The New York Times has praised clarinetist Anthony McGill for “his trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character”; McGill’s musical charisma is a perfect match for Weber’s First Clarinet Concerto, which showcases the full range of the instrument. After intermission enjoy another gem for clarinet, the brief Rhapsody by Debussy — then listen for Debussy’s influence on an absolute icon: Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, a dramatic fairytale featuring a heroic prince, an evil sorcerer, and a powerful fire spirit. This fresh and thrilling concert opens with a world premiere commission by rising star composer Wang Jie, inspired by poet Su Dongpo’s reflections on China’s Mount Lu and her own experiences climbing Colorado’s Eldorado Canyon.
Wang Jie, Flying On the Scaly Backs of Our Mountains (world premiere commission)
Carl Maria von Weber, Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 73
Claude Debussy, Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra
Igor Stravinsky, Firebird Suite (1919)
- Among many other accolades, the talented Anthony McGill is the first African American Principal Clarinet in the history of the New York Philharmonic. Learn more about his role at the NY Phil, get the sense of a day in his life, watch his performance with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero at the 2009 inauguration, or experience a moving performance of his #TakeTwoKnees campaign for racial justice at Lincoln Center
- The fairytale behind Stravinsky’s Firebird: “The ballet is based on the Russian legend of the Firebird, a powerful good spirit whose feathers supposedly convey beauty and protection upon the earth. Other characters from Russian lore are also included: the heroic Prince Ivan Tsarevich and the evil sorcerer Kashchei, from whom Ivan must rescue the princess he loves. It is only through the intervention of the Firebird, whose life he spares early in the ballet, that Ivan is able to destroy Kashchei and his followers and marry the princess. The folk origins of the story inspired Stravinsky to borrow a few folk melodies in his score. Yet most of the ballet, especially the fluttering dance of the Firebird and the memorable wedding march at the ballet’s conclusion, was his own creation.” Read more and or hear a Firebird suite conducted by Peter Oundjian
- Get a sense of Wang Jie’s inventive style in this description from the New York Times: “The evening’s most vibrant, polished playing came in ‘From the Other Sky,’ a 15-minute chamber opera by Wang Jie, a young Chinese composer based in New York and a winner of the orchestra’s Underwood Commission. The work, an invented fable about how the Lark was ejected from the Chinese zodiac, set to clear, lucid and evocative music, was sung in English and staged with whimsical headdresses, choreography and PowerPoint animations.” Read more
- Learn more about clarinetist Anthony McGill’s artistic background, composer Wang Jie’s sources of inspiration, and the stories behind Stravinsky’s iconic Firebird in our expanded exploration of this concert.
- “Chinese is a language that mainly speaks through metaphors. So even if a poet is talking about a mountain, the poet is not talking about a mountain. The poet is talking about the mountains of life that all of us get to climb or not.” Watch or read our interview with composer Wang Jie