Brian Taylor is a musician and writer. He resides in New York City.

LOOK AHEAD: January in New York

LOOK AHEAD: January in New York

JANUARY 3, 2019


New York’s 2019 Season is off to the races, with more to do than the subways can get us to successfully.

There are no fewer than three festivals focusing on new music happening immediately:

The FERUS festival (as described on their website) “is an annual showcase of untamed voices. Presenting the latest in cutting–edge new music with an emphasis on performances that push the envelope, the festival invites artists to perform their newest work in music, multimedia, and beyond. A showcase for all that National Sawdust stands for as a music venue and nonprofit, FERUS transcends traditional tropes to let audiences Hear It New!”

Among the offerings: Friday, Jan 4, 2019, 7:00 PM POWER TO THE GOD WITHIN “is an interdisciplinary, immersive experience that re-presents the black being as divine and all powerful. The work employs sound, movement, fashion, film, and mixed media, among other tools. It invites the community into a shared sacred space, provoked and stimulated by expressions of identity, community, and spirituality.”

Tuesday Jan 8, 2019, 8:00 PMFor the fifth night of the 2019 FERUS Festival, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus seeks out the voices of the composers whose work is often marginalized and puts them front and center in their show AMPLIFY. …Featuring works by a wide array of young and contemporary composers, the BYC’s Concert and Men’s Ensembles perform music that speaks directly to the most urgent themes of today, furthering vital conversations within and beyond the arts. “


Also, there’s the PROTOTYPE Festival. PROTOTYPE - OPERA l THEATRE l NOW “is an annual festival of visionary opera-theatre and music-theatre works by pioneering contemporary artists from New York City and around the world. PROTOTYPE gives voice to a diverse group of composers, librettists, performers and musicians across all genres. The festival provides a recurring showcase of visionary chamber-sized opera-theatre and music-theatre pieces that then tour around the world.”

Their interesting line-up includes 4.48 PSYCHOSIS, Jan 5 - 12. Post-show conversation on Jan 11 at Baruch Performing Arts Center.


January 12 at 5PM | January 13 at 3PM at Florence Gould Hall—French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)

“An involuntary symbol of sickening injustice, George Junius Stinney Jr. was executed at the age of 14. Having been wrongly accused and convicted of the rape and murder of two white girls in Alcolu, SC, in 1944, George became the youngest person legally executed in 20th-century America. Stinney tells the story of George, his family, his community, and the jury of ten white men that sent an innocent black boy to the electric chair. A new opera with roots in both gospel and electronic techniques, Stinney: An American Execution spotlights the anger and agony of the entire populous of Alcolu, connecting the dots to our own socio-political climate in 2019 and the pervasive “fear of the other.”

There’s also the Here and Now series, at Bargemusic, Jan 4 -6, 2019.



I’m especially intrigued by a production called MAESTRO, A presentation of Ensemble for the Romantic Century — their “unique productions merge dramatic and fully staged scripts with music, recapturing the past with a sense of immediacy that transports, illuminates, and captivates” — written by Eve Wolf, and directed by Donald T. Sanders.

At the Duke Theatre January 3 - February 9, 2019, Maestro “brings to life the story of legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini and his brave opposition to Fascism. His refusal to perform in Italy and Germany, and his trips to Palestine to conduct an orchestra made up of Jewish refugees made headlines around the world. Drawing on his passionate letters to his lover, the young Italian pianist Ada Mainardi, along with music by his contemporaries, this moving theatrical experience shows us that even during one of the darkest chapters in human history, an artist’s voice can be heard. The cast includes John Noble as Arturo Toscanini, and live musicians.”


Carnegie Hall, as always, has a wide variety of the world’s musical stars. Renowned music conservatory Oberlin College Conservatory brings their orchestra and choir to the city in a program balancing two new works with classics by Debussy and Stravinsky. Jan 19, 2019, at 8:00 PM, Oberlin College Choir and Oberlin Orchestra, Raphael Jiménez, conductor, and Gregory Ristow, conductor, present TARIK O’REAGAN Tryptych; STRAVINSKY Les Noces; ELIZABETH OGONEK  All These Lighted Things; DEBUSSY La Mer.

January has two exciting piano recitals on Carnegie’s big stage, one by burgeoning star Seong-Jin Cho, Piano, Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019, 8 PM, in Austrian, French, and Russian repertoire. And, on Thursday, Jan 24, 2019, 8 PM,  Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano, plays SCHUMANN Three Romances, Op. 28; JANÁČEK  On the Overgrown Path, Book I; BARTÓK  Three Burlesques; SCHUMANN  Carnaval, Op. 9. I would be especially interested to hear his take on the Janáček, some of my favorite unsung piano repertoire.

Always reliable for interesting programs, the American Symphony Orchestra presents Sounds of the American Century. Friday, Jan 25, 2019 at 8 PM  in the Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, the ASO, Leon Botstein leads DRUCKMAN  Prism, William SCHUMAN’s superb, yet neglected, Symphony No. 3, and there the NY Premiere of FINE’s  Concertante for Piano and Orchestra, Charlie Albright, Piano.


Finally, New York City Opera is presenting the legendary Aprile Millo, Soprano, in her first New York appearance in a decade. Wednesday, Jan 30, 2019 at 7:30 PM in Zankel Hall.


Meanwhile, at the New York Philharmonic:

January 16-22 Jaap van Zweden conducts Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2, and Yefim Bronfman plays Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto.

But more exciting is the following week’s concert, the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth directed by Anne Kauffman. An “immersive visual and musical event — featuring lights, chamber choir, video, and projection — that explores a seminal event in New York City, the devastating Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 that killed more than 100 young immigrants.” It features The Crossing, a chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally, and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Núñez, director. This is played with Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, and Stucky’s Elegy from August 4, 1964.

There’s also the Sound ON series. Sunday, Jan 27 @ 3 PM, GRoW @ Annenberg Sound ON Series, Hosted and Curated by Nadia Sirota. “Sound and stimulation are set to “on” at this new-music series Sunday afternoons at The Appel Room, overlooking Central Park. Musicians from the New York Philharmonic perform chamber music by composers of today, and share what they love about the music in conversation with host / curator Nadia .”

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