Founder and Artistic Director Thomas Crawford leads the American Classical Orchestra in its final concert this season on Thursday, May 18, at Alice Tully Hall: an evening of Romantic music by Rossini, Schumann, Sarasate, and Grieg, played on period instruments. The program features Filipino-American baritone Enrico Lagasca, critically acclaimed for his role as Daedalus in the U.S. premiere of Jonathan Dove’s opera The Monster in the Maze, and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient violinist Rachell Ellen Wong. The program will begin with a brief presentation by Thomas Crawford describing the program.
Thursday, May 18, 2023, at 8 pm, Alice Tully Hall
Rachell Ellen Wong, violin
Enrico Lagasca, bass-baritone
Rossini: William Tell Overture
Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38 “Spring Symphony”
Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25
Grieg: The Mountain Thrall, Op. 32
Rossini’s William Tell Overture was inspired by German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s 1804 drama about the 14th century Swiss patriot William Tell, and premiered in Paris in 1829 as the intro to the last of the composer’s 39 operas. Its rousing spirit later propelled it to renown as the theme music for TV and radio’s popular Lone Ranger series. Written in 1841, Schumann’s Spring Symphony may have been inspired by Adolph Böttger’s poem Frühlings-und Liebesmelodien (Melodies of Spring and Love). Accordingly, the opening brass fanfare seems to herald the first days of spring. Spanish composer and violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate’s popular Carmen Fantasy, based on Bizet’s opera, stands as a testament to his prodigious skills. It will be performed on period violin by the internationally acclaimed artist Rachell Ellen Wong, recipient of the prestigious 2020 Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a founding member of the NYC-based New Amsterdam Concert, a period-instrument string ensemble specializing in music from the Renaissance to the High Baroque. The program concludes with Grieg’s The Mountain Thrall (Den Bergtekne) featuring bass- baritone Enrico Lagasca, whose 2022-23 season includes an appearance in Tyshawn Sorey’s Monochromatic Light (afterlight) directed by Peter Sellers at the Park Avenue Armory. The work—the composer’s longest orchestral song—is based on an old Norse poem about a man who, while lost in the mountains, is lured to his death by the Erl-King’s daughter. Like much of Grieg’s opus, this work is deeply infused with the folk-music of his Norwegian homeland.
Tickets, priced at $75, $55, and $35 are available at aconyc.org or by calling ACO at 212.362.2727, ext. 4. Ticket holders will need to comply with the venue’s health and safety requirements, which can be found here.
About Thomas Crawford
The American Classical Orchestra’s Artistic Director and Founder Thomas Crawford is a champion of historically accurate performance styles in Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic music. He founded two Connecticut orchestras: the Fairfield Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy, the period instrument offshoot of the Fairfield Orchestra, renamed the American Classical Orchestra in 1999. With the Fairfield Orchestra, Crawford commissioned numerous works by composers, including John Corigliano and William Thomas McKinley, and collaborated with artists such as Joshua Bell, John Corigliano, Vladimir Feltsman, Richard Goode, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, André Watts, and Dawn Upshaw. He also conducted the world premiere of Keith Jarrett’s Bridge of Light at Alice Tully Hall, subsequently recorded on the ECM label. An accomplished composer, organist, and choirmaster, Crawford won the prestigious BMI composition award for his organ work Ashes of Rose, which premiered at the American Guild of Organists. A passionate activist determined to bring the beauty of period music to a wider audience, Mr. Crawford received a Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth award from the National Endowment for the Arts, in recognition of the ACO’s dynamic music outreach to New York City schoolchildren. A Pennsylvania native, he holds degrees in organ performance and composition from the Eastman School of Music and Columbia University
About American Classical Orchestra
Founded in 1984 as the Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy, the ensemble was renamed the American Classical Orchestra in 1999. Founder and Artistic Director Thomas Crawford established its new and permanent home in New York City in 2005. It is now the City’s only full-scale orchestra dedicated to performing 17th, 18th, and 19th century music on period instruments. Described as “simply splendid” by The New York Times, ACO players are the foremost in their field, consisting of artists who also perform with such major ensembles as Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Handel and Haydn Society, and the New York Philharmonic. Its principal players are Faculty members at The Juilliard School, and the ACO works closely with students enrolled in the School’s Historical Performance Program. The American Classical Orchestra Chorus, comprised of professional vocalists from the New York metro area, joins ACO for larger productions. By playing music on original instruments and using historic performance techniques, ACO strives to recreate the sounds that audiences would have heard when the music was first written and performed. The Orchestra and its “supremely skilled musicians” (Theater Scene) have won critical praise for its recordings, educational programs, and concerts, including appearances at Alice Tully Hall and in Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and for a sold-out 25th anniversary performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
For more information, visit aconyc.org.