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Carnegie Hall Announces New Season

Published: January 21, 2009

Carnegie Hall said Wednesday that it would present a slimmed-down program next season because of the recession but would forge ahead with its parade of festivals, including a three-week survey of Chinese music and other performing arts.

In announcing its plans for the 2009-10 season, Carnegie also said the Kronos Quartet would present a Perspectives series; Louis Andriessen, the Netherlands’ leading composer, would be in residence; and clusters of concerts would center on late Haydn, the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth and the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.

Other musicians given special prominence will be the pianists Maurizio Pollini (with three Chopin programs) and Emanuel Ax; the conductor Valery Gergiev and the Maryinsky Orchestra, performing Berlioz’s “Roméo et Juliette” and “Troyens”; and the conductor Pierre Boulez, who will commemorate his 85th birthday by leading the Vienna Philharmonic, the Met Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony.

Like almost all arts institutions, Carnegie Hall has seen its endowment shrink and donations drop. Clive Gillinson, the hall’s president, said in an interview that he had cut costs by about $4 million this season to bring the budget to $76 million and keep it balanced. The endowment is down nearly 30 percent from $270 million at the end of June, about on a par with other institutions. Donations are off about 18 percent this season. Ticket sales are holding steady, he said.

The cuts include canceling several projects not previously announced, instituting a hiring freeze and ending the practice of giving dinners for the Met Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic, longtime visitors.

The number of events next season will drop about 10 percent, to 180, Mr. Gillinson said.

“What we’re launching is a smaller season than previous seasons in order to protect the future,” he said. “What we will never do is reduce quality.” He added at a news conference later, “If you looked at the program you would have no idea it had been reduced.”

In the last two years, Carnegie has organized festivals dedicated to Berlin, black American culture and Leonard Bernstein. Part of its strategy is to include other New York institutions in putting on the performances, as will happen here.

The focus on China is a recognition of the prominent role Chinese musicians have come to play in Western concert life and the growing presence of Western classical music in China.

“When you look at the world of the 21st century, China is going to be of absolute importance,” Mr. Gillinson said. “It has the most fascinating traditional culture. It has a really dynamic contemporary culture. China’s culture has had a tremendous influence all around the world.”

The festival, called “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices,” will run from Oct. 21 to Nov. 10 and include 30 events in places around New York as well as on Carnegie’s stages. Major figures in programming and performing are Wu Man, the pipa player; Lang Lang, the pianist; Tan Dun, the composer; and Long Yu, the conductor.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will perform the New York premiere of Angel Lam’s “Awakening From a Disappearing Garden,” with Robert Spano conducting and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma as soloist. The St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson will play what Carnegie called Chinese-influenced Western works, along with Bright Sheng’s “Colors of Crimson” and Tan Dun’s “Water Concerto.”

Mr. Tan’s music will also be spotlighted by the China Philharmonic and the Juilliard Orchestra, which will present the premiere of his Violin Concerto. Cho-Liang Lin will be soloist. The festival will offer marionette, dance, film and visual-arts events, and will include appearances in Southern California through a partnership with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, in Orange County.

The Kronos Quartet will join forces with Wu Man in one of the more intriguing events, giving the premiere of “Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home,” a multimedia work directed and staged by Chen Shi-Zheng.

The season opens with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under its music director, James Levine. The soloists will be the pianist Evgeny Kissin, in Chopin’s Concerto No. 2, and Ann Hobson Pilot, the orchestra’s principal harpist, in the New York premiere of a John Williams piece, “On Willows and Birches.”

The Berlin Philharmonic, led by Simon Rattle, will play all four Brahms symphonies over three concerts, juxtaposed with pieces by Arnold Schoenberg.

Daniel Barenboim will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in two concerts. Alan Gilbert, who takes over as music director of the New York Philharmonic next season, will bring the orchestra to Carnegie for the American premiere of the Clarinet Concerto by the Finn Magnus Lindberg. The soloist is Kari Kriikku, another Finn, who made a mark at the Mostly Mozart Festival last summer.

Still another Finn will be featured: Osmo Vanska, the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, which will perform Sibelius’s “Kullervo,” a symphonic poem for soprano, baritone and male choir.

John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and his Monteverdi Choir will present Haydn’s oratorios “The Seasons” and “The Creation.”

Frederica von Stade, the mezzo-soprano, will present her New York farewell concert on April 22.

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