We are thrilled to come together with you for The Chelsea Symphony’s 2021-22 concert season, Reunited. Each program this season responds in a different way to the past unprecedented year. We celebrate the joys of being back on the town and remember those we have lost; we find solace in nature, strength in diversity, and inspiration in resilience.
The world has undergone profound changes since we last gathered, and it is more clear than ever that our art form has to speak to our present. This season we redouble our commitment to socially engaged, inclusive programming that addresses the most pressing issues of our time, from racial injustice and environmental protection to the global health crisis that still envelops us. Alongside historic works that illuminate the human condition, we are proud to showcase some of the most dynamic composers working today and amplify voices from groups that have historically been marginalized or excluded from orchestral music.
As always, we aim to radically democratize the concert experience. Every concert will showcase The Chelsea Symphony’s unique collaborative structure, with our musicians rotating as featured soloists, composers, and conductors. We invite you to join us in conversation after each performance—come over and say hello! And for the sixth straight year, we continue our partnership with the NYC Department of Correction to bring music to people who are incarcerated.
Thank you for your support of The Chelsea Symphony. We hope you will reunite with us often this season!
Matthew Aubin and Mark Seto
September: Back on the Town
Our season opener celebrates the resilience of our community in times of adversity. Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town, written during the darkest days of World War II, depicts an exuberant romp through New York City. The very title of Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia comes from the ancient Greek words for “together” and “sound”—the essence of reuniting through music. The program opens with the New York City premiere of Valerie Coleman’s Seven O’Clock Shout, a tribute to the frontline workers who have sustained us through the pandemic.
In these concerts, we honor the loved ones we have lost. Tim Kiah’s new work remembers our dear friend Kurt Behnke, a longtime cellist with TCS. The series also features the premiere of Kamala Sankaram’s 91919 (10/30), a moving meditation on grief. Franz Schubert’s lyrical Unfinished Symphony, a work some scholars believe was inspired by personal trauma, demonstrates the power of music to provide solace. Concertos by Camille Saint-Saëns (10/29), Lars-Erik Larsson (10/29), and Arvo Pärt (10/30) round out the program.
December: A Jazz Holiday
Kick off the season with TCS in swinging style as we perform Duke Ellington’s jazz arrangement of a holiday favorite, the Nutcracker Suite. Jeff Beal’s Concerto for Jazz Bass, written for the legendary John Patitucci, highlights both electric and upright instruments. The program wraps up with two TCS holiday traditions: Sleigh Ride conducted by an audience member, and Aaron Dai’s The Night Before Christmas with a surprise guest narrator. Reception and silent auction to follow.
This program draws inspiration from nature—a wellspring of relief in troubled times, and a metaphor for urgent issues in the world we live in. Sam Wu’s Wind Map, the winning entry in The Chelsea Symphony’s 2020 Composition Competition, juxtaposes moments of luminous calm and breathtaking intensity. Tumblebird Contrails by composer and environmentalist Gabriella Smith captures an ecstatic encounter with the sea and the sky on the northern California coast. Errollyn Wallen’s Mighty River commemorates the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Beloved violin concertos by Samuel Barber (1/21) and Max Bruch (1/22) round out the series.
March: Her Voice
In celebration of International Women’s Day, our March concerts showcase the artistry of women and non-binary musicians in our TCS community and beyond. Bassoonist Melissa Kritzer presents the world premiere of Scott Switzer’s Meditations and Reflections (3/11), based on compositions by the medieval polymath Hildegard of Bingen. Nisreen Nor is the featured soloist in Miguel del Aguila’s Malambo (3/12), and Angela Shankar premieres a new concerto by TCS composer Michael Boyman. Florence Price’s First Symphony, a towering work by a musical trailblazer, anchors the program.
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony, the composer’s final masterpiece, plumbs the depths of human expression in one of the most poignant works in the symphonic repertoire. Jennifer Higdon’s Oboe Concerto, like the Tchaikovsky, features moments of exquisite tenderness and beauty. In the composer’s words, the piece highlights the instrument’s “extraordinary lyrical gift.” A new work by TCS Resident Composer Aaron Dai opens the concert.
Gustav Mahler believed that “a symphony must be like the world; it must embrace everything.” The composer’s monumental Fifth Symphony traverses the full range of human experience, from the deepest sorrow to unbridled jubilation, in a brilliant conclusion to the season. Each performance begins with a woodwind showcase: Otar Gordeli’s sparkling Flute Concertino (6/25), and Gabriela Lena Frank’s rumination on fairy tales and indigeneity, Will-o’-the-Wisp (6/26).