Boston Symphony Orchestra to premiere Augusta Read Thomas' 3rd Cello Concerto

Contact: Paula Mlyn
A440 Arts Group


January 24, 2013


Performances take place on March 14-16, 2013 at Boston’s Symphony Hall featuring cellist Lynn Harrell, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach

NEW YORK, NY – The Boston Symphony Orchestra presents the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ Cello Concerto No. 3, Legend of the Phoenix, featuring cello soloist Lynn Harrell, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, on March 14, 2013, 8 pm; March 15, 1:30 pm; and March 16, 8 pm at Boston’s Symphony Hall. This concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra with generous support from Bill and Solange Brown.  Tickets are $30-$114 and may be purchased online, or by calling 1-888-266-1200.
A long-time champion of Thomas’ music, Christoph Eschenbach has led several premieres of her works, including Trainwork (2002), Chanting to Paradise (2002), Helios Choros III (2007, which Thomas dedicated to the conductor), and the US premiere of Violin Concerto #3, Juggler in Paradise (2008). Additionally, The Boston Symphony Orchestra has featured Ms. Thomas’ works in previous seasons, including the2009 US premiere of Helios Choros II, the second work in her orchestral triptych (Helios Choros II was a co-commission with the London Symphony Orchestra).
As a devout admirer of cellist Lynn Harrell, Thomas says, “I love the way Lynn makes his cello sing at all times and the way he is able to capture the deepest characters in music and elucidate them vividly and radiantly to his listeners.”  She describes Legend of the Phoenix as “Scenes with arias, with the cello soloist as a singing storyteller. Shaped in one long-reaching, continuous arch, the work’s energy is always activated by the soloist, who is at the ‘philosophic center,’ beckoning, caressing, and summoning the music’s chain of ‘legends.’“
Hailed as “a true virtuoso composer” by The New Yorker, Thomas’ 2012-2013 concert season has included four important world premieres of significant new works. On September 30, 2012, Thomas’ Resounding Earth, a percussion quartet commissioned by a consortium of universities and Chamber Music America, written for the Chicago-based ensemble Third Coast Percussion,  received its world premiere at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts in South Bend, IN.  The work, featuring over 125 bells from diverse world cultures, enjoyed repeat performances in California, and is scheduled to be performed again in the Chicago area on April 6, 2013. Earth Echoes, commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in remembrance of the 100th Anniversary of Mahler’s death in 2011, was premiered at Carnegie Hall on October 11, 2012, featuring baritone Nathan Gunn and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke. Thomas will have her fourth major world premiere of the season with Harvest Drum at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, on March 17, 2013. Harvest Drum was commissioned by the National Centre as part of its Composing China project. Also in March, the New York Virtuoso Singers give the world premiere of Thomas’ Carillions, which was composed as part of the ensemble’s 25th Anniversary celebration.
Augusta Read Thomas was recently awarded The Order of Lincoln from The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and from the Governor of Illinois for her extraordinary contributions to the world of music. Former recipients include such distinguished musicians as Maria Tallchief, Benny Goodman, Mahalia Jackson, Sherrill Milnes, and Ardis Krainik.


Recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (previously elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2009), Augusta Read Thomas’ music is majestic, elegant, lyrical, and it has been called “boldly considered music that celebrates the sound of instruments and reaffirms the vitality of orchestral music” by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Born in 1964, Ms. Thomas was the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2006, a residency that culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle – one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. During her residency with the CSO under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, Thomas not only premiered nine commissioned works, but also co-founded (with Cliff Colnot) and curated the MusicNOW series.  In addition to Barenboim, Thomas’ music has been championed by other leading conductors including Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Oliver Knussen, Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson and Christoph Eschenbach.
Thomas’ music has been commissioned by leading ensembles and organizations around the world including: Chanticleer; Berlin Philharmonic, NDR (German Radio) Orchestra; The Cleveland Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; La Jolla Chamber Music Society; National Symphony Orchestra; Radio France; BBC PROMS, and the BBC Orchestra; Dallas Symphony Orchestra; London Symphony Orchestra; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Orchestre de Paris; Utah Symphony Orchestra; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, and the ASCAP Foundation.
Ms. Thomas studied composition with Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood, Jacob Druckman at Yale University, with Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University, and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University and a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College – which is now, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Committed to educating future generations of composers, Thomas is the 16th ever University Professor to be so named, and currently one of five University Professors on the faculty of the University of Chicago. Thomas was an assistant then associate professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music from 1993-2001, and from 2001 until 2006 was the Wyatt Professor of Music (Endowed Chair) at Northwestern University. In the summers, she often teaches at the Tanglewood Music Center. Thomas was the Director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood in 2009. Frequently, Thomas undertakes residencies in colleges, universities, and festivals across the United States and in Europe.
Ms. Thomas’ music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.
Music Director of the National Symphony as well as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Christoph Eschenbach is in demand as a guest conductor with the finest orchestras and opera houses throughout the world. Artistic Director of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival from 1999 to 2002, he has continued a close relationship with the Festival, regularly conducting the Orchestra at home and on tour as well as playing piano concerti and recitals.
Highlights of Mr. Eschenbach’s recent seasons included appearances with the Orchestre de Paris, where he was music director through August, 2010; performances with the National Symphony; tours with the London Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Dresden; and engagements with the Vienna State Opera, the Opera National de Paris, Wiener Philharmoniker, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China, and NDR Symphony, where he served as music director from 1998 to 2004. As a pianist, Eschenbach continued his collaboration with baritone Matthias Goerne, with whom he is recording Schubert’s three song cycles for the Harmonia Mundi label.
A prolific recording artist over five decades, Eschenbach has recorded as both a conductor and a pianist on labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Sony/BMG, Decca, Ondine, Warner and Koch. His Ondine recording of the music of Kaija Saariaho with the Orchestre de Paris and soprano Karita Mattila won the 2009 MIDEM Classical Award in Contemporary Music.
Mentored by George Szell and Herbert von Karajan, Eschenbach’s other past posts include chief conductor and artistic director of the Tonhalle-Orchestra from 1982 to 1986; and music director of the Houston Symphony from 1988 to 1999, the Ravinia Festival from 1994 to 2003, and the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2003 to 2008. His many honors include the Légion d’honneur, Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Officer’s Cross with Star and Ribbon of the German Order of Merit, and the Commander’s Cross of the German Order of Merit. He also received the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Pacific Music Festival, where he was co-artistic director from 1992 to 1998.
A consummate soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, conductor and teacher, cellist Lynn Harrell’s work has placed him in the highest echelon of today’s performing artists.
Mr. Harrell is a frequent guest of many leading orchestras including Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and the National Symphony.  In Europe he partners with the orchestras of London, Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Tonhalle, and Israel. He has also toured extensively to Australia and New Zealand as well as Asia, including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. He regularly collaborates with such noted conductors as James Levine, Sir Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson Thomas and David Zinman.
Having recently returned from a European tour with Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra; an Asian tour with concerts in Singapore and Taipei; and performances with his home city orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic with Frühbeck de Burgos, Harrell kicks off 2013 with the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ Legend of the Phoenix, followed by performances in New York, Detroit, and Edmonton and a return to the Tanglewood Festival.
Renowned in recital and chamber music around the world, Harrell has collaborated with Anne-Sophie Mutter, Yuri Bashmet, Andre Previn, and recorded with Vladimir Ashkenazy, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and Nigel Kennedy. His critically acclaimed extensive discography of over 30 releases ranges from Bach to Walton, with several Grammy Award winners and world premieres amongst them.
In June 2010, along with his wife violinist Helen Nightengale, Lynn founded the HEARTbeats Foundation, a 501(c) charity. Based in Los Angeles, the HEARTbeats Foundation strives to help children in need harness the power of music to better cope with, and recover from, the extreme challenges of poverty and conflict. Mr. Harrell serves as a board officer and Artist Ambassador, a capacity that allows him to work directly with children in need.
Mr. Harrell plays a 2008 Dungey cello. He makes his home in Santa Monica, CA.
Now in its 132nd season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave its inaugural concert on October 22, 1881, and has continued to uphold the vision of its founder, the businessman, philanthropist, Civil War veteran, and amateur musician Henry Lee Higginson, for well over a century. The Boston Symphony Orchestra has performed throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, South America, and China; in addition, it reaches audiences numbering in the millions through its performances on radio, television, and recordings. It plays an active role in commissioning new works from today’s most important composers; its summer season at Tanglewood is regarded as one of the world’s most important music festivals; it helps develop the audience of the future through BSO Youth Concerts and through a variety of outreach programs involving the entire Boston community; and, during the Tanglewood season, it sponsors the Tanglewood Music Center, one of the world’s most important training grounds for young composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and vocalists. The orchestra’s virtuosity is reflected in the concert and recording activities of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, one of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles made up of a major symphony orchestra’s principal players, and the activities of the Boston Pops Orchestra have established an international standard for the performance of lighter kinds of music. Overall, the mission of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is to foster and maintain an organization dedicated to the making of music consonant with the highest aspirations of musical art, creating performances and providing educational and training programs at the highest level of excellence. This is accomplished with the continued support of its audiences, governmental assistance on both the federal and local levels, and through the generosity of many foundations, businesses, and individuals. Today the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc., presents more than 250 concerts annually. It is an ensemble that has richly fulfilled Henry Lee Higginson’s vision of a great and permanent orchestra in Boston.