World-renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein, a 2011 MacArthur Fellow and alumna of our Evnin Rising Stars mentoring program, returns to Caramoor for Dvorak’s Cello Concerto — called one of the greatest of all cello concertos — with our resident Orchestra of St Luke’s conducted by former Caramoor Artistic Director Peter Oundjian. The 2019 season opener also features Stravinsky’s breathtaking Firebird and a curtain raiser by Canadian composer Gary Kulesha.
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Peter Oundjian, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
Gary Kulesha Torque
Dvořák Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Stravinsky The Firebird Suite (1919 version)
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Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) grew from a group of virtuoso musicians performing chamber music concerts at Greenwich Village’s Church of St. Luke in the Fields in 1974. Now in its 44th season, the Orchestra performs diverse musical genres at New York’s major concert venues, and has collaborated with artists ranging from Renée Fleming and Joshua Bell to Bono and Metallica. In 2018 internationally celebrated expert in 18th-century music Bernard Labadie became OSL’s Principal Conductor, continuing the Orchestra’s long tradition of working with proponents of historical performance practice.
In 2019 OSL launches two major initiatives: the inaugural Bach Festival in New York City and the opening of the DeGaetano Composition Institute. The three-week Bach Festival at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan School of Music’s Neidorff-Karpati hall, and at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music will feature 15 performances, including orchestral concerts conducted by Bernard Labadie, keyboard recitals, and Paul Taylor Dance Company performing its complete set of works choreographed to Bach scores.
OSL’s signature programming includes a subscription series presented by Carnegie Hall, now in its 32nd season; an annual summer residency at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts; and a chamber music series featuring appearances at The Morgan Library & Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center. The Orchestra has participated in 118 recordings, four of which have won Grammy Awards, has commissioned more than 50 new works, and has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres.
Nearly half of OSL’s performances are presented free of charge through its Education & Community program, which reaches over 11,000 New York City public school students each year with school-time concerts. Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL) provides free instrumental coaching, while the Chamber Music Mentorship Program provides professional development opportunities and workshops for pre-professional musicians.
OSL built and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City’s only rehearsal, recording, education, and performance space expressly dedicated to classical music. The DiMenna Center serves more than 500 ensembles and more than 30,000 musicians each year.
Peter Oundjian, conductor
A dynamic presence in the conducting world, Peter Oundjian is renowned for his probing musicality, collaborative spirit, and engaging personality.
The 2018-19 season includes debuts with the Indianapolis and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras, and return engagements with the St. Louis, Baltimore, Atlanta, Utah, Colorado, and New World Symphonies as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. He completes his second season as Artistic Advisor of the Colorado Music Festival.
2017-18 marked Oundjian’s fourteenth and final season as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). His appointment in 2004 reinvigorated the orchestra with recordings, tours, and acclaimed innovative programming, as well as extensive audience growth, significantly strengthening the ensemble’s presence in the world. In 2014, he led the TSO on a tour of Europe, which included a sold-out performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the first performance of a North American orchestra at Reykjavík’s Harpa Hall. In the 16-17 season, Oundjian led the TSO on a major tour of Israel and Europe.
From 2012 to 2018, Oundjian was Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO). Under his baton, the orchestra toured China, the USA, and across Europe. Together they recorded extensively for Sony and Chandos, and presented Britten’s monumental War Requiem at the 2018 BBC Proms.
Few conductors bring such musicianship and engagement to the world’s great podiums—from Berlin, Amsterdam, and Tel Aviv, to New York, Chicago, and Sydney. He has also appeared at some of the great annual gatherings of music and music-lovers: from the BBC Proms and the Prague Spring Festival, to the Edinburgh Festival and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Mozart Festival, where he was Artistic Director from 2003 to 2005.
Oundjian was Principal Guest Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2010 and Artistic Director of the Caramoor International Music Festival in New York from 1997 to 2007. Since 1981, he has been a visiting professor at the Yale School of Music, and earned the university’s Sanford Medal for distinguished service to music in 2013.
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
“A young cellist whose emotionally resonant performances of both traditional and contemporary music have earned her international recognition … Weilerstein is a consummate performer, combining technical precision with impassioned musicianship.” So stated the MacArthur Foundation when awarding Alisa Weilerstein a 2011 MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship, prompting The New York Times to respond: “Any fellowship that recognizes the vibrancy of an idealistic musician like Ms. Weilerstein … deserves a salute from everyone in classical music.” In performances marked by intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets, the American cellist has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice.
In the 2018-19 season, Weilerstein released Transfigured Night on the Pentatone label, joined by Norway’s Trondheim Soloists for three masterworks of the First and Second Viennese Schools: Haydn’s First and Second Cello Concertos and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, from which the album takes its title. Two Scandinavian performances of the album repertoire with the same ensemble open the season. In the spring, she returns to Verklärte Nacht, this time in a trio version, when she tours Europe and the U.S. with pianist and frequent collaborator Inon Barnatan, violinist Sergey Khachatryan, and percussionist Colin Currie. Between these bookends, she gives performances of Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto with five different orchestras (the Gothenburg Philharmonic, Orquesta Nacional de España, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Valencia Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony), and tours the U.S. playing Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic led by Semyon Bychkov. She also performs the Schumann Concerto with the Rotterdam Philharmonic in Belgium and the Netherlands, and gives accounts of Saint-Saëns’s First Cello Concerto, Britten’s Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, and Bloch’s Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque in cities from San Diego to Vienna. Finally, she gives two performances, with the composer leading both Copenhagen’s DR SymfoniOrkestret and the Cincinnati Symphony, of Matthias Pintscher’s new cello concerto Un despertar (An Awakening), written for her and premiered last season. In the midst of her orchestral engagements are five solo performances of Bach’s complete cello suites, in Beverly Hills, Boston’s Celebrity Series, the Saint-Denis Festival in Paris, the Elbphilharmonie as part of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival and for Cal Performances in Berkeley. After years of playing the pieces individually, this season marks only the third in which she has ventured to perform them all.
Weilerstein’s growing and celebrated discography includes a recording of the Elgar and Elliott Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin that was named “Recording of the Year 2013” by BBC Music; the magazine also featured the cellist on the cover of its May 2014 issue. Her next release, on which — as in concerts this season — she played Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic, topped the U.S. classical chart. Her third album, a compilation of unaccompanied 20th-century cello music titled Solo, was pronounced an “uncompromising and pertinent portrait of the cello repertoire of our time” (ResMusica, France). Solo‘s centerpiece is the Kodály sonata, a signature work that Weilerstein revisits on the soundtrack of If I Stay, a 2014 feature film starring Chloë Grace Moretz in which the cellist makes a cameo appearance as herself. In 2015 she released a recording of sonatas by Chopin and Rachmaninoff, marking her duo album debut with Inon Barnatan, which earned praise from Voix des Arts as “a ravishing recording of fantastic music.” And in 2016 she released a recording of Shostakovich’s two cello concertos with the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Pablo Heras-Casado, hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “powerful and even mesmerizing.”
Weilerstein has appeared with all the foremost orchestras of the United States and Europe, collaborating with conductors including Marin Alsop, Jirí Belohlávek, Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Mark Elder, Giancarlo Guerrero, Bernard Haitink, Marek Janowski, Paavo Järvi, Lorin Maazel, Cristian Macelaru, Zubin Mehta, Ludovic Morlot, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson Thomas, Osmo Vänskä, Simone Young, and David Zinman. Her major career milestones include an emotionally tumultuous account of Elgar’s concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim in Oxford, England, for the orchestra’s 2010 European Concert, which was televised live to an audience of millions worldwide and subsequently released on DVD by EuroArts. She and Barenboim reunited in 2012-13 to play Elliott Carter’s concerto on a German tour with the Berlin Staatskapelle. In 2009, she was one of four artists invited by Michelle Obama to participate in a widely celebrated and high profile classical music event at the White House, featuring student workshops hosted by the First Lady, and performances in front of an audience that included President Obama and the First Family. A month later, Weilerstein toured Venezuela as soloist with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel. She has since made numerous return visits to teach and perform with the orchestra as part of its famed El Sistema music education program.
Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Weilerstein is an ardent champion of new music. She recently played the world premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s Outscape, giving it “the kind of debut most composers can only dream of achieving” (Chicago Tribune) with the co-commissioning Chicago Symphony, before European performances with the Stuttgart and Paris Opera Orchestras. The following season she premiered Matthias Pintscher’s cello concerto Un despertar with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which co-commissioned the piece for her, followed by a reprise with the Danish Radio Symphony. She gave the New York premiere of Pintscher’s Reflections on Narcissus under the composer’s own direction during the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural 2014 Biennial, and subsequently the two also performed the work at the BBC Proms. She has worked extensively with Osvaldo Golijov, who rewrote Azul for cello and orchestra (originally premiered by Yo-Yo Ma) for her New York premiere performance at the opening of the 2007 Mostly Mozart Festival. Weilerstein has since played the work with orchestras around the world, besides frequently programming the Argentinean composer’s Omaramor for solo cello. At the 2008 Caramoor festival, she gave the world premiere of Lera Auerbach’s 24 Preludes for Violoncello and Piano with the composer at the keyboard, and the two have subsequently reprised the work at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Kennedy Center, and for San Francisco Performances. Joseph Hallman, a 2014 Grammy Award nominee, has also written multiple works for Weilerstein, including a cello concerto that she premiered with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in 2008, and a trio that she recently premiered on tour with Inon Barnatan and clarinetist Anthony McGill.
Born in 1982, Weilerstein discovered her love for the cello at just two and a half, when her grandmother assembled a makeshift set of instruments from cereal boxes to entertain her while she was ill with chicken pox. Although immediately drawn to the Rice Krispies box cello, Weilerstein soon grew frustrated that it didn’t produce any sound. After persuading her parents to buy her a real cello at the age of four, she developed her natural affinity for the instrument and gave her first public performance six months later. At 13, in October 1995, she played Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo” Variations for her Cleveland Orchestra debut, and in March 1997 she made her first Carnegie Hall appearance with the New York Youth Symphony. A graduate of the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Richard Weiss, the cellist also holds a degree in history from Columbia University, from which she graduated in May 2004. In November 2008, Weilerstein, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, became a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Wednesday May 15 11:00am
Saturday June 15 5:30pm
Sunday July 7 4:00pm
Saturday July 13 4:00pm
Sunday July 28 4:00pm