New York Philomusica


Works of Haydn, Berkeley and Dvorák

Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 8PM - Merkin Concert Hall

The New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble will perform the first concert of its 33rd season under the artistic direction of A. Robert Johnson on Thursday, October 21, 2004, at 8:00 p.m., in Merkin Concert Hall, Abraham Goodman House (129 West 67th Street), in New York City.

Expanding upon its review of the C.O.R.E. repertory, in October New York Philomusica celebrates expressive strings, with works spanning three centuries. The evening will include Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 74, No. 3 (1793); Michael Berkeley’s String Quartet No. 2 (1983); and Antonín Dvorák’s Quintet in E-flat, Op. 97 (1893). Featured artists in this program are Jesse Mills and Naoko Tanaka, violins; Junah Chung and Richard O’Neill, violas; and Gregory Hesselink, ’cello. There will be a Meet-the-Artists interview preceding the concert at 7:30 p.m., conducted by Mr. Johnson. A reception for the audience and artists follows the performance.

Following a year of surveying the works that laid the foundation for “classical music” as we know it today, this season expands its scope to examine the most important works of all eras, opening with an appropriately wide-ranging concert that covers everything from one of the fathers of modern composition, Joseph Haydn, to one of the newest and brightest stars on the contemporary classical scene, Michael Berkeley, whose work has been featured in recent seasons by the New York Philomusica. Adding additional appeal is the great Antonín Dvorák, who will be celebrated across the city this year, on the hundredth anniversary of his death.

The concert opens with Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 74, No. 3, nicknamed “The Rider” for its galloping finale. Haydn helped to lay the foundation for string quartet form with his compositions, and his huge influence on later composers is frequently appreciated. This quartet is particularly notable as one of the first written for the general public instead of a private patron, resulting in music that tends to be much more expressive and emotional, with exaggerated tempos and catchy melodies, even leading some scholars to remark that this particular quartet foreshadows the dawn of Romanticism.

Contemporary composer Michael Berkeley is clearly in esteemed company on this program, and he deserves the honor. A prolific composer who is widely performed in the United Kingdom, Benjamin Britten’s godson is beginning to receive his due recognition in this country. Berkeley’s Chamber Symphony was given its U.S. premiere by the New York Philomusica in the 2002-2003 season, and this year the ensemble presents his String Quartet No. 2, a sensitive and dramatic work that the composer says possesses “a freer, more random use of thematic material.” Carefully controlled even when the music temporarily abandons the constraints of barlines, this piece adds much to the richness of the evening’s offerings.

Czech composer Antonín Dvorák continues to be celebrated worldwide with extra exuberance this year, which marks the centennial of his death. The Quintet in E-flat, Op. 97, was actually written during a visit to Iowa, and the piece was inspired in part by the folk songs of the native and African Americans. This quintet, one of the most passionate and exotic of Dvorák’s American creations, is one of the best examples of the range of emotion and expressivity that can be achieved with only a few stringed instruments.

Using a small group of very talented musicians and a selection of some of the best works of the last three hundred years, this concert not only celebrates each composer in turn, but illuminates the breadth of expression that comes directly from the hearts of these fine composers and performers. Kicking off a season full of fireworks, October’s celebration of expressive strings provides an introduction to the various eras that will be covered and the value of these works that have been carefully selected as representative of the most important in history.

Upcoming New York City concerts: New York Philomusica will present five concerts at Merkin Hall this season. Concerts will be held on the following Thursdays: October 21 and December 16, 2004, and January 20, March 10, and May 12, 2005. A five-concert subscription starts at $120. Program details and subscription information can be found at New York Philomusica holds an additional annual concert series in Rockland County at the Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church, 51 Sickletown Road, Pearl River, NY. October 21st’s program will be performed in Rockland County on the preceding Saturday, October 16th, at 8 p.m. For more information, call Orangetown Friends of Philomusica at (845) 359-5660.

NEW YORK PHILOMUSICA was founded in 1971 by A. Robert Johnson to provide a new and comprehensive model of presenting chamber music to the public, which has since been adopted by many chamber ensembles. The group helped pioneer the modern residency through its 1973 seven-week residency at Dartmouth College, followed by its New York City Metropolitan Subscription Concerts in all five boroughs (1975-1979) and New York State Capitol Region Residency (1979-1981). Always a breeding ground for the finest musicians, the ensemble has fostered the talent of such artists as Tim Eddy, Kim Kashkashian, David Jolley, David Krakauer, Robert Levin, Todd Phillips, and Bill Purvis early in their careers. The ensemble has performed concerts and master classes on three continents and been broadcast on radio and television. The centerpiece of all the ensemble’s activities is its annual concert series in New York City’s Merkin Concert Hall. Praised by critics worldwide, the ensemble’s range of programming includes its 1993 World Premiere of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale, with a new text by Kurt Vonnegut, the 1992 and 2002 premieres of works commissioned from John Harbison, the 1999 American premiere of Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4, for piano and string quintet, and numerous collaborations with renowned jazz pianist, the late Sir Roland Hanna. New York Philomusica has provided sustained exposure to the music of three composers—Iain Hamilton, Jacob Druckman, and John Harbison—through its Featured Composer program.

The first American ensemble to record Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, New York Philomusica is the first group ever to record the entire Mozart Divertimento catalogue. The Divertimento recordings were originally released by VoxBox Productions in 1975 and were followed by a release of Mozart Wind Serenades. Both titles were reissued in October 2002—with updated, comprehensive liner notes by New York Philomusica’s Artist Laureate, Mozart scholar Robert Levin—on the ensemble’s own label, New York Philomusica Records, established in 1992. Following a new release in April 2004, George and Joseph in Paris, featuring Robert Levin on piano, New York Philomusica Records now has 16 titles, available online at or through the New York Philomusica at

TICKET PRICES for October 21st are $35 ($30 seniors). Student tickets 50% off regular ticket price. Further student discounts available through participating schools. Group discounts are also available. For information or tickets, call New York Philomusica at (212) 580-9933, or visit

For press tickets, photographs, or further information, please contact:
Kim Stanford, 917-697-7588, or Tali Chitaiad, 212-580-9933

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