All-Star Orchestra

Air date: 09/08/2013

Conductor Gerard Schwarz and his All-Star Orchestra of Top Musicians from Across the Country Star in an Unprecedented Eight-Part Musical Series Premiering in September Nationwide on Public Television (check local listings)


Eight one-hour episodes feature major symphonic masterpieces and works from leading contemporary American composers played by hand-picked “all-star” musicians from 22 states


Renowned conductor Gerard Schwarz and his hand-picked team of “all-star” classical musicians from across the United States come together to form a new made-for-television concert series. All-Star Orchestra premieres nationwide in September on public television (check local listings), and airs in New York on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN and continues for seven consecutive weeks. Maestro Schwarz has taken a page from Major League Baseball’s playbook, creating a team of the finest orchestral athletes from top orchestras in the United States. Featuring exceptional performances of the greatest works from the classical repertoire in an accessible format, All-Star Orchestra aims to expose a broad audience of classical music neophytes and connoisseurs to the wonder of classical music.

Maestro Schwarz’s All-Star Orchestra is comprised of top players from some of the country’s greatest orchestra’s including Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, New York (the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Oregon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Utah, Washington D.C., and more. Together these musicians perform on one stage under the leadership of Maestro Schwarz, who led the Seattle Symphony for 26 years and now serves as its Conductor Laureate.

The episodes feature classical masterpieces as well as exciting new works from leading contemporary American composers. Pairing works like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with Philip Glass’ Harmonium Mountain, the series aims to expose classical music to an even broader audience while keeping the listening experience informative and accessible.

Each of the All-Star Orchestra’s eight one-hour programs, recorded over four days, was taped at New York’s historic Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center where conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, and Arturo Toscanini made their classical music recordings. Cameras were allowed to roam freely during the All-Star Orchestra’s recordings creating an unprecedented “up close and personal” experience.

The eight episodes are:


  • Music for the Theatre” featuring Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from the Firebird, Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, and Bright Sheng’s Prelude to Black Swan.
  • What Makes a Masterpiece?” featuring Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Philip Glass’ Harmonium Mountain
  • The New World and Its Music” featuring Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Avanti!
  • Politics and Art” featuring Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5
  • Relationships in Music” featuring Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish”
  • The Living Art Form” featuring Richard Danielpour’s “A Hero’s Journey” (from Piano Concerto #4), Soloist: Xiayin Wang; Samuel Jones’ Concerto for Violoncello, Soloist: Julian Schwarz; and Joseph Schwantner’s The Poet’s Hour – Soliloquy for Violin, Soloist: Yevgeny Kutik
  • Music’s Emotional Impact” featuring Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and David Stock’s Blast!
  • Mahler: Love Sorrow and Transcendence” featuring Gustav Mahler’s Rueckert Lieder (Songs from Latter Days), Soloist: Nancy Maultsby, and “Totenfeier” (“Funerary Rites” – 1st Mvt. from Symphony No. 2); Augusta Read Thomas’ Of Paradise and Light; and Bernard Rands’ Adieu


In addition to performances of classical and contemporary works, the programs also feature musical excerpts, images, interviews and educational commentary by Maestro Schwarz, the All-Star Orchestra musicians, and special guests. Each episode also features a brief historical look at the life of the composer at the time he was composing that particular work.

A supplemental website is being developed to offer additional resources aimed for music appreciation and education. The performances, ancillary footage, interviews, and interactive components will be presented with multi-media technologies to bolster the classical music experience for the digital age.

Along with the first television broadcasts of these programs Naxos of America, a leading independent classical music distributor in the U.S. and Canada, will release this series on DVD on Tuesday, September 24, 2013.

All-Star Orchestra series is a co-production of the All-Star Orchestra (John Forsen, executive producer; Paul Schwendener, executive director) and WNET (Stephen Segaller, executive-in-charge; Julie Anderson, executive producer). American Public Television (APT) distributes All-Star Orchestrato public television stations nationwide.

All-Star Orchestra is provided by Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, The Gladys Rubinstein Trust, The Garrigan Lyman Group, Van Ness Feldman LLP, David Gannett, Bruce and Jeanne McNae, and others.


About WNET

In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.


About American Public Television

American Public Television (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations since 1961. APT also has distributed about half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles for nearly 10 years. Among its 300 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Rick Steves’ Europe, Doc Martin, Nightly Business Report, Moyers & Company, NHK Newsline, Lidia’s Italy in America, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, BBC World News and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home join numerous documentaries and performance programs like Live from the Artists Den which are popular with public television viewers.  APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service.  Now in its 8th year, Create® TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — is distributed by APT.  APT also distributes WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit


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