NAC Orchestra to return to Carnegie Hall with new commission by Philip Glass

Alexander Shelley will lead NACO in a concert at Carnegie Hall in April 2021.

The National Arts Centre will be back on a Carnegie Hall stage for the first time two decades when it premieres a new work by the legendary composer Philip Glass in 2021.

The April 28, 2021 concert will also feature Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 and the Korngold Violin Concerto performed by James Ehnes, who has become a regular on many NACO tours.

The Glass composition is a commission in memory of the broadcaster and TV anchor Peter Jennings who is from Ottawa. The piece is to be based on the theme of Truth in Our Times and is intended as an ode to freedom of the press. It will be performed mere blocks from Trump Tower and the headquarters of major American TV networks.

This news comes at the NAC prepares to announce its 2020-21 seasons on March 21.

Philip Glass. Photo: Danny Clinch

“It is very special to bring Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra to Carnegie Hall with a program that revolves around the theme of Truth in Our Times,” said NACO Music Director Alexander Shelley. “Through the universal language of music, including the exciting U.S. premiere of Philip Glass’ newest orchestral work, we hope to share with our friends in New York City a compelling, engaging and memorable concert that sparks dialogue and reflects on global challenges such as truth and freedom of speech.”

Peter Jennings. Photo: (ABC/Michael O’Neill)

The concert will also feature a new work by Nicole Liz֖ée called Zeiss after Dark. Liz֖ée, who loves to integrate old technology and video in her musical contexts is creating a piece that “which evokes the cinematographic effect of the Zeiss lens used to film intimate scenes lit only by candles.” Liz֖ée has written for NACO before including Bondarsphere in the Life Reflected quartet and in the ballet commissions Encount3rs.

This will be the first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 20 years. It is the 14th appearance there since 1969, when the orchestra was formed. The NAC Orchestra concert will be in the historic Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. As with all NACO tours the concert will feature outreach, education and community events.

Korngold’s Violin Concerto and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 connect to the pursuit of truth and freedom. Erich Korngold came to the United States during the Second World War. His Violin Concerto was a response to the fall of the Nazi regime.

Shostakovich’s Symphony No 9. was subversive, satirical, and was banned Stalin.

Glass’s work will have its world premiere in Ottawa at the NAC on April 1, 2021 and will repeat the next night. It will also be performed in Toronto on April 30 in Roy Thomson Hall during NACO’s annual visit.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.