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

LOOK AHEAD: February in New York

LOOK AHEAD: February in New York

Bryant Park’s Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain. Photo: Alex LeFevre

The New York Philharmonic, hot off an acclaimed, ambitious premiere, Julia Wolfe’s oratorio Fire in my mouth, has even more excitement in store this month. Their annual Lunar New Year concert on Wednesday, February 6, features another new work about fire, a violin concerto called Fire Ritual by Tan Dun, and an old one, too, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Conductor Kahchun Wong makes his Philharmonic debut with this concert.

Then, Feb 7-9, the Philharmonic plays Brahms’s A German Reqiuem, featuring baritone artist-in-residence Matthias Goerne. Feb 14-16, under the baton of Thomas Dausgaard, renowned piano virtuoso Stephen Hough plays Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, alongside Nielson’s Helios Overture, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2.

Finally, Feb 21-23, celebrated composer Matthias Pintscher appears on the podium to conduct the New York premiere of his own work, mar’eh, as well as the complete Firebird ballet music of Stravinsky.

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The 92nd Street Y, as always, has a tremendous lineup of great concerts. Sunday Feb 3 at 3PM, the Zukerman Trio plays favorites by Beethoven, Brahms, and Arensky. Friday Feb 9, Juilliard String Quartet appears with pianist Marc-André Hamelin to play Haydn, Dvořák, and Hungarian composer György Kurtág. And, on Friday Feb 15, the Horszowski Trio makes its 92Y debut playing Schumann, a rarely played trio by Charles Wuorinen, and the thrilling Trio No. 2 in E minor by Shostakovich.

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National Sawdust, in Williamsburg, has a month full of exciting events. Especially relevant, the PUBLIQuartet plays a program on Sunday Feb 10 called Freedom and Faith. The National Sawdust Artists-in-Residence have been hailed as being “a perfect encapsulation of today’s trends in chamber music” (Washington Post), and this is a program of works entirely by women, including Meredith Monk and, intriguingly, Ella Fitzgerald.

Monday, Feb 11, Vocalist and WQXR host Helga Davis and composers Courtney Bryan, Shelley Washington, and Mazz Swift join Face the Music at National Sawdust for a program inspired by the 2016 film Hidden Figures. The program includes Bryan’s Yet Unheard, inspired by the tragic death of Sandra Bland, plus Washington’s A Kind of Lung and music by Swift. Finally, Sunday Feb 24, the pianist Simone Dinnerstein juxtaposes Schubert and Philip Glass.

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Carnegie Hall hosts a variety of competitions this month, but has some notable performances happening, as well. Sunday Feb 3, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Yoel Levi, is joined by the legendary Itzhak Perlman, in a performance including Tchaikovsky’s Sixth and John Williams’s Theme from Schindler’s List. Tuesday Feb 5, revered pianist and piano teacher Leon Fleischer celebrates his 90th birthday, where he will play the exquisite transcription of Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” from his album Two Hands, which he recorded after regaining use of both of his hands after many years as a left-handed pianist. The following evening, superstar pianist Yuja Wang plays a program with violinist Leonidas Kavakos featuring Brahms, Prokofiev, Bartók, and Strauss.

Friday Feb 8, the Kronos Quartet presents a timely program entitled Music for Change: the Banned Countries (featuring music from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya). Kronos Artistic Director David Harrington says of the program, that it’s “exploring the ways that music can increase our understanding of our times and our connection to people around the world.” Joining Kronos will be Mahsa Vahdat, Iranian vocalist and advocate for freedom of expression. “It's a continuous, immersive experience in which musical selections are interspersed with recorded sounds from the region – street noise, radio excerpts, and so on.”

Saturday Feb 9, spectacular pianist Daniil Trifonov returns to play a wonderful program of Beethoven, Schumann, and Prokofiev. Later in the month, Monday Feb 25, the Oratorio Society of New York presents Sibelius’s Kullervo, a Finnish epic rarely performed in the U.S., and works by Berlioz and Debussy.

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New York Festival of Song has a program speaking to the current conversation about immigration and America’s culture, called Hyphenated-Americans. On Wednesday Feb 20 at Merkin Concert Hall, NYFOS “honors composers from abroad who have based their musical lives in the U.S. along with first-generation American composers whose close links to their parents’ homelands can be heard through their compositions. The concert features works by Bright Sheng (Chinese American), Daniel Sabzghabaei (Persian-American), Roberto Sierra (Puerto Rican-American), Clarice Assad (Brazilian-American) and others.”

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Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center continues their bountiful season with a number of unique programs. Friday Feb 22 is the International Collection, featuring Debussy’s cello sonata, Khachaturian’s Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano, a Brahms sextet, and a co-commission and American premiere, Huw Watkins’s Quintet for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello.

On Tuesday Feb 26 is a program called Farewells: a Beethoven violin sonata, Strauss’s Metamorphosen for strings, and Dvořák’s “Dumky” Trio.

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