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Fisher Center Presents 2007-2008 American Symphony Orchestra Series

Of their performance this summer, as the resident orchestra of the Bard Music Festival, the New York Times wrote, “. . . the [American Symphony] orchestra, superbly responsive to Mr. Botstein’s driven interpretation, sounded exceptional.”

Mark Primoff

Image Credit: Steve Sherman

September Program Features Works by Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Ibert, Dvořák; February Concert Highlights Include Works by Debussy, Dukas, Scriabin, Copland; and April Program Closes Series with Works by Barber, Sibelius, Strauss

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College presents the 2007–2008 season of the popular American Symphony Orchestra Fisher Center series, with concerts beginning at 8:00 p.m. in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater. A preconcert talk by Richard Wilson, composer in residence with the ASO, begins at 6:45 p.m. Individual tickets are $20, $30, and $35. A subscription to the three-concert series is $80 per person, and is available until Tuesday, September 4. Call 845-758-7900 or visit the Fisher Center website at for further information.

The series features the American Symphony Orchestra, which is orchestra in residence at the Fisher Center, and is conducted by music director Leon Botstein, of whom the New York Times recently wrote, “The conductor Leon Botstein elicited powerful, refined performances from the American Symphony Orchestra.” And of their performance this summer, as the resident orchestra of the Bard Music Festival, the New York Times wrote, “. . . the [American Symphony] orchestra, superbly responsive to Mr. Botstein’s driven interpretation, sounded exceptional.”

The first program in the series, “Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Ibert, Dvořák,” offered on Friday, September 14, and Saturday, September 15, features performances of Johannes Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80; Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103 (“Egyptian”), with Shun-Yang Lee, piano; Jacques Ibert’s Quatre Chansons de Don Quichotte, with Yohan Yi, baritone; and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in F Minor, Op. 95 (“From the New World”). “There is something very Brahmsian in the fact that, when asked to write a solemn piece for an eminently solemn occasion, he would respond by one of the merriest works of his entire career and surprise everyone by basing it on a string of well-known melodies—student songs and other contemporary favorites,” writes Peter Laki in the program notes of Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture, which opens the concert. Dvořák’s Ninth, which concludes this program, “proved not only his supreme melodic gifts, but also his mastery in organizing his melodies into coherent and well-balanced musical structures . . . The ending of the symphony, then, combines the main themes from all four movements in a magnificent synthesis,” writes Laki.

Debussy, Dukas, Scriabin, Copland” highlights those composers in the second program of the series, on Friday, February 1, and Saturday, February 2. Works include Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun; Paul Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Alexander Scriabin’s Piano Concerto in F-sharp Minor, Op. 20, with Wui-Ming Gan, piano; and Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3.

The final concerts of the 2007–2008 series, “Barber, Sibelius, Strauss,” are presented on Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26. Featured works are Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, with Chanel Wood, soprano; Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47, with Erica Kiesewetter, violin; and Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30.

Founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski with a mission to “perform concerts of great music within the means of everyone,” the American Symphony Orchestra has been called “a virtuoso exercise in musical outreach” (New York Times). As part of Lincoln Center Presents Great Performers, the American Symphony Orchestra performs thematically organized concerts at Avery Fisher Hall, linking music to the visual arts, literature, politics, and history. In addition, the American Symphony Orchestra performs in a lecture/concert series with audience interaction called Classics Declassified at Columbia University’s Miller Theater. Its music education programs extend through New York, New Jersey, and Long Island.

The Orchestra has toured extensively and has made numerous recordings and broadcasts. Its most recent recording is of music by Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands in a special tribute album to legendary American music patron Francis Goelet, issued by New World Records. The Orchestra also recently recorded music by Ernst von Dohnányi for Bridge Records. Its recording of Richard Strauss’s opera Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt was released in 2003 by Telarc. Other recordings with Leon Botstein include Franz Schubert: Orchestrated on the Koch International Label, with works by Joachim, Mottl, and Webern, and on the Vanguard Classics label, Johannes Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11. The American Symphony has made several tours of Asia and Europe and appears at charitable and public benefits for such organizations as Sha’are Zedek Hospital, the Jerusalem Foundation, and PBS.

Leon Botstein is music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the radio orchestra of Israel. He is also the founder and coartistic director of the Bard Music Festival. Highlights of the past season included guest engagements with NDR-Hamburg and the BBC Symphony, as well as recordings of Bruno Walter’s Symphony No. 1 and Paul Dukas’s opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue, which Botstein conducted at New York City Opera. Last season Botstein also conducted Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt, in Madrid; made appearances with the Düsseldorf Symphony; and led a monthlong North American tour of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. His recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of Gavriil Popov’s epic Symphony No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations, Op. 3, received a Grammy nomination. His extensive discography, in addition to those recordings with the American Symphony Orchestra, includes recordings of Chausson’s opera Le roi Arthus; Liszt’s Dante Symphony and Tasso; works by Glière, Reger, Bartók, Szymanowski, Hartmann, and Bruckner; and Die Liebe der Danae with Lauren Flanigan (all on Telarc). He is editor of The Musical Quarterly and author of numerous articles and books. For his contributions to music, he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts. Since 1975 he has been president of Bard College.

Special student discount tickets are offered in advance through the High 5 program (in addition to the $5 student rush tickets available the day of the events, for students with valid full-time student ID or under the age of 25). Any student under the age of 25 with a full-time student ID may purchase up to two (2) tickets for Fisher Center performances for only $5.00, with up to one (1) ticket allowed for use by an accompanying adult. All High 5 Hudson Valley tickets are subject to availability for select performances. To purchase tickets, visit ( or call the High 5 Hotline at 212.445.8587. Upon purchasing the tickets through High 5, students receive a voucher to be redeemed at the Fisher Center box office on the day of the event.

For tickets to these and other Fisher Center programs, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit the Fisher Center box office at



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This event was last updated on 09-18-2007