The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts Presents the Opening Concert in the 2008–2009 American Symphony Orchestra Series
September Program Features Works by Tower, Beethoven, Strauss in Fisher Center's Acoustically Superb Sosnoff Theater
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College presents the opening concert of the 2008–2009 season of the popular American Symphony Orchestra Fisher Center series, Friday, September 19 and Saturday, September 20 at 8:00 p.m. in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater. 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. A subscription to the three-concert series is $80 per person, and is available until Tuesday, September 9. Call 845-758-7900 or visit the Fisher Center website at www.fishercenter.bard.edu for further information.
Hailed as “one of the most successful woman composers of all time” in the New Yorker magazine, Joan Tower celebrates her 70th birthday in September. Tower has been Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College since 1972, and was the first woman to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition in 1990. Of her composition, Strike Zones, Tower says, “The real significance of the title is that most percussion instruments are struck and in this work I give each instrument (or group of instruments) a ‘zone’ of timbre that explores the various ‘DNA’ properties of those instruments. The percussionist travels across the front of the stage to stop at each of these ‘zones’.”
Christopher Gibbs, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Music, comments, “Although written at a difficult time in his life Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony is one of his most ingenious works … and is shorter, lighter, and far more good-humored than its imposing neighbors, the restless Seventh and the towering Ninth. The two final works on the program span Richard Strauss’s creative life. He wrote Death and
Transfiguration at the age of 25 and the Four Last Songs, his final compositions, 60 years later, just before his death at age 85. Strauss had a lifelong love affair with the soprano voice and gave no more moving tribute than in these last songs.”
“Tsontakis, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Revueltas” highlights those composers in the second program of the series, on Friday, February 6, and Saturday, February 7. Works include Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Revueltas’s La noche de los mayas, Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter,” and Clair de Lune by Bard’s Distinguished Composer in Residence George Tsontakis.
The final concerts of the 2007–2008 series, “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.
American Symphony Orchestra
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 Declassified at Peter Norton Symphony Space. It is also the resident orchestra of the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. There ASO maintains a winter season and also performs in Bard’s annual SummerScape Festival and the Bard Music Festival. ASO’s music education programs are presented as numerous high schools through New York, New Jersey, and Long Island.
The American Symphony Orchestra has had 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 (co-directors 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.
Leon Botstein, Conductor
Last season, a recording of Leon Botstein conducting John Foulds’s A World Requiem was released by Chandos from a live performance at Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Symphony. 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. This season, Mr. Botstein leads the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra a tour of the U.S. West Coast (following 2006’s triumphant tour of the East Coast); and opens the Leipzig Bach Festival with a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah to commemorate the composer’s bicentennial.
Mr. 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. In 2004 he was invited by former Secretary General Kofi Annan to address the U.N. on the topic “Why Music Matters.”
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