Diving into his obsession with Beethoven’s music, Jonathan Biss is in the fourth year of his Beethoven/5 commissioning project: the five Beethoven piano concertos each presented with a contemporary composer’s response. After welcoming the NY Premiere of Timo Andres’ entry in 2016, we are proud to be again a co-commissioner for the latest installment, Caroline Shaw’s Watermark, a response to Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto.
“Biss radiates a confidence solidly based on prodigious technique, every never needing recharging, and a stylistic perception both intuitive and intelligent.” — The Washington Post
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 — Intermission — Caroline ShawWatermark (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Caramoor) Mozart Symphony No. 38 in D Major, K. 504, “Prague”
3:00pm Pre-concert conversation with Grant Llewellyn and Caroline Shaw.
Complimentary Garden Listening tickets for Members at the Family level and above
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.
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
Music Director of the North Carolina Symphony and Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, Grant Llewellyn is renowned for his exceptional charisma, energy, and easy authority in music of all styles and periods. Born in Tenby, South Wales, Llewellyn won a Conducting Fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts in 1985 where he worked with Bernstein, Ozawa, Masur, and Previn.
Llewellyn began his tenure as North Carolina Symphony Music Director in 2004 and has also conducted widely across North America, most notably the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Milwaukee, Montreal, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Toronto. As Music Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, America’s leading period orchestra, he gained a reputation as a formidable interpreter of music of the Baroque and classical periods.
Recent guest engagements include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, amongst others. Llewellyn has a continuing relationship with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales whom he led on tour to Patagonia and South America and last season joined their 90th anniversary celebrations. He returns to conduct their Proms in the Park in September 2018 when he also begins his fourth season as Music Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.
Llewellyn began his tenure as North Carolina Symphony Music Director in 2004 and has also conducted widely across North America.
An accomplished opera conductor, Grant Llewellyn has appeared at the opera companies of English National Opera, Opera North, and the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where his repertoire has ranged from The Magic Flute to Alexander Goehr’s Arianna. Recent productions include the US premiere of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Fidelio with the Opéra de Rennes.
Recent recordings include Prokofiev’s violin concerti with Matthew Trusler and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and a disc of Lowell Liebermann’s orchestral works with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Notable discs with the North Carolina Symphony include American Spectrum featuring 20th century works with the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and Britten’s Cello Symphony and Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante with the cellist Zuill Bailey.
Deeply committed and passionate about engaging young people with music, Llewellyn regularly leads education and outreach projects with both his orchestras as well as specialist events such as ‘Feel the Music’ with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. In 2017 he led the first ever “relaxed” BBC Prom with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, a concert specially designed for those with autism, sensory and communication impairments, and learning disabilities.
Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who shares his deep curiosity with music lovers in the concert hall and beyond. He continues to expand his reputation as a teacher, musical thinker, and one of the great Beethoven interpreters of our time. He was recently named Co-artistic Director alongside Mitsuko Uchida at the Marlboro Music Festival, where he has spent twelve summers. In addition, he has written extensively about his relationships with the composers with whom he shares a stage. A member of the faculty of his alma mater the Curtis Institute of Music since 2010, Biss led the first massive open online course (MOOC) offered by a classical music conservatory, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, which has reached more than 150,000 people in 185 countries.
As 2020, the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, approaches, Biss continues to add lectures to his online course until he covers all of the sonatas in time for the anniversary year. At the same time, he progresses in his nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, which will also be completed in 2020. His bestselling eBook, Beethoven’s Shadow, describing the process of recording the sonatas and published by RosettaBooks in 2011, was the first Kindle Single written by a classical musician. These projects represent Biss’ complete approach to music-making and connecting his audience to his own passion for the music.
Biss completes his complete Beethoven piano sonata performance cycles at the Aspen and Ravinia festivals and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra this season. Audiences experienced all the piano sonatas in seven concerts over several years. In 2018–19 he performs with the Philadelphia and Philharmonia orchestras, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Dallas Symphony, among many others. He also continues his collaborations with the Elias, Doric, and Brentano string quartets. In honor of his teacher Leon Fleisher’s 90th birthday, he joins fellow pianists Yefim Bronfman and Katherine Jacobson, as well as Fleisher himself, for celebratory concerts at Carnegie Hall, Perelman Theater in Philadelphia, the Kennedy Center, and Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, performing Schubert, Ravel, Dvorák, Bach, and Kirchner. Biss also tours Finland and Germany with the Japan Philharmonic, Sweden with Musica Vitae, and the Netherlands with Liza Ferschtman, Marc Desmons, and Antoine Lederlin.
This season, as part of his Beethoven/5 project, for which the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is co-commissioning five composers to write piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s, Biss premieres Caroline Shaw’s new concerto alongside Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Seattle Symphony. In the spring of its premiere alone, Shaw’s piece will be performed by Biss and three additional ensembles: the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. He is committed to making sure that the concertos become part of the repertoire, also performing previous commission City Stanzas by Sally Beamish three times over the course of the season. The other concertos which have already premiered are Timo Andres’ The Blind Banister, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and Salvatore Sciarrino’s Il Sogno di Stradella. Brett Dean will write the final concerto.
Previous projects that Biss conceived have included an exploration of composers’ “Late Style” in various concert programs at Carnegie Hall, the Barbican Centre, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and San Francisco Performances. He also gave masterclasses at Carnegie and published the Kindle Single Coda on the topic. Schumann: Under the Influence was a 30-concert exploration of the composer’s role in musical history, for which Biss also recorded Schumann and Dvorák piano quintets with the Elias String Quartet and wrote A Pianist Under the Influence.
Throughout his career Biss has been an advocate for new music. Prior to the Beethoven/5 project, he commissioned Lunaire Variations by David Ludwig, Interlude II by Leon Kirchner, Wonderer by Lewis Spratlan, and Three Pieces for Piano and a concerto by Bernard Rands, which he premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also premiered a piano quintet by William Bolcom.
Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, Biss began his piano studies at age six, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music with Leon Fleisher.
Biss has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. His albums for EMI won Diapason d’Or de l’année and Edison awards. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program.