conspicuously trim Alec Baldwin, and his yogi belle, Hilaria Thomas. Where had they been basking, we asked. “We went to Florida for the weekend. It was unusual, because I’m not much of a Florida person,” Mr. Baldwin said. “We had three days, or two and a half days …” he began. “Of paradise!” Ms. Thomas interjected, finishing his sentence with an adoring, eyelash-fluttering gaze.
“We would exercise in the morning and then lay by the pool all day,” Mr. Baldwin admitted. “And then exercise at night,” Ms. Thomas added. The Observer blushed. “Yeah, we had a lot of exercise.”
When Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in May of 1913, its thorny polyrhythms and pagan-inspired choreography completely unnerved the audience, whose booing and catcalls eventually erupted into a full-blown riot. Even after the police intervened, chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance as bar-room-style brawls broke out in the Parisian aisles, sending the evening into the annals of music history.
“We’re a very democratic place,” Eric Latzky, the vice president of communications at the New York Philharmonic, said over the phone last week. “I think there was a healthy expression of ideas from a lot of people.”
When it comes to creating a concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it seems that everyone has an opinion. This Saturday, the night before the anniversary, the Philharmonic will play what it is calling “A Concert for New York.” The program is simple: Mahler’s Second Symphony, the uplifting “Resurrection,” with two excellent soloists: soprano Dorothea Röschmann and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung.
But the process of choosing the piece was more complicated. What tone do you want to set at an event like this? You don’t want to be too mournful, or too triumphant. Not too explicitly tied to 9/11, but not too general.
On Friday evening, the conductor Riccardo Muti made his biggest play yet for New York. Mr. Muti is a brilliant, intense musician, and things are always accordingly brilliant and intense when he comes to the city.
He’s got some bad blood here. After a courtship in 2000, and then again several times over the next Read More