Show artwork for Leila Josefowicz & Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3
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Leila Josefowicz & Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3

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Leila Josefowicz & Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3

Friday, May 19—Saturday, May 20, 2023

Friday, May 19—Saturday, May 20, 2023
Orchestra Hall
2 hours

Mendelssohn was struck by the rugged landscape of Scotland during a walking tour there, and later infused his Third Symphony with hints of Scottish dances and reminiscences of the countryside. Helen Grime’s Violin Concerto is a study in contrasts—from the frenzy of wild virtuosity to sensitive, reflective melodies—and is played here by Leila Josefowicz, a leading performer of new music for the violin. Conductor and composer Daníel Bjarnason begins with one of his own pieces, inspired by the energy and brightness of the Pacific Ocean.

Program

DANÍEL BJARNASON
Blow bright
HELEN GRIME
Violin Concerto
FELIX MENDELSSOHN
Symphony No. 3, “Scottish”

Artists

Daníel Bjarnason

conductor

Daníel Bjarnason is one of Iceland’s foremost musical voices today, increasingly in demand as conductor, composer, and programmer. He is Artist in Collaboration with Iceland Symphony Orchestra, an appointment that follows his tenures as Principal Guest Conductor and Artist in Residence.

As guest conductor he debuts this season with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, where his music has been previously performed, returns to Göteborgs Symfoniker and is a regular presence in Reykjavik with Iceland Symphony Orchestra throughout the season.

Keeping a busy composing schedule alongside his conducting commitments, many of his works are taken up beyond their premieres and regularly programmed around the world. This season, two new works see world premieres: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, written for Víkingur Ólafsson, and Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, written for Martin Grubinger, both presented by hr-Sinfonieorchester

In 2020/21 he appeared with Tapiola Sinfonietta, while regularly conducting Iceland Symphony, presenting the Icelandic premiere of his Violin Concerto with Pekka Kuusisto. He also had a new short piece premiered with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which previously commissioned other works from him.

He has previously conducted Göteborgs Symfoniker, Gävle Symfoniorkester, Aalborg Symfoniorkester and Turun Filharmoninen Orkesteri in Europe, while in North America he has appeared with Los Angeles Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony orchestras, and in Japan with Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

Bjarnason maintains a close connection with Los Angeles Philharmonic, having written From Space I Saw Earth for Gustavo Dudamel, Zubin Mehta and Esa-Pekka Salonen to conduct together at its Centennial Birthday Celebration Concert and Gala in 2019. In 2017 they premiered Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl, in a co-commission with Iceland Symphony for Pekka Kuusisto, while he co-curated the orchestra’s Reykjavík Festival, an eclectic and multi-disciplinary 17-day event, in which he featured as conductor and composer.

Violin Concerto became a success with audiences and orchestras and remains very popular. Kuusisto has performed it with Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, National Arts Center orchestras, Swedish Radio and Finnish Radio symphony orchestras, Göteborgs Symfoniker, MDR Sinfonieorchester and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester. Bjarnason conducts the recording of the work with Kuusisto, as part of the final instalment of a three-album recording project with Iceland Symphony for Sono Luminus focussing on Icelandic music and composers.

Since its premiere in 2017, his first opera, Brothers, for the Danish National Opera and directed by Kasper Holten, based on the Susanne Bier film of the same name, was also revived in Reykjavík by The Icelandic Opera in 2018, and opened Budapest’s 2019 Armel Opera Festival.

Bjarnason conducted the world premiere of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Last and First Men, a multimedia work narrated by Tilda Swinton, at the 2017 Manchester International Festival with BBC Philharmonic, and subsequently at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra the following year.

A recipient of numerous accolades, in 2018 he was awarded the Optimism prize by the President of Iceland, won the 8th Harpa Nordic Film Composers Award for the feature film Under the Tree, and was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize. He also won Composer of the Year, Best Composer/Best Composition and Best Performer at the Icelandic Music Awards in recent years.

Bjarnason studied piano, composition and conducting in Reykjavík and pursued further studies in orchestral conducting at Hochschule für Musik Freiburg. He released several albums for the label Bedroom Community

Daníel Bjarnason is published by Edition Peters.

Leila Josefowicz

violin

Leila Josefowicz’s passionate advocacy of contemporary music for the violin is reflected in her diverse programmes and enthusiasm for performing new works. In recognition of her outstanding achievement and excellence in music, she won the 2018 Avery Fisher Prize and was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2008, joining prominent scientists, writers and musicians who have made unique contributions to contemporary life.

A favorite of living composers, Josefowicz has premiered many concertos, including those by Colin Matthews, Steven Mackey and Esa-Pekka Salonen, all written specially for her. This season, Josefowicz will give the world premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s Assonanza II for Violin and Chamber Orchestra by Matthias Pintscher, with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and then in Europe with Musikkollegium Wintertur, both under the baton of the composer. Other recent premieres include John Adams’ Scheherazade.2 (Dramatic Symphony for Violin and Orchestra) in 2015 with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, and Luca Francesconi’s Duende – The Dark Notes in 2014 with Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Susanna Mälkki. Josefowicz enjoyed a close working relationship with the late Oliver Knussen, performing various concerti, including his violin concerto, together over 30 times. 

Following summer performances in the US at Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Grand Teton Music Festival, Josefowicz’s season begins with a return to Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, working with their incoming Music Director Nicholas Collon. Josefowicz will work again with regular collaborators Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and NAC Orchestra Ottawa, as well as returning to Europe for engagements with Oslo Philharmonic, Dresdner Philharmonie, Concertgebouworkest and Budapest Festival Orchestra, working with Hannu Lintu, Dalia Stasevska, John Storgards, Susanna Mälkki and Esa-Pekka Salonen. 

Highlights of recent seasons, Josefowicz include working with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Boston, Chicago, The Cleveland, and Philadelphia orchestras, where she worked with conductors at the highest level, including Susanna Mälkki, Matthias Pintscher and John Adams.

Josefowicz has participated in several important projects during the pandemic including the MetLiveArts Spring 2021 series premiering a new work La Linea Evocativa by Matthias Pintscher written especially for her and performed alongside Bach’s Partita No.2 in D Minor, staged among masterpieces by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko; as well as a collaboration with Violin Channel during their Virtual Concert series performing works of Mahler and Sibelius as well as Reflection by Oliver Knussen and the Sonata of Bernd Alois Zimmermann with John Novacek.

Alongside Novacek, with whom she has enjoyed a close collaboration since 1985, Josefowicz has performed recitals at world-renowned venues such as New York’s Zankel Hall and Park Avenue Armory, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress and London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as in Reykjavik, Chicago, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. This season Josefowicz gives solo performances at Wigmore Hall and The Phillips Collection in Washington DC.

Josefowicz has released several recordings, notably for Deutsche Grammophon, Philips/Universal and Warner Classics and was featured on Touch Press’s acclaimed iPad app, ‘The Orchestra’. Her latest recording, released in 2019, features Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Violin Concerto with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu. She has previously received nominations for Grammy Awards for her recordings of Scheherazade.2 with the St Louis Symphony conducted by David Robertson, and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer.

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Saturday, May 20
7:45pm
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Digital Premiere—Leila Josefowicz at The Met | MetLiveArts

Her virtuosity surfs waves of jubilant energy. ”

-Los Angeles Times

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