The New York Philharmonic will begin a new season with a new conductor at its Opening Gala Concert on Tuesday, September 19th. The concert will comprise a single piece—Gustav Mahler’s hour-long Symphony No. 5—led by the orchestra’s new music director designate Jaap van Zweden.
This will not be Zweden’s first time conducting the Philharmonic. His first turn at the podium was in April 2012, when he led the ensemble in an impressive rendering of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring the guest pianist Yuja Wang, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 Titan. Most recently, Zweden helmed a November 2016 concert consisting of Richard Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin, the New York premiere of Julia Adolphe’s viola concerto Unearth, Release, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
The formidable Dutch conductor and violinist, who had previously served as the principle conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, is also currently the music director of the Dallas Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras. While he is expected to continue his post with the Hong Kong Philharmonic through 2022, Zweden will be released a year early from his contract with the Dallas Symphony, which had originally been extended through 2019, in order to take up his position at the New York Philharmonic.
To split the duties of his increased workload, Zweden will be joined by several guest conductors throughout the 2017/2018 season, including Paavo Järvi, András Schiff, Leonard Slatkin, composer-in-residence Esa-Pekka Salonen, and the orchestra’s former music director Alan Gilbert, who stepped down from his position with the New York Philharmonic at the end of the 2016/2017 season.
Highlights from the upcoming season will include “Bernstein’s Philharmonic,” an in-season festival celebrating the centennial of Leonard Bernstein, and the orchestra’s own 175th anniversary concert, featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Winds. This season’s featured soloists will include the violinist Joshua Bell, the piano duo Katia and Marielle Labèque, and the pianists Yuja Wang, Yefim Bronfman, and Emanuel Ax, among others. Esa-Pekka Salonen will also conclude his final season as the Marie-Josée Kravis composer-in-residence with the New York premieres of his 1998 concert opener Gambit and his 2005 tone poem Helix.
Change is certainly in the air at the New York Philharmonic. All should make for a diverse program and an exhilarating season at David Geffen Hall.