The All-Star Orchestra offers exceptional performances of the world’s greatest music as the foundation of a new arts-in-education paradigm that uses state-of-the-art broadcast and multi-media technologies to shatter barriers to access and to conceptually transform the classical music experience for the 21st century. This is our mission.
Programs juxtapose beloved classical masterpieces with exciting new works from leading American composers. The new works, already recorded, include compositions by a veritable “who’s who” of today’s top composers.
The thematic content in each hour-long program will be illustrated with musical excerpts, images, and educational commentary, as well as complete performances of the classical and contemporary American works. The first eight programs are as follows:
Program #1 “Music for the Theatre”
Igor Stravinsky: Suite from the Firebird
Maurice Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2
Bright Sheng: Prelude to Black Swan
The legendary impresario Serge Diaghilev of Les Ballet Russes commissioned from Stravinsky and Ravel some of the greatest music for the ballet. His influence stretched from St. Petersburg to Paris to the New York City Ballet, founded by Diaghilev’s collaborator Georges Balanchine. Former NYCB Composer in Residence Bright Sheng captures the beauty of the dance with his Prelude to Black Swan.
Program #2 “What Makes a Masterpiece?”
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
Philip Glass: Harmonium Mountain
This program will be an exploration of the creative process, tracing the genesis of Beethoven’s iconic symphony and the development of a new work by a modern master. Interactive features will show how short rhythmic and melodic motives evolve into vast symphonic organisms. Interviews will include leading Beethoven scholars and the All-Star musicians.
Program #3 “The New World and Its Music”
Antonin Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Avanti!
Inspired by American dreams and legends, Dvořák created some of his greatest works while living in the United States; above all, the “New World” Symphony. This program will investigate the multiple stories and influences – Native American, African-American, and Czech –that Dvořák transformed in his most forward-looking symphony. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Avanti! offers a contemporary interpretation of the American archetype of “moving on.” Commentators will include author Joseph Horowitz, Dvořák expert Michael Beckerman and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
Program #4 “Politics and Art”
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
Music has sometimes reflected, and at other times challenged repressive ideologies. Shostakovich abandoned the premiere of his challenging 4th symphony for fear of reprisals from the Stalinist government. His triumphant 5th Symphony was next, and the authorities were pleased. To this day the 5th is Shostakovich’s most popular symphony. What is its message? What does “political music” mean today?
Program #5 “Relationships in Music”
Johannes Brahms: Academic Festival Overture
Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish”
Robert Schumann’s wife Clara was herself a gifted pianist and composer. She became a lifelong friend and source of inspiration for Schumann’s protégé Johannes Brahms. This program will explore the turbulent musical and emotional relationships between these three, and the masterpieces that they produced.
Program #6 “The Living Art Form” (working title)
Richard Danielpour : “A Hero’s Journey”(from Piano Concerto #4) Soloist: Xiayin Wang
Samuel Jones: Concerto for Violoncello Soloist: Julian Schwarz
Joseph Schwantner: The Poet’s Hour – Soliloquy for Violin Soloist: Yevgeny Kutik
This program will focus on the soloist’s role, the instruments, and the composer’s juxtaposition of soloist with orchestra. Outstanding young soloists and leading American composers will be featured in performance and in interviews.
Program #7 “Music’s Emotional Impact”
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
David Stock: Blast!
This program will draw viewers into Tchaikovsky’s dramatic personal life, his brief marriage, and his intense correspondence with his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, whom he never met and to whom he dedicated his Fourth Symphony. The dramatic brass fanfares that for Tchaikovsky symbolized Fate find a modern echo in David Stock’s Blast!
Program #8 “Mahler: Love, Sorrow and Transcendence”
Gustav Mahler: Rueckert Lieder (Songs from Latter Days) Soloist: Nancy Maultsby
Gustav Mahler: “Totenfeier” (“Funerary Rites” – 1st Mvt. from Symphony No. 2)
Augusta Read Thomas: Of Paradise and Light
Bernard Rands: Adieu
Mahler’s turbulent loves are expressed through his music. His settings of poems by Friedrich Rueckert explore themes of love, nature, and otherworldliness. Mahler was haunted throughout his life by the premonition of his own death. The first movement of his 2nd Symphony draws stark contrasts between the composer’s premonition of doom, and his vision of life. Modern parallels can be found in “Adieu” by Bernard Rands and “Of Paradise and Light” by his wife, composer Augusta Read Thomas. Both comment on the unique dynamics of creative/personal partnerships.