Alan Gilbert and New York Philharmonic Present World Premiere of THE JUNGLE By Wynton Marsalis
Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in the World Premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle (Symphony No. 4), commissioned by the Philharmonic as the first of The New York Commissions, with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis; William Bolcom’s Trombone Concerto with Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi as soloist; and Copland’s Quiet City, featuring Principal Trumpet Christopher Martin and English horn player Grace Shryock in her Philharmonic solo debut. The performances take place Wednesday, December 28, 2016, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, December 29 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, December 30 at 8:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle is the first of The New York Commissions, in which the Philharmonic is celebrating its long history as an active commissioner and New York City cultural institution by commissioning works on New York-inspired themes from New York-based composers with strong ties to the Orchestra, on the occasion of the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season. The other two works in this project, to be composed by Sean Shepherd and Julia Wolfe, will be premiered in the 2018-19 season. On these concerts Mr. Marsalis pairs a new work, inspired by New York City, with Copland’s Quiet City, another piece about New York City composed by an American.
Alan Gilbert said of The New York Commissions: “I’ve always tried to make the New York Philharmonic not just an orchestra that happens to be in New York, but an orchestra of New York that is New York’s orchestra in a very meaningful way. We’ve asked three composers, very good friends, to write works on what New York means to them.”
The premiere results from a cross-campus collaboration between the Philharmonic and fellow Lincoln Center constituent Jazz at Lincoln Center, of which Mr. Marsalis is artistic and managing director. “One thing I’ve been interested in pursuing with the Philharmonic is collaboration with important cultural institutions across New York City,” Alan Gilbert said. “Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis was an obvious choice. Wynton is such an iconic figure: a great artist, instrumentalist, teacher, and communicator who really believes in the power of music and the importance of bringing people into our world.”
Wynton Marsalis writes of The Jungle: “New York City is the most fluid, pressure-packed, and cosmopolitan metropolis the modern world has ever seen. The dense mosaic of all kinds of people everywhere doing all kinds of things encourages you to ‘stay in your lane,’ but the speed, freedom, and intensity of our relationships to each other – and to the city itself – forces us onto a collective super highway unlike any other in our country.”
This will be the third original work that the Philharmonic has commissioned from Mr. Marsalis: the Orchestra and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performed the World Premiere-Philharmonic Commission of All Rise in December 1999, led by Kurt Masur, and the U.S. Premiere-Philharmonic Co-Commission of Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3) on Opening Night 2010, led by Alan Gilbert.
Wynton Marsalis’s (b. 1961) new work, The Jungle (Symphony No. 4), was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as part of The New York Commissions. The Philharmonic asked Mr. Marsalis to compose something that reflects New York City, which, Marsalis writes, has a “dense mosaic of all kinds of people everywhere doing all kinds of things.” Like his All Rise, also commissioned and premiered by the Philharmonic, The Jungle “utilizes chorus-formatted forms, blues-tinged melodies, jazz and fiddle improvisations, and a panorama of vernacular styles. The Jungle, however, is darker in tone and in perspective. It considers the possibility that we may not be up to overcoming the challenges of social and racial inequality, tribal prejudices, and endemic corruption. We may choose to perish in a survival of the fittest, asphalt-jungle-style battle for what is perceived as increasingly scarce resources, instead of coming together to create unlimited assets and to enjoy the social and cultural ascendancy that our form of democracy makes conceivable.” The Jungle comprises six movements: The Big Scream (Black Elk Speaks), The Big Show, Lost in Sight (Post-Pastoral), La Esquina, Us, and Struggle in the Digital Market. This is the third original work the Philharmonic has commissioned from Mr. Marsalis: the Orchestra and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performed the World Premiere-Philharmonic Commission of All Rise in December 1999, led by Kurt Masur, and the U.S. Premiere-Philharmonic Co-Commission of Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3) on Opening Night 2010, led by Alan Gilbert.