For as long as I can remember, the classical-music world has been pining for fresh audiences and musing anxiously about its own extinction. The last two years of pause, protest, and epiphany have finally jolted the Establishment into action; if it were a therapy patient, I’d say it experienced a breakthrough. Black and women composers are getting long-deferred exposure. Musicians are telling their own stories through tailor-made multimedia performances. Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic are reopening David Geffen Hall after a top-to-bottom renovation that aims to make it an all-day attraction and civic space. The 92nd Street Y discovered it had a global audience for virtual events and rebranded itself as an intensely local organization: 92NY.
Some of that reinventive energy may dissipate in misconceived or drably political projects. Much of it builds on the work that doggedly innovative presenters and musicians have been doing for decades. For the sincere and resourceful, challenges remain high, as do ticket prices (though many organizations are hunting for ways to sell cheap seats). Mask requirements, or lack thereof, may alienate audiences. Opera remains frighteningly expensive and arduous to sell. And yet there’s been a change in the conventional wisdom — a shift from tentativeness to vigorous optimism, and an embrace of dizzying variety. New York’s joyous sonic jangle is back.
Church of the Intercession, September 12
The Crypt Sessions in upper Manhattan gets the new season started with a literally underground recital by pianist Inna Faliks, pairing Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit with new Ravel-inspired works by Paola Prestini, Billy Childs, and Timo Andres.
Roulette, September 14
The Wet Ink Ensemble teams up with septet Orlando Furioso to present the premiere of the gifted composer Kate Soper’s latest satirical stage work, in which a new music group that resembles Wet Ink wanders Orpheus-like into the Underworld and tries to perform its way out.
Momenta Festival VII
Broadway Presbyterian Church, September 15–18
Postponed from June, the Momenta Quartet’s annual chamber bash starts with a work by the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, then launches into four days of world premieres.
A God of Her Own Making
National Sawdust, September 23
Healer and performance artist Jojo Abot and jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding collaborate on a two-woman opera.
Metropolitan Opera, September 27–October 28
The Met opens its season with a 225-year-old work that’s new to its repertoire. Like the soprano in a drawn-out tragic finale, Cherubini’s opera has died several deaths, starting right after its premiere in 1797. Maria Callas was the title character’s most celebrated resuscitator in the 1950s; now, Sondra Radvanovsky takes a crack at the role in a new production by David McVicar.
Monochromatic Light (Afterlife)
Park Avenue Armory, September 27–October 8
Rothko Chapel — a real chapel, decorated with work by Mark Rothko — opened in Houston in 1971. One year later, Morton Feldman celebrated it with a composition. Now, 50 years after that, Tyshawn Sorey has composed and performed a new work to honor both. Sorey’s score arrives in New York as a staged piece directed by Peter Sellars with artwork by Julie Mehretu and choreography by Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray.
Metropolitan Opera, September 28–October 20
Conductor Manfred Honeck makes his company debut with tenor Michael Spyres, mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, and sopranos Ying Fang and Federica Lombardi.
New York Festival of Song
Merkin Hall, Kaufman Music Center, September 28
The never-ending “festival” is really a doughty and constantly changing ensemble of singers marshaled and accompanied by Steven Blier at the piano. These paladins of the art song launch their season with a concert about heroes, as glorified in the music of Gluck, Schubert, Bernstein, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and others.
Composer Portrait: Liza Lim
Miller Theatre, Columbia University, September 29
The JACK Quartet performs new music by the Australian composer.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Metropolitan Opera, September 29–October 21
Soprano Svetlana Sozdateleva and tenor Brandon Jovanovich star in Shostakovich’s grimly incandescent opera. Conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson makes her Met debut.
Carnegie Hall, September 29
Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra opens the season for the second year in a row, this time joined by pianist Daniil Trifonov.
San Juan Hill: A New York Story
David Geffen Hall, October 8
Lincoln Center was constructed on the rubble of a large, dense, multiethnic neighborhood once known as San Juan Hill. The jazz trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles evokes that vanished swath of Manhattan in a new work commissioned by Lincoln Center for the New York Philharmonic to inaugurate the renovated David Geffen Hall.
NY Phil Returns Home
David Geffen Hall, October 12
Getting back to the workplace has been a complicated affair for millions, but the New York Philharmonic’s musicians have had a longer exile than most. David Geffen Hall, gutted and rebuilt during the pandemic closure, welcomes them back in a blaze of music by Tania León, Marcos Balter, John Adams, and Ottorino Respighi, conducted by music director Jaap van Zweden.
BAM, October 12–15
Performing in public involves a strange mix of the confessional and the reticent; classical musicians may bare their souls, but they tend to stay silent about who they are. Now, bass-baritone Davóne Tines and violinist Jennifer Koh blend performance, visual projection, and autobiography in a new stage work composed by Ken Ueno and directed by Alexander Gedeon.
Carnegie Hall, October 13
The chamber orchestra performs new works by Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, and Xavier Foley, as well as music by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Simon, and Beethoven.
Give Voice: Voces8
Merkin Hall, Kaufman Music Center, October 13
In a format that resembles the American collegiate a cappella ensemble, the British group performs an eclectic and irreverent set of choral dances, from William Byrd to Van Morrison.
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Carnegie Hall, October 14
Marin Alsop conducts the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut in a program heavy on music by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi
Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, October 15
Giddens, the banjo and fiddle player, singer, and composer who is a Carnegie Hall resident artist for the 2022–23 season, performs songs — new, traditional, refined, and vernacular — accompanied by her piano- and percussion-playing partner, Turrisi.
Carnegie Hall, October 16
Fingers ablur, notes precise, Pollini has spent decades playing with an almost spiritual reverence for precision and speed. In his ultranimble hands, you feel the sun glinting off Schumann and sense the gear works in Chopin. At 80, Pollini returns to Carnegie Hall after an absence of more than three years.
Metropolitan Opera, October 16–November 12
Benjamin Britten’s opera about justice and ostracism in a fishing village returns with tenor Allan Clayton in the title role.
Carnegie Hall, October 18
The constantly self-challenging pianist performs all 24 of Shostakovich’s Preludes & Fugues.
The Natural Order
Zankel Hall, October 20
A nature-themed program by the American Composers Orchestra including Mark Adamo’s Last Year, a climate-change-era elaboration of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. With Attacca Quartet, Sandbox Percussion, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, conducted by Mei-Ann Chen.
The Sound of Home
David Geffen Hall, October 20–23
The NY Phil continues putting its new-old home through its acoustical paces with music by Debussy, Caroline Shaw, and Florence Price.
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Carnegie Hall, October 22
A regional orchestra from the U.K., the CBSO has a stellar record of selecting music directors who will later become stars — Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo, and Andris Nelsons all held the job. Their successor is Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, joined for the Elgar cello concerto by soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih
Washington Irving High School, October 22
The superstar cellist Isserlis steps down from the world’s great stages to perform a recital with pianist Shih for the venerable low-cost chamber music series Peoples’ Symphony Concerts.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin, October 22
Columbia University’s Miller Theatre presents an early music ensemble from Belgium, performing Monteverdi’s sacred music in a midtown church.
Song of the Ambassadors
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, October 25
We’ve seen dancing robots, self-driving cars, and customer-service chatbots, but what can AI do for opera? Composer Derrick Skye, the musician and techno-healer K Allado-McDowell, and the digital artist Refik Anadol take on that question in this stage work, still in development, that translates one person’s brain activity into real-time projections.
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Carnegie Hall, October 25–26
Gustavo Dudamel conducts a new violin concerto by each of his two favorite Mexican composers, Gabriela Ortiz and Arturo Márquez. (The soloists are María Dueñas for the first and Anne Akiko Meyers for the second.) Oh, yes, and a couple of meaty symphonies, too: Mahler’s First and Copland’s Third.
The Journey and the Joy: David Geffen Hall Opening Night Gala
David Geffen Hall, October 26 and 28
After three weeks of nervous tryouts, tunings, and breakings-in, the New York Philharmonic needs not one but two fancy-dress festive occasions — culminating in, of course, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
A Steve Reich Celebration
Carnegie Hall, November 1
Every time Reich reaches another milestone birthday, it triggers a round of tribute concerts. Now, at 85, he’s composed a new work called Traveler’s Prayer, to be performed at this tribute alongside his landmark works Music for 18 Musicians and Tehillim.
The Orchestra Now: The Lost Generation
Carnegie Hall, November 3
Conductor Leon Botstein takes a Bard College ensemble on one of his periodic explorations through the generation of composers cut down by the Nazis: Walter Braunfels, Adolph Busch, Hans Apostel, and Hugo Kauder.
Carnegie Hall, November 10–12
The orchestra of orchestras (well, one of them) returns, now led by its new chief, Kirill Petrenko, for a three-concert series that includes two showcase performances of Mahler’s colossal Symphony No. 7 and one of the virtuosically colorful Unstuck, by the kinda-sorta-Mahlerian American composer Andrew Norman.
Carnegie Hall, November 14
The orchestra’s new music director Lahav Shani and its old friend, violinist Gil Shaham, perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.
Of Earth, Sea, and Sky
David Geffen Hall, November 16–19
Pianist Daniil Trifonov and his mentor, Sergei Babayan, perform Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion on an NY Phil program that also includes music by Jean Sibelius and Kaija Saariaho.
Travel Guide to Nicaragua
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, November 17
Cellist Maya Beiser and the intrepid vocal ensemble the Crossing perform Michael Gordon’s semi-autobiographical work about growing up in a family of Eastern European Jewish refugees in Central America.
Ellington’s Sacred Concerts
Tishman Auditorium, The New School, November 18–19
When Duke Ellington wrote his big sacred showpieces starting in the mid-1960s, some listeners saw them as the apotheosis of his talents: The great entertainer and jazzman had become a spiritual figure. Now, for the first time in 35 years, all three choral-orchestral works come back to the New York concert stage, courtesy of the New York Choral Society.
92nd Street Y, November 19
Cellist Seth Parker Woods anchors (and narrates) a multimedia exploration of the Great Migration with choreography by Roderick George.
Metropolitan Opera, November 22–December 15
Michael Cunningham’s novel — which intertwines the day-in-the-life stories of Virginia Woolf, a mid-20th-century L.A. housewife, and a 1990s lesbian — has already yielded a movie, and now it gets the operatic treatment from composer Kevin Puts. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and sopranos Renée Fleming and Kelli O’Hara are in the three main roles.
Emanuel Ax, Beethoven, and The Year 1917
David Geffen Hall, December 1–3
Patriotism and veiled critique mix in a program conducted by Rafael Payare and including William Grant Still’s Darker America and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12. Emanuel Ax injects some lightheartedness with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
Washington Irving High School, December 3
Elite and elitist don’t have to be the same. The trio formed by pianist and composer Conrad Tao, violinist Stefan Jackiw, and cellist Jay Campbell is a grouping of hyper-rarefied talents, but by performing with the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, they join a long tradition of democratizing classical music. Ticket prices are reminiscent of Horn & Hardart days.
The Other Side of the Stars: Isabel Leonard and Pablo Sáinz-Villegas
Alice Tully Hall, December 9
The glow-voiced Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Leonard takes a more intimate stage with the Spanish classical guitarist Sáinz-Villegas, performing a program of songs from around the world.
Metropolitan Opera, opens December 31
Umberto Giordano’s potboiler, set in an assortment of luxurious residences in 19th-century St. Petersburg, Paris, and Switzerland, needs the right combination of hot voices and fierce conviction. A quarter-century after the last revival, the Met is bringing it back New Year’s Eve in a new production by David McVicar with soprano Sonya Yoncheva and tenor Piotr Beczała.
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