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The Fisher Center Presents the American Symphony Orchestra Series "Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Sibelius"

Year Two of the American Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Celebration

Eleanor Davis

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College presents the opening concert of the 2009–10 season of the popular American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) series, “Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Sibelius,” on Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 23, at 8:00 p.m. A preconcert talk by Robert Martin, director, Bard College Conservatory of Music, begins at 6:45 p.m. Individual tickets are $20, $30, and $35. Call 845-758-7900 or visit the Fisher Center website at to purchase tickets or for further information.

The program includes Beethoven’s majestic Sixth Symphony (“Pastorale”), Rachmaninoff'’s rarely performed First Piano Concerto, and Bard Conservatory of Music student Conor Brown’s Clarinet Concerto. Soloists include David Krakauer, clarinet, and Conservatory student Chi-Hui Yen, piano.

The fall concert continues a two-year survey of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies presented in sequence. Bard College President Leon Botstein, music director for the American Symphony Orchestra, recently commented, “Engagement with these nine pieces—the most influential and important set of

symphonies in the canon—can help each listener orient himself or herself within the world of music, not only back in time to the works of Haydn, Mozart, and Bach, but also forward to the music of the 19th and 20th centuries … These large works provide an unusual mirror by which history is reflected.” 

The series features the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by 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 series continues on Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12, 2011, with a concert featuring Beethoven’s bold, boisterous Seventh Symphony and Wellingtons Sieg, the source of inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The program includes André Jolivet’s Trumpet Concertino, George Frideric Handel’s “Let the bright Seraphim,” and Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s Luonnotar, Op. 70. Sibelius’s work, life, and world will be explored during the summer of 2011, at the 22nd Bard Music Festival.

The final concert of the 200910 series is an all-Beethoven affair: the delightful, genial Eighth Symphony; and the jubilant—and somewhat mysterious—Ninth, whose choral finale is lifted from Schiller's “Ode to Joy.” The program will be performed on Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, 2011.

About the Performers: 

Leon Botstein has been music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992. This year he becomes Conductor Laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director since 2003. He is also the founder and coartistic director of the Bard Music Festival, now in its 21st year. He has been president of Bard College in New York since 1975.

Upcoming engagements include the Russian National Philharmonic, the Odessa Symphony, and the Budapest Opera Orchestra. Recent engagements have included the BBC Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony; Budapest Festival Orchestra; Düsseldorf Symphony; London Philharmonic; NDR—Hamburg and Hannover; Royal Scottish National Orchestra; St. Petersburg Philharmonic; and Teatro Real Madrid, among others.

Among Botstein’s recordings are operas by Strauss, Dukas, and Chausson, as well as works of Shostakovich, Dohnányi, Liszt, Bruckner, Bartók, Hartmann, Reger, Glière, Szymanowski, Brahms, Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands. Many recordings of his performances with the American Symphony Orchestra are now available to download on the Internet.

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. He is a 2009 recipient of the Carnegie Foundation’s Academic Leadership Award, and earlier this year he was inducted into the American Philosophical Society.


The American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) was founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski, who defined its mission “to offer great music within the means of everyone.” Under its current Music Director, Leon Botstein, the American Symphony has enhanced that mission by pioneering the performance of thematically organized concerts, linking music to the visual arts, literature, politics, and history. It also specializes in the revival of underplayed repertoire from the last 200 years, all as part of its effort to make orchestral music accessible as well as affordable to everyone.

The ASO performs its Vanguard Series at Carnegie Hall. In addition, it offers a celebrated lecture/concert series with audience interaction, entitled Classics Declassified, at Peter Norton Symphony Space. It is the resident orchestra of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, where it performs an annual winter concert series, as well as participating in Bard’s annual SummerScape Festival and the Bard Music Festival. The American Symphony also recently became the resident orchestra of The Collegiate Chorale, performing regularly in the Chorale’s New York concert series. ASO’s award-winning music education program is active in numerous high schools throughout New York, New Jersey, and Long Island.

Many of the ASO’s concerts are now available on the Internet for download. Among its CDs are music by Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands (New World Records); music of Ernst von Dohnányi (Bridge Records); Richard Strauss’s opera Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt and Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae (Telarc); Franz Schubert: Orchestrated (Koch); and Johannes Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 (Vanguard). The American Symphony inaugurated São Paolo’s new concert hall and has made several tours of Asia and Europe. It has a long history of appearing in charitable and public benefits for such organizations as the Jerusalem Foundation and PBS. 

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September 30, 2010

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This event was last updated on 09-30-2010