Thinking about the New York Philharmonic and new music

Posted on: January 9, 2012

In Saturday’s (1/7) New York Times, Zachary Woolfe writes, “The applause was warm last month when Alan Gilbert was presented with the 2011 Ditson Conductor’s Award at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Gilbert was being honored, according to the award citation, for his ‘exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music,’ and the setting—onstage during a pause in the season’s first installment of Contact!, the New York Philharmonic’s new-music series—could not have been more appropriate.” But, Woolfe, believes, the Philharmonic is still missing opportunities to promote new music. “The Philharmonic’s tag line for Contact! is ‘Prepare to go where no audience has gone before,’ but the centerpiece of the Met show, H. K. Gruber’s ‘Frankenstein!!,’ has been done hundreds of times since it was written in the late 1970s. … It is true that second, third and later hearings are as important as premieres in establishing works in the repertory. But Pierre Boulez’s 1991-93 ‘… explosante-fixe …,’ to be heard at the second and final Contact! concert in June is, like ‘Frankenstein!!,’ hardly unfamiliar to New York audiences. And surely names as eminent as Boulez and Elliott Carter (who has a premiere in the June show) belong in the orchestra’s main subscription series.”

Posted January 9, 2012