Young Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong will make his New York Philharmonic debut on February 6, leading the orchestra’s Lunar New Year Concert, becoming just the second-ever conductor to be asked to lead this annual event.
Wong, chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and 2016 Mahler Competition winner, will lead a wide-ranging program celebrating Asian heritage and culture. The New York Philharmonic’s 2019 Lunar New Year Concert will welcome the Year of the Pig with a program themed around the element of fire, featuring the US premiere of Tan Dun’s violin concerto Fire Ritual, Liu Yuan’s Train Toccata, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and an arrangement of the Korean folk song “Arirang”. Continuing the annual tradition, the concert will also include the Spring Festival Overture by composer Li Huanzhi, recognizing the composer’s centenary in 1919.
If you head to Chicago this weekend, visit Lyric Opera for Elektra. There’s no operatic tour de force to surpass this opera, with a title role that demands a truly great singing actress. It’s a stunning vocal marathon, with riveting intensity. This is the Lyric Opera debut for Nina Stemme, who is playing the lead role.
The city of Seattle is celebrating black history with Seattle Art Song Society’s Black Voices. This event honors black achievement presented through spirituals and art songs written by black composers. Grammy Award winning baritone Charles Wesley Evans is joined by Seattle Opera favorites and Seattle Opera Guild award-winners Cheryse McLeod Lewis and Ibidunni Ojikutu, with one of the finest young pianists in Seattle, Joseph Williams, and cellist Keith Thomas.
1. 92Y: Behzod Abduraimov
Behzod Abduraimov, whose solo recital on the main stage of Carnegie Hall two years ago at just 26 was hailed by The New York Times as “brilliant,” returns to New York City for the first time since that dazzling appearance to make his 92Y debut. In a program that will enthrall any lover of piano music, Abduraimov showcases Liszt as both transcriber and composer, first in his virtuosic and moving transcription of Wagner’s Isolde’s Liebestod, then in his unrivaled masterwork, the Sonata in B minor. The recital concludes with Prokofiev’s own transcription of ten pieces from his ballet Romeo and Juliet.
8 p.m. Saturday, February 2
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10128
Behzod Abduraimov, piano
2. Carnegie Hall: Leon Fleisher and Friends - A 90th Birthday Celebration
Leon Fleisher is a revered pianist and teacher to some of the finest artists of our day. In a special celebration of his 90th birthday, Fleisher performs solo works by Bach and Kirchner, as well as music by Schubert, Dvořák, and Ravel with some of the artists whom he has mentored throughout his career. There will also be some surprise guests—via video—who will share their birthday greetings with the master.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 5
Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Jonathan Biss, piano; Yefim Bronfman, piano; Leon Fleisher, piano; Dover Quartet; Rachel Calin, bass
3. New York Philharmonic: Annual Lunar New Year Concert
Young Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong will lead the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Lunar Year Concert, celebrating Asian heritage and culture themed around the element of fire.
7:30 p.m. Friday, February 6
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Lincoln Center, New York, NY 10023
Kahchun Wong, conductor; New York Philharmonic; Bomsori Kim, violin; So Young Park, soprano
1. University of Chicago Presents: The Parker Quartet with Richard O’Neill and Edward Arron
The Parker Quartet is an utterly polished, virtuosic, and creative string quartet with a blue-chip resume. Opening Valentine’s Day month, this program is all about love. Rivalry for love, jealous and possessive love, and heartbreak and unrequited love will be areas explored through music. Korean-American superviolist Richard O’Neill and elegant cellist and chamber music impresario Edward Arron join them to guide us through these sagas.
7:30 p.m. Friday, February 1
Mandel Hall, 1131 E 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Parker Quartet; Richard O'Neill, viola; Edward Arron, cello
2. Lyric Opera of Chicago: Elektra
You owe it to yourself to experience the vocal grandeur and blazing drama of this passionate heroine, played by Nina Stemme in her Lyric Opera debut. She’s the Mycenaean princess whose father, Agamemnon, was murdered by her mother, Klytemnestra, leaving Elektra hell-bent on revenge. As Richard Strauss’s staggeringly powerful orchestra moves inexorably toward the opera’s hair-raising finale, the music gives you a composer at his zenith—magnificently theatrical and devastatingly moving.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 2
20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606
Nina Stemme, Elza van den Heever, Michaela Martens; Donald Runnicles, conductor
3. Civic Orchestra of Chicago: UChicago Premieres
In collaboration with the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition, nine new pieces for orchestra by current and former students of the University of Chicago receive their world premieres under the skillful leadership of former Civic Principal Conductor Cliff Colnot.
8 p.m. Tuesday, February 5
Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60604
Civic Orchestra of Chicago; Cliff Colnot conductor
1. Seattle Symphony: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3
Surprises abound when thoughtful musicians indulge in a bit of mischief and mayhem! The first symphony that Shostakovich composed as a frisky teenager crackles with dark humor and cheeky irony. It will be heard in addition to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Pianist Jonathan Biss, a virtuoso of the highest order, asked Caroline Shaw, the multi-talented composer and performer who became the youngest ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013, to compose Watermark as a response to Beethoven, an endeavor that calls for a healthy balance of sanctity and whimsy.
Thursday-Saturday, January 31-February 2
200 University St Seattle, WA 98101
Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot, conductor; Jonathan Biss, piano
2. Seattle Art Song Society: Black Voices
Come out and celebrate black achievement presented through spirituals and art songs written by black composers and curated and performed by Cheryse McLeod Lewis (celebrated mezzo-soprano with Seattle Opera, and actress), Ibidunni Ojikutu (soprano and performer with Seattle Opera and winner of Seattle Opera Guild Award), Charles Wesley Evans (Grammy Award winning baritone), and Joseph Williams (Oberlin graduate and brilliant pianist). Black Voices continues SASS’s 18-19 “One Voice” season of social justice. SASS events are free and open to the public.
7:30 p.m. Friday, February 1
Ballard First Lutheran Church2006 Northwest 65th Street, Seattle, WA, 98117
Cheryse McLeod Lewis, mezzo-soprano; Ibidunni Ojikutu, soprano; Charles Wesley Evans, baritone; Joseph Williams, piano; Keith Thomas, cello
3. Seattle Rock Orchestra: The Beatles – Number Ones
Taking inspiration from the popular Beatles compilation album 1, Seattle Rock Orchestra celebrates the band’s broad swath of No. 1 hits that reigned on both the UK and US charts, along with their charming B-side companions (many of which are hits in their own right). Featuring the songs “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Eight Days A Week,” “Yesterday,” Penny Lane,” “Hey Jude,” “Something,” “Let It Be,” and many more.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 2
Kentwood Performing Arts Center, 25800 164th Avenue SE, Covington, WA 98042
Seattle Rock Orchestra; Kim Roy, music director and conductor