Contrasting approaches to current events in New York Philharmonic’s “Music of Conscience” series

Posted on: May 30, 2019

“Composer David Lang … doesn’t want to be told what to think,” writes Joshua Barone in Saturday’s (5/25) New York Times. “Mr. Lang much prefers a head-scratcher…. This is the effect he’s hoping to achieve in his new opera, ‘prisoner of the state,’ a morally complex and conflicted retelling of Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’ that has its premiere … as part of ‘Music of Conscience,’ the New York Philharmonic’s season-ending series about politically-minded music in times of strife … The Philharmonic’s series wrestles with contrasting paths to politics in the concert hall: pure instrumental music, in John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1 … and theatrical, text-based music, in Mr. Lang’s ‘prisoner of the state.’ ” Corigliano’s 1990 Symphony No. 1, “a memorial to those who had died from AIDS … was the classical music world’s most high-profile response to the crisis up to that point.… The four-movement work unfolds as musical portraits of Mr. Corigliano’s friends…. An epilogue … offers consolation and serenity through waves meant to evoke, Mr. Corigliano said, an ‘image of timelessness.’ … Mr. Lang specifically avoided … anything that would seem to comment directly on the present….”

Posted May 30, 2019

In photo: The AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., 1987. John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, a response to the AIDS crisis, will be performed during the New York Philharmonic’s “Music of Conscience” series.