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Tomas Cohen Photography


Alsop conducts Rachmaninoff with Yunchan Lim

New York Philharmonic
Orchestral Series
Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at 6pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

Trailblazing conductor Marin Alsop concludes Bravo! Vail’s Orchestral Series reprising 19-year-old Yunchan Lim’s legendary, Gold medal-winning performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, with Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite.

The New York Philharmonic returns to Bravo! Vail for its annual summer residency, performing works both fresh and familiar with its signature brilliance and power.

All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.​

Program Details

Marin Alsop, conductor
Yunchan Lim, piano
Edward J. Blieszner, special guest conductor

SOUSA “The Stars and Stripes Forever”
PROKOFIEV Romeo & Juliet Suite
RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3

PRE-CONCERT TALK 5:00PM - Gabryel Smith (New York Philharmonic Director of Archives and Exhibits), speaker in the Gerald R Ford Amphitheater Lobby. 

Guest Artists

Marin Alsop


Yunchan Lim


Program Notes

The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896)

(4 minutes)


The Stars and Stripes Forever (arr. K. Brionand L. Schissel) 


The son of a trombonist in the U.S. Marine Band, John Philip Sousa was named an apprentice member of that ensemble when he was 13; his father had engineered it to keep him from running off with a circus band. He became the band’s director in 1880, at the age of only 25, and spent the next 12 years at its helm. In 1892, he left to form his own “Sousa’s Band,” taking along the Marine Band’s manager, David Blakely. They achieved sensational success, even making an around-the-world tour in 1910-11.

Sousa wrote that the inspiration for The Stars and Stripes Forever came during a transatlantic ocean crossing. Vacationing in Europe, he received word of Blakely’s death. He immediately booked his return on the S.S. Teutonic, where he found himself pacing the deck “absorbed in thoughts of my manager’s death and the many duties and decisions which awaited me in New York.” “Suddenly,” he continued, “I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distant melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed.” He committed the piece to paper on December 25, 1896, and five months later he unveiled it in Philadelphia as The Stars and Stripes Forever. Reviewing the premiere, the Public Ledger (Philadelphia) gushed, “it is stirring enough to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis.”

Romeo and Juliet Suite (1935-36)

(45 minutes)


Romeo and Juliet Suite 
     The Montagues and The Capulets
     Morning Dance
     Young Juliet
     Friar Laurence
     Death of Tybalt
     Dance of the Girls with the Lilies
     Romeo at Juliet’s Tomb [attacca]
     Juliet’s Death


Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet is one of the finest dance scores of all time, its memorable themes so filled with movement that they seem the very embodiment of the dance. And yet, the dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet, preparing for a Russian premiere that would be repeatedly delayed, complained bitterly about Prokofiev’s score, dismissing it as undanceable.

Romeo and Juliet was a joint project of Prokofiev and Sergei Radlov, a modernist director noted for daring productions of Shakespeare, including, in 1934, a Russian staging of Romeo and Juliet. In 1935, he crafted a ballet scenario based on Shakespeare’s play about Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, the idealistic young lovers whose relationship is doomed by the animosity of their feuding families.

When the work was completed, the Russian dancers objected so stridently that the work received its premiere staging not in that country but rather in Brno, Czechoslovakia (now Czechia), at the end of 1938; it would not be seen in Russia until 1940, when the Kirov Ballet gave it in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and it didn’t reach Moscow until 1946, when the Bolshoi finally found it danceable after all. While waiting for the ballet to be staged, Prokofiev had selections of the music premiered in two concert suites, in 1936 and 1937, and he followed up with a third suite in 1946. Marin Alsop has assembled 12 numbers from the three suites into a sequence that more-or-less reflects their order in the ballet, illustrating many of the work’s essential plot points: the grandeur of the feuding families, the innocence of young Juliet and the kindness of Friar Laurence, the violence that leads to the killing of Tybalt (Juliet’s hot-tempered cousin and Romeo’s rival), and the young lovers’ misjudged scheme to rise above it all.


(18 minutes)

Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (1909)

(44 minutes)


Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
     Allegro ma non tanto
     Intermezzo. Allegro
     Finale. Alla breve


Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, composed in 1909, has earned a reputation as one of the most technically daunting of all the standard piano concertos. Rachmaninoff maintained that it was “more comfortable” to play than his Second. Perhaps it was more comfortable for him because his hands individually spanned the interval of a thirteenth and his keyboard stamina was almost limitless, but it was not more comfortable for most other pianists. It was even out of reach for the renowned Josef Hofman, to whom Rachmaninoff dedicated this score; Hofman had considerably smaller hands, and as a result he never performed this work that bears his name at the top of its first page.

Rachmaninoff composed it for his North American debut tour, which he undertook with trepidation since he had devoted the preceding three years to composing rather than performing. Nonetheless, he did not stint in crafting this work to capitalize on dizzying keyboard skills, and his ever-increasing experience as a composer yielded a work in which the solo and orchestral parts are melded with remarkable sophistication. Following the premiere that November, with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Symphony Society (it would merge with the New York Philharmonic in 1928), the critics were cool but the audience was delighted. The New York Herald reported: “Mr. Rachmaninoff was recalled several times in the determined effort of the audience to make him play again, but he held up his hands with a gesture which meant that although he was willing, his fingers were not.” Later in the same tour he played the piece again in New York, this time with the New York Philharmonic conducted by its then music director Gustav Mahler, who extended the rehearsal by an hour to do the piece justice.

The New York Philharmonic returns to Bravo! Vail in 2023 for its 20th annual summer residency, performing works both fresh and familiar with its signature brilliance and power.

All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.

Presented at

Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater