Bard News & Events

Press Release

The Fisher Center Presents the American Symphony Orchestra, February 6 and 7

February Concert Highlights Include Works by Tsontakis, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Revueltas

Eleanor Davis
American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein, music director.  Image Credit: Steven J. Sherman
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College presents the second concert of the 2008–2009 season of the popular American Symphony Orchestra Fisher Center Series, Friday, February 6 and Saturday, February 7 at 8:00 p.m. in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater. Highlights of “Tsontakis, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Revueltas” include Clair de Lune, by Grammy-nominated composer George Tsontakis, Mozart’s Symphony No. 41Jupiter,” Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, andRevueltas’s La noche de los mayas. A preconcert talk by Richard Wilson, composer in residence with the ASO, begins at 6:45 p.m. Individual tickets are $20, $30, and $35. Call 845-758-7900 or visit the Fisher Center website at for further information.
The series features the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by music director Leon Botstein. Of their performance as the resident orchestra of the Bard Music Festival, the New York Times wrote, “The [American Symphony] orchestra, superbly responsive to Mr. Botstein’s driven interpretation, sounded exceptional.” The final concerts of the 2007–2008 season, “Wilson, Shostakovich, Brahms,” are presented on Friday, April 17, and Saturday, April 18. Featured works are Wilson’s The Cello Has Many Secrets, Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 3.
About the Program:

Clair de Lune (Moonlight) was written in 2007 by George Tsontakis, Distinguished Composer in Residence at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, Grammy Award nominee, and recipient of the international Grawemeyer Award (2005), and the 2007 Charles Ives Living Award. Tsontakis commented, “I have composed my ‘Clair’ with all the color, texture, etherealness, irony, and wonderment tossed to me through Debussy’s title … a cousin, perhaps, related by a simple and mysterious universal image. I’ve tried very hard to make this “Clair” my own.”
Wolfgang Amadèus Mozart composed the Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (“Jupiter”), his last symphony, in 1788 at the age of 32. According to the diary of the English publisher Vincent Novellop, “Mozart’s son said he considered the Jupiter to be the highest triumph of instrumental composition.”
After reading Shakespeare’s comedy, child prodigy Felix Mendelssohn wrote Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1826 at the age of 17. Mendelssohn was the first leading Romantic composer to produce a series of concert overtures, of which Midsummer was the earliest. Several elements from Shakespeare’s story can be heard: Bottom’s braying after he has been turned into an ass; a theme for the lovers; and Oberon’s majestic hunting horns.
Silvestre RevueltasLa noche de los Mayas was originally conceived as a film score for Chano Urueta’s movie of the same name in 1939. The four-movement suite assembled from the film combines elements characteristic of the rich tradition of popular music in Mexico with trends in European modern music from the 1920s and 1930s. According to Co Artistic Director Christopher Gibbs,Professor of Music at Bard College, “The piece is an amazing blockbuster with 10 percussionists, the end of which is mind-blowingly exciting and loud. It is a lively work by a Mexican composer who died relatively young and probably didn’t receive the full recognition of his talent.”
Leon Botstein is music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the radio orchestra of Israel. Radio broadcasts of Botstein’s concerts with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra may be heard in syndication throughout the United States. He is also the founder and coartistic director of the Bard Music Festival. Since 1975 he has been president of Bard College.
Last season, a live recording of a live performance of Botstein conducting the BBC Symphony in John Foulds’s A World Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall was released by Chandos. Paul Dukas’s opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue with the BBC Symphony was released by Telarc. (This opera was conducted by Leon Botstein with the American Symphony Orchestra in 1999 and with New York City Opera in 2005.) Soon to be released is Bruno Walter’s Symphony No. 1 with NDR–Hamburg on the CPO label. In the fall of 2008, Botstein led the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra on a tour of the U.S. West Coast (following 2006’s triumphant tour of the East Coast); and this spring he opens the Leipzig Bach Festival with a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah to commemorate the composer’s bicentennial.
In addition to a demanding schedule as a guest conductor, Botstein has also made a number of prestigious recordings of works by Chausson, Copland, Sessions, Perle, Dohnányi, Liszt, Bruckner, Bartók, Hartmann, Reger, Glière, and Szymanowski for such labels as Telarc, New World Records, Bridge, Koch, and Arabeseque. With the American Symphony Orchestra he has recorded live performances of two operas by Richard Strauss: Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt, and Die Liebe der Danae with Lauren Flanigan; a recording of Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands; and discs of Dohnanyi, Brahms, and Joachim, among others. His recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of Gavriil Popov’s epic Symphony No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations, Op. 3, received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Orchestral Performance. Among the orchestras with which he has performed are the BBC Symphony, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, NDR–Hamburg, NDR–Hannover, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Bamberg, Bern, Düsseldorf, and Teatro Real Madrid.
Botstein is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the author of numerous articles and books. For his contributions to music he has received the award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Harvard University’s prestigious Centennial Award, as well as the Cross of Honor, First Class from the government of Austria.
The American Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski. Its music director and principal conductor is Leon Botstein. As part of Lincoln Center Presents Great Performers at Avery Fisher Hall, the American Symphony has pioneered the performance of thematically organized concerts, linking music to the visual arts, literature, politics, and history. In addition, the American Symphony Orchestra performs in a lecture/concert series with audience interaction called Classics Declassifiedat Peter Norton Symphony Space. It is also the resident orchestra of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. There the American Symphony performs a winter concert series as well as in Bard’s annual SummerScape Festival and the Bard Music Festival. Its music education programs are presented at numerous high schools throughout New York, New Jersey, and Long Island.
Among the American Symphony’s recent recordings are music by Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands for New World Records, and music of Ernst von Dohnányi for Bridge Records. Its recording of Richard Strauss’s opera Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt and of Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae were made for Telarc. Other recordings with Leon Botstein include Franz Schubert: Orchestrated on the Koch International label, with works by Joachim, Mottl, and Webern; and, on the Vanguard Classics label, Johannes Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 (1860). The American Symphony inaugurated São Paolo’s new concert hall and has made several tours of Asia and Europe. It has performed with the Peer Gynt Theater Company of Norway in Central Park, and has a long history of appearing in charitable and public benefits for such organizations as Sha’are Zedek Hospital, the Jerusalem Foundation, and PBS. 
The American Symphony Orchestra has an illustrious history of music directors and guest conductors. Succeeding Leopold Stokowski, who directed the orchestra from 1962 to 1972, were Kazuyoshi Akiyama (1973–78), Sergiu Comissiona (1978–82), Moshe Atzmon and Guiseppe Patane (codirectors, 1982–84), John Mauceri (1985–87), and Catherine Comet (1990–92). Notable guest conductors have included Leonard Bernstein, Karl Böhm, Aaron Copland, Morton Gould, Aram Khachaturian, James Levine, André Previn, Yehudi Menuhin, James de Preist, Gunther Schuller, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Sir William Walton. 


back to top

This event was last updated on 03-25-2009