Elgar’s profoundly expressive Cello Concerto -- a signature work for the “extraordinary” (Chicago Tribune) Alisa Weilerstein -- is followed with one of the best-known works in classical music: Beethoven's Fifth.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
JOSHUA WEILERSTEIN, CONDUCTOR
ALISA WEILERSTEIN, CELLO
GEORGE WALKER: Lyric for Strings
ELGAR: Cello Concerto
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5
GEORGE WALKER: LYRIC FOR STRINGS
Lyric for Strings (1946)
GEORGE WALKER (B. 1922)
George Walker was the son of a Jamaican immigrant father who worked his way through Temple University Medical School to become a physician and a musical mother who introduced her son to the piano at age five. George gave his first public recital at Howard University when he was fourteen, and attended Oberlin College on a full scholarship; he graduated at age eighteen with highest honors in his class. Advanced study at the renowned Curtis Institute in Philadelphia followed and in 1945 he became the school’s first black graduate to receive Artist Diplomas in both piano and composition. Further piano study in France in 1947 helped prepare him for several years as a touring virtuoso in Europe and America. Walker taught at Dillard University in New Orleans in 1954-1955 before completing his doctoral degree after just one year at the Eastman School in Rochester, and was thereafter on the faculties of several noted colleges, conservatories and universities. He was honored with a Pulitzer Prize, induction into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, and seven honorary doctorates. Walker dedicated his soulful Lyric for Strings to the memory of his grandmother.
ELGAR: CELLO CONCERTO
Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 (1918-1919)
EDWARD ELGAR (1857-1934)
It seemed that Elgar’s world was crumbling in 1918. The four years of war had left him weary and numb. Many of his friends of German ancestry were put through a bad time in England during those years; others whom he knew were killed or maimed in action. The traditional foundations of the British political system were skewed by the rise of socialism directly after the war, and Elgar saw his beloved Edwardian world drawing to a close. His music seemed anachronistic, a remnant of stuffy conservatism, and his 70th birthday concert in Queen’s Hall attracted only half a house. The health of his wife began to fail, and with her passing in 1920, Elgar virtually stopped composing. The Cello Concerto, written just before his wife’s death, is Elgar’s last major work, and seems both to summarize his disillusion over the calamities of World War I and to presage the unhappiness of his last years.
The Concerto’s four movements only suggest traditional models in their epigrammatic concentration. The first is a ternary structure (A–B–A), commencing after an opening recitative. It is linked directly to following Allegro molto. It takes several tries before the movement is able to maintain its forward motion, but when it does, it proves to be a skittering, moto perpetuo display piece. The almost-motionless Adagio returns to the introspection of the opening movement. The finale, like the opening, is prefaced by a solo recitative. The rest of the movement’s form is based on the Classical rondo, and makes a valiant attempt at the “hail-and-well-met” vigor of Elgar’s earlier march music. Like the scherzando second movement, however, it seems more a recollection of past abilities than a display of remaining powers.
Toward the end, the stillness of the third movement creeps over the music, and the soloist indulges in an extended soliloquy. Brief bits of earlier movements are remembered before a final recall of the fast rondo music closes this thoughtful Concerto.
BEETHOVEN: SYMPHONY NO. 5
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 (1804-1808)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is the archetypal example of the technique and content of the form. Its overall structure is a carefully devised whole in which each of the movements serves to carry the work inexorably toward its end. The progression from minor to major, from dark to light, from conflict to resolution is at the heart of the “meaning” of this work. The psychological progression toward the finale — the relentless movement toward a life-affirming close — is one of Beethoven’s most important technical and emotional legacies, and it established for following generations the concept of how such a creation could be structured, and in what manner it should engage the listener.
The opening gesture establishes the stormy temper of the Allegro by presenting the germinal cell from which the entire movement grows. The gentler second theme derives from the opening motive, and gives only a brief respite in the headlong rush that hurtles through the movement. It provides the necessary contrast while doing nothing to impede the music’s flow. The development is a paragon of cohesion, logic and concision. The recapitulation begins after a series of breathless chords that pass from woodwinds to strings and back.
The second movement is a set of variations on two contrasting themes. The first theme, presented by violas and cellos, is sweet and lyrical in nature; the second, heard in horns and trumpets, is heroic. The ensuing variations on the themes alternate to produce a movement by turns gentle and majestic.
The Scherzo returns the tempestuous character of the opening movement, as the four-note motto from the first movement is heard again in a brazen setting led by the horns. The fughetta, the “little fugue,” of the central trio is initiated by the cellos and basses. The Scherzo returns with the mysterious tread of the plucked strings. Then begins another accumulation of intensity as a bridge to the finale.
The closing movement is jubilant and martial. The sonata form proceeds apace. At the apex of the development, however, the mysterious end of the Scherzo is invoked to serve as the link to the return of the main theme in the recapitulation. The closing pages repeat the cadence chords extensively as a way of discharging the work’s enormous accumulated energy.
Joshua Weilerstein's clarity of musical expression, unforced manner and deep natural musicianship connects him with orchestras and has led him to conduct extensively in both Europe and America.
In performances marked by intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets, the American cellist has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice.
Joshua Weilerstein is the Artistic Director of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. His clarity of musical expression, unforced manner and deep natural musicianship connects him with orchestras and has led him to conduct extensively in both Europe and America. His enthusiasm for a wide range of repertoire is combined with an ambition to bring new audiences to the concert hall.
In the 2017/18 season, Weilerstein makes his debut with the Bamberg Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, and West Australian Symphony Orchestra. He returns to the Milwaukee Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in both a subscription week and a tour to the west coast. In Europe, he will work with the Oslo Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Netherlands Philharmonic. On tour with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and Juan Diego Florez, he will give performances in Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Amsterdam. He also returns to Australia to conduct the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
In July 2017, Weilerstein made his debut at the BBC Proms at London's Royal Festival Hall conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra with his sister, Alisa Weilerstein, as soloist. He made his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist in May 2017.
Joshua Weilerstein's career was launched after winning both the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen. He then completed a three-year appointment as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Since then, he has steadily gained a growing profile in North America and abroad, including recent guest conducting engagements with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, North Carolina, San Diego, Calgary, Québec, and Vancouver; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Aspen Music Festival, among others. In Europe, he has established a number of strong relationships, for example with the Oslo Philharmonic - where he returns each season, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm Philharmonic, and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Elsewhere in Europe and the UK, he has conducted the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, SWR Stuttgart, NDR Hannover, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, BBC Symphony, London Phiharmonic, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Weilerstein believes passionately in programming both traditional and contemporary repertoire and endeavors to include, whenever possible, at least one piece by a living composer in each of his programs. He is committed to music education both on and off the podium and hosts a successful podcast, Sticky Notes, for music lovers and casual listeners alike. Weilerstein was actively involved in Young People's Concerts during his time as the Assistant Conductor with the New York Philharmonic, and served as Concertmaster of Discovery Ensemble, a Boston-based chamber orchestra dedicated to presenting classical music to inner-city schools in Boston. With the Orchestre Chamber de Lausanne, Weilerstein is deeply committed to the educational and Discovery series of concerts for children and families.
Joshua Weilerstein feels that it is essential to have an open communication between the stage and audience and is always excited to hear from musicians and audiences alike. He is accessible on social media for conversations about the future of classical music, programming, and the experience of concert-going.
Photo: Felix Broede
“A young cellist whose emotionally resonant performances of both traditional and contemporary music have earned her international recognition, … Weilerstein is a consummate performer, combining technical precision with impassioned musicianship.” So stated the MacArthur Foundation when awarding Alisa Weilerstein a 2011 MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship, prompting the New York Times to respond: “Any fellowship that recognizes the vibrancy of an idealistic musician like Ms. Weilerstein … deserves a salute from everyone in classical music.” In performances marked by intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets, the American cellist has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice. An exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics since 2010, she is the first cellist to be signed by the prestigious label in more than 30 years.
Weilerstein releases her fifth album on Decca in September 2016, playing Shostakovich’s two cello concertos with the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Pablo Heras-Casado, in performances recorded live last season. Her 2016-17 season also includes, for the first time in her career, performances of Bach’s complete suites for unaccompanied cello: at Caramoor, in Washington, DC, New York and in London. In January she embarks on a nine-city U.S. tour with longtime recital partner Inon Barnatan and clarinetist Anthony McGill, including a performance at New York’s Lincoln Center in Alice Tully Hall. The trio’s tour will include the world premiere of a piece written by Joseph Hallman specifically for this ensemble. She tours Europe with Barnatan later in the spring, with performances in Salzburg and a return to Wigmore Hall in London. Her busy international concert schedule this season features performances around the globe: she performs Britten’s Cello Symphony with the New World Symphony; Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic, and the National Symphony in both Washington, DC and Moscow; Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony; Schumann with the San Francisco Symphony, and at Carnegie Hall in the company of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with which she then tours the same program to Italy and Spain; Elgar with the Staatskapelle Weimar; Walton with Amsterdam’s Residentie Orkest; and Dvořák with the Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, and the Tokyo Symphony on a three-stop tour of Japan, where she will also play four solo recitals. The cellist also performs Henri Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain… with Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra, and gives the world premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s Cello Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which co-commissioned the piece for her.
The 2015-16 season saw Weilerstein give the world premiere of another new concerto commissioned expressly for her from a major European composer, Pascal Dusapin’s Outscape, which she performed with the co-commissioning Chicago Symphony before giving its first European performances with the Stuttgart and Paris Opera Orchestras. Other concerto performances included Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertantewith the Czech Philharmonic; Elgar with the London Symphony; Schumann with the Orchestre de Paris; Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain…with Hamburg’s NDR Symphony and the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Hindemith with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony; Tchaikovsky with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Haydn with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; and Barber with the National Symphony in Washington, DC. Weilerstein made her Lucerne Festival Debut this past spring, playing the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Bernard Haitink. In the summer of 2016, she gave the BBC Proms premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s Reflections of Narcissus to rave reviews, with Pintscher himself conducting. Following the October release of their duo album debut on Decca with sonatas by Chopin and Rachmaninoff, Weilerstein reunited with Inon Barnatan for tours of the U.S. and of seven European capitals, including a return to London’s Wigmore Hall.
For her first album on the Decca label, Weilerstein recorded the Elgar and Elliott Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin. The disc was named “Recording of the Year 2013” by BBC Music, which featured the cellist on the cover of its May 2014 issue. Her second Decca release, on which she plays Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic, topped the U.S. classical chart, while her third, a compilation of unaccompanied 20th-century cello music titled Solo, was pronounced an “uncompromising and pertinent portrait of the cello repertoire of our time” (ResMusica, France). Solo’s centerpiece is the Kodály sonata, a signature work that Weilerstein revisits on the soundtrack of If I Stay, a 2014 feature film starring Chloë Grace Moretz in which the cellist makes a cameo appearance as herself.
Weilerstein has appeared with all the foremost orchestras of the United States and Europe, collaborating with conductors including Marin Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Giancarlo Guerrero, Manfred Honeck, Marek Janowski, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Jeffrey Kahane, Lorin Maazel, Cristian Măcelaru, Zubin Mehta, Ludovic Morlot, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundjian, Matthias Pintscher, Donald Runnicles, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jaap van Zweden, Osmo Vänskä, Simone Young and David Zinman. Her major career milestones include an emotionally tumultuous account of Elgar’s concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim in Oxford, England, for the orchestra’s 2010 European Concert, which was televised live to an audience of millions worldwide and subsequently released on DVD by EuroArts. She and Barenboim reunited in 2012-13 to play Elliott Carter’s concerto on a German tour with the Berlin Staatskapelle. In 2009, she was one of four artists invited by Michelle Obama to participate in a widely celebrated and high profile classical music event at the White House, featuring student workshops hosted by the First Lady, and performances in front of an audience that included President Obama and the First Family. A month later, Weilerstein toured Venezuela as soloist with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel. She has since made numerous return visits to teach and perform with the orchestra as part of its famed El Sistema music education program. Other highlights of recent seasons include her debut at the BBC Proms in 2010, and with England’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, which she joined in 2013 for a 16-city U.S. tour.
Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Weilerstein is an ardent champion of new music. She gave the New York premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s Reflections on Narcissus under the composer’s own direction during the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural 2014 Biennial, and has worked extensively with Osvaldo Golijov, who rewrote Azul for cello and orchestra (originally premiered by Yo-Yo Ma) for her New York premiere performance at the opening of the 2007 Mostly Mozart Festival. Weilerstein has since played the work with orchestras around the world, besides frequently programming the Argentinean composer’s Omaramor for solo cello. At the 2008 Caramoor festival, she gave the world premiere of Lera Auerbach’s 24 Preludes for Violoncello and Piano with the composer at the keyboard, and the two have subsequently reprised the work at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Kennedy Center, and for San Francisco Performances. Joseph Hallman, a 2014 Grammy Award nominee, has also written multiple works for Weilerstein, including a cello concerto that she premiered with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in 2008, and a trio that she premieres on tour with Barnatan and clarinetist Anthony McGill in the spring of 2017.
Weilerstein has appeared at major music festivals throughout the world, including Aspen, Bad Kissingen, Delft, Edinburgh, Jerusalem Chamber Music, La Jolla SummerFest, Mostly Mozart, Salzburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Tanglewood, and Verbier. In addition to her appearances as a soloist and recitalist, Weilerstein performs regularly as a chamber musician. She has been part of a core group of musicians at the Spoleto Festival USA for the past eight years and also performs with her parents, Donald and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, as the Weilerstein Trio, the trio-in-residence at Boston’s New England Conservatory.
The cellist is the winner of both Lincoln Center’s 2008 Martin E. Segal prize for exceptional achievement and the 2006 Leonard Bernstein Award. She received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2000 and was selected for two prestigious young artists programs in the 2000-01 season: the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organization) “Rising Stars” recital series and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two.
Born in 1982, Weilerstein discovered her love for the cello at just two and a half, when her grandmother assembled a makeshift set of instruments from cereal boxes to entertain her while she was ill with chicken pox. Although immediately drawn to the Rice Krispies box cello, Weilerstein soon grew frustrated that it didn’t produce any sound. After persuading her parents to buy her a real cello at the age of four, she developed a natural affinity for the instrument and gave her first public performance six months later. At 13, in October 1995, she played Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo” Variations for her Cleveland Orchestra debut, and in March 1997 she made her first Carnegie Hall appearance with the New York Youth Symphony. A graduate of the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Richard Weiss, the cellist also holds a degree in history from Columbia University, from which she graduated in May 2004. In November 2008, Weilerstein, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, became a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Photo: Decca/Harald Hoffman
Need help planning your visit to the Vail Valley? We've got you covered- from travel recommendations, to lodging and dining options, we want your entire visit to be top notch.LEARN MORE
Where are the orchestra concert performances held?
Bravo! Vail orchestral concerts take place at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (GRFA) located at 530 S. Frontage Rd E Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM (except for the movie screening which starts at 7:30PM). The GRFA lobby opens 90 minutes prior and gates open 60 minutes prior to performances. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get into the venue. Latecomers will be escorted by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park?
FREE concert parking is available at the Vail Parking Structure (241 South Frontage Road East, Vail) and the Lionshead Parking Structure (395 South Frontage Road West, Vail). A Town of Vail Special Event express bus provides continuous service from both parking structures to the GRFA before and after concerts. Limited $10 parking is available at Ford Park by the Tennis Center (500 South Frontage Rd). Additional $10 parking is available at the Vail Athletic/Soccer Field lot.
WALKING DIRECTIONS FROM THE VAIL VILLAGE PARKING STRUCTURE:
Via Gore Creek Trail: 15-minute scenic walk
1. Exit the parking garage by following the Pedestrian Exit signs towards “Vail Village” / “Golden Peak”
2. Turn left out of the parking garage onto East Meadow Drive and head east
3. At the end of the road turn right on Vail Valley Drive and cross the road
4. Turn left on the walking path before the bridge, following the street signs towards "Ford Park"
5. Continuing east, follow the walking path along Gore Creek until reaching the GRFA
Via Frontage Road: 15-minute walk
1. From the top level of the parking garage, exit onto the South Frontage Road
2. Turn right and follow the sidewalk east along the south side of the frontage road
3. Cross East Meadow Drive and continue east along the sidewalk
4. Turn right after passing The Wren at Vail on the right
5. Continue down the path down to the GRFA
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 2 hours including intermission. Please call the box office 877.812.5700 for exact running times.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone: 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover credit cards, cash, and checks. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email,or may be picked up at the Box Office.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater box office is open from 11AM until concert start time (5PM on days with no concerts) during the Festival. Tickets for upcoming performances may be purchased on-site at the GRFA before concerts and during intermission.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up at the Box Office located to the right of the main GRFA entrance lobby. The Box Office is open 11AM to concert start time during the Festival.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
Tickets are non-refundable. You may exchange your tickets ($7 fee per ticket) by calling the Box Office at 877.812.5700 up to 2 days before the concert. You may release your tickets or leave them for a friend at Will Call by calling the Box Office.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets at the Will Call window.
Where are seating options for people with disabilities?
Per the American Disability Act (ADA), the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA seating is available in Section 1 Row L and Section 4 Row O in all reserved seating zones and prices (Premium Aisle, Premium, Reserved, and Saver). A limited number of ADA General Admission Lawn seats are available for sale behind Section 2. You must have a designated ADA lawn seat ticket to sit in this area. By purchasing an ADA seat, you are stating that you require an ADA seat. If purchased fraudulently, you may be subject to relocation. If you need assistance purchasing ADA seating, please call the Box Office at 877.812.5700.
What if it rains?
Concerts take place rain or shine. The GRFA is an open-air venue. Refunds are not given due to weather unless a concert is canceled in its entirety with no performance rescheduled.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts. Please be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures.
What should I bring to the concert?
If you will be on the lawn, a blanket, sunglasses, and a hat are recommended. If rain is predicted, please bring appropriate rain gear. Food, commercially sealed non-alcoholic beverages, low-profile lawn chairs, and umbrellas are permitted at concerts. All backpacks, bags, purses, picnic baskets, and coolers will be checked upon entry.
The following articles are not allowed at the venue: cameras, audio/video recording devices, standard-height lawn chairs, baby strollers, alcoholic beverages, firearms, pets, smoking, skateboards, bicycles, scooters, and skates.
What food and beverages are available for purchase at the GRFA?
Concessions are offered for purchase inside the venue. Menu items include snacks, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. A full bar is also available. All major credit cards and cash are accepted for payment. If you have a pavilion seat, please eat prior to the concert or at intermission.
Are lawn chairs available to rent?
Low-profile lawn chairs are available at the GRFA to rent for $10. You may also rent a lawn chair with your lawn ticket purchase online or by calling the Bravo! Vail Box Office at 877.812.5700. To reserve a lawn chair in advance, please email email@example.com
What are some general rules of concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. In the pavilion seating, we recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What else should I know?
Vail’s high elevation requires adequate hydration and sun protection. Visitors from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Check with the GRFA box office for lost items at intermission or call 970.748.8497.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).