Mallwitz and Nézet-Séguin Champion
Weill’s Second Symphony
On Respective Sides of the Atlantic 

Weill’s second symphony, Fantaisie Symphonique, has attracted a dramatic surge of attention. Critical praise greeted the three commercial recordings released in a recent span of nineteen months and the frequency of the work’s performances has jumped to levels not seen previously. As if to emphasize that point, two world-class conductors led performances in the U.S. and Europe within a span of ten days in January and early February.

Joana Mallwitz is completely absorbed in the music; it is reflected in her body and her exacting gestures that demand precision and flexibility in equal measure,” wrote Karin Coper for Klassik of the early February performance with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Even in her first year as Music Director, Joana Mallwitz has already shown herself to be a major Weill interpreter and advocate. Her season-opening performance of Weill’s first symphony, Symphonie in einem Satz, was similarly lauded as exemplary.

Ten days earlier in New York City, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra ensured a rousing start to Carnegie Hall’s Weimar festival with a performance of Weill’s symphony that nearly leaped off the stage. Nézet-Séguin has championed the work for almost two decades, including past performances with the Philadelphians. His energetic command of the piece was brilliantly evident in a “bracing and full-throated” interpretation that “made your hair stand on end in the moment,” as described by Bachtrack’s Cameron Kelsall. This Carnegie performance is available to stream on demand through the website of WQXR.

Photo Credits: Enno Kapitza (Mallwitz), David Boily (Nézet-Séguin)

International Roster of Rising Artists
Advanced to Semifinal Round in
2024 Lenya Competition

Prominent music director Andy Einhorn and
charismatic soprano Harolyn Blackwell
named as semifinal coach-adjudicators.

Left to Right/Top to Bottom: Shavon Lloyd, Kaileigh Riess, Logan Wagner, Joseph Sacchi, Christian Mark Gibbs, Rachel Weinfeld, Kendra Dyck, Ana Karneža, Ta’Nika Gibson, Tristan Tournaud, Queen Hezumuryango, Jason Zacher, Nayeli Abrego, Prentiss Mouton, Schyler Vargas, Jessica Mills, Francesca Mehrotra, Hugo Kampschreur, Rebekah Howell, Matthew Amira

The Kurt Weill Foundation has named the twenty rising singer-actors who have advanced to the Competition’s semifinal round. Foundation President and CEO and founder of the Competition Kim H. Kowalke extolled the extraordinary level of performances by this group of semifinalists: “The judges of the preliminary round of 286 video submissions awarded an unprecedented number of high ratings for this polished, and very diverse, group of performers, many of whom already have launched professional careers.” The Foundation has simultaneously named Andy Einhorn and Harolyn Blackwell as the artists who will serve in the Competition’s unique coach-adjudicator semifinal role.

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Rufus Wainwright
Continues His Exploration of Kurt Weill,
with Pacific Jazz Orchestra

Rufus Wainwright’s lifelong connection to Kurt Weill’s music entered a new phase in May 2023. The Café Carlyle in New York City was the venue for a series of voice-and-piano shows that the kaleidoscopically talented vocalist, songwriter, and opera composer devoted almost entirely to Weill songs. The audience reaction was ecstatic. On 2 March (coincidentally, Weill’s 124th birthday) in Los Angeles, Wainwright takes the next step in his exploration of the Weill catalog. The Pacific Jazz Orchestra will partner with him to present more than a dozen songs, in new arrangements by PJO Artistic Director Chris Walden. Included will be works both iconic and less-known from throughout Weill’s career, from “Die Muschel von Margate” through “Je ne t’aime pas” to “Lost in the Stars.”

See here for more information.

Featured Upcoming Events

29 February – Symphonie in einem Satz (Symphony no. 1)
Carnegie Hall (The Knights with Eric Jacobsen, conductor)

Composed in 1921 but not premiered until after Weill’s death, the first symphony has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Now it is being taken up by The Knights, a musically omnivorous chamber ensemble self-described as a “fellowship of adventurous musicians dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience.” The program also includes an arrangement of “Alabama-Song” by the Knights’ own multifaceted violinist and singer-songwriter Christina Courtin.5 March – Four Walt Whitman Songs
Carnegie Hall (Justin Austin, Baritone; Howard Watkins, Piano)

Four Walt Whitman Songs, Weill’s setting of war poems begun soon after the outbreak of World War Two, figures in this carefully crafted program by rising star and “mellifluous baritone” Justin Austin. The artist writes of his recital, titled “Don’t Be Angry”: “Many musical performances provide escapism for people who want to temporarily forget about the problems of the world. I think that’s wonderful! My recital will not be one of those performances.”

11 March – Die sieben Todsünden
Alte Oper Frankfurt (Ensemble Modern with HK Gruber, conductor; Wallis Giunta, mezzo-soprano; amarcord, vocal ensemble)

In a dream team line-up previewing the performance at Carnegie Hall on 12 April, the long-established Weill partnership between HK Gruber and Ensemble Modern is augmented by Wallis Giunta, proven many times over as one of the great interpreters of The Seven Deadly Sins. Vocal ensemble amarcord joins for this performance of the new fifteen-player version of the work prepared by Gruber and Christian Muthspiel. 

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