By MICHAEL COOPER
Jaap van Zweden conducting the New York Philharmonic in 2012. Next season will be his first as the orchestra's music director. Credit Ruby Washington/The New York Times
Just a year ago, the New York Philharmonic seemed to be floundering. Deficits stretched back more than a decade, administrators were leaving in an exodus, and the orchestra faced the prospect of a costly, disruptive plan to renovate its Lincoln Center home.
Then the orchestra hired Deborah Borda, who ran it in the 1990s and went on to make the Los Angeles Philharmonic a wonder of the music world, to be its next leader. In recent months she has swiftly raised $50 million and successfully pushed to scrap the planned gut renovation of David Geffen Hall in favor of more modest changes.
Now, as a stabilizing Philharmonic prepares to welcome the Dutch maestro Jaap van Zweden as its 26th music director, the orchestra is focusing on its hometown. Announcing its 2018-19 season on Tuesday, the Philharmonic said that it had canceled a planned domestic tour to devote itself to strengthening its ties to New York.
In one new initiative, called “Phil the Hall,” teachers, city workers and others will be invited to buy $5 tickets to short introductory concerts in April conducted by Mr. van Zweden. Two new series outside Geffen Hall will explore new music, drawing on the city’s contemporary scene.
“I feel like we are touring in our own city,” Mr. van Zweden said in a recent interview with editors and reporters of The New York Times. “This is not just for certain people. This is for all of us, everybody.”
Ms. Borda said that forging connections would be an important part of her tenure. “I hope that people will start to perceive us as more outward-facing than frankly, I think, we have been in the past,” she said in the Times interview, sitting next to Mr. van Zweden.
When Mr. van Zweden was appointed, some critics worried that, since his reputation was based largely on performances of the standard repertory, he would give new music short shrift. His first season is carefully calibrated to suggest it should not have to be an either/or proposition.
Mr. van Zweden will conduct plenty of old favorites, including Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and works by Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler and Shostakovich. But he will also lead five world premieres: Louis Andriessen’s “Agamemnon,” part of a focus on that Dutch composer; Julia Wolfe’s “Fire in My Mouth,” a multimedia choral work about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; David Lang’s opera “prisoner of the state,” a take on Beethoven’s “Fidelio” and the centerpiece of a season-ending festival of “music of conscience”; and pieces by Ashley Fure, who will write a new work for opening night on Sept. 20, and Conrad Tao.
“A lot of people thought I was the guy who likes Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven — and that’s absolutely true,” Mr. van Zweden said. But he emphasized that he had been an advocate for new music as chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra from 2005 to 2013. “It’s fine if people did not recognize that,” he added. “But I’m very happy that I can bring some new works to the New York Philharmonic and to its audiences.”……………
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