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A New York State of Mind


Meghan Berneking

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Many audience members will recall that, just over a year ago, the Cincinnati Symphony Orches-tra under the baton of Music Director Louis Langrée performed an all-Tchaikovsky program at Music Hall during Thanksgiving weekend. The concert, featuring the composer’s Fifth Symphony and First Piano Concer-to with soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk, was a crowd favorite, leaving audiences buzzing for weeks. The “jaw-dropping” program inspired critics to proclaim that the “orchestra has never sounded better” (Cincinnati Enquirer). Mr. Gavrylyuk’s astonishing technique dazzled in his CSO debut. “Gavrylyuk…produced a tone that was closely in tune with the work’s vast range of expression, whether full, lush and ringing, or pearly and gentle. As for virtuosity, all one could say was ‘Wow’” (MusicInCincinnati.com).

The performance left such an impression that it prompted an invitation to repeat the program as part of Lincoln Center’s 50th Anniversary Great Performers season. The Orchestra will travel to New York City next month for a Wednesday, January 6 (8 p.m.) concert at David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall), once again serving as Cincinnati’s cultural ambassador in one of the world’s most elite centers of music.

The CSO joins the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra with Valery Gergiev, the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell. Comprising the 2015-16 Symphonic Masters series, this collection of name-drop-worthy orchestras and their respective conductors highlights an exquisite Great Performers season that also includes solo recitals and chamber performances from such artists as Murray Perahia, Ray Chen, the Emerson String Quartet, Richard Goode and Accademia Bizantina. Mr. Gavrylyuk, a rising star who has already won gold in both the Horowitz and Rubin-stein competitions, will also perform a solo recital of works by Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev on Sunday, January 10.

Mr. Langrée’s position since 2002 as Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of the Most-ly Mozart Festival and Orchestra (a major component of Lincoln Center’s summer festival), as well as his regular performances with The Metropolitan Opera, has earned him the respect and praise of New York’s critics and audiences. “I am so very honored, proud and excited to be taking the CSO to Lincoln Center. Very few American orchestras are invited to this series, so it’s quite an honor and privilege to expand our role as Cincinnati’s ambassador in this way,” said Mr. Langrée.

The January 6 performance marks the CSO’s first appearance outside of Cincinnati under Mr. Langrée’s direction since he took.up the post of Music Director, and it is the second tour to New York City in two years, following its May 2014 appearance at Carnegie Hall with James Conlon and the May Festival Chorus.

The Great Performers series began in 1965, and since then the series has expanded to include significant emerging artists and premieres of groundbreaking productions. Classical and contemporary music performances include concerts from the world’s outstanding symphony orchestras, vocalists, chamber ensembles and recitalists, including such acclaimed artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Evgeny Kissin (who makes his CSO debut in May) and Itzhak Perlman.

While the invitation to perform came from Lincoln Center, hometown fans and supporters made the trip possible: Molly and Tom Garber, Sandra and Stephen Joffe, and The Carl Jacobs Foundation. Packing up a full symphony orchestra for a trip to New York City requires significant resources, and the generosity of the Cincinnati community has once again proved that “it takes a village” to achieve greatness. While the CSO continues to be an ambassador to the world, performing alongside the most renowned ensembles, the Orchestra remains firmly rooted as Cincinnati’s own.