“Our musicians are so ready to be back!” says Deborah Borda, the New York Philharmonic's Linda and Mitch Hart President and CEO, following the 18-month intermission since Music Director Jaap van Zweden and the Orchestra last performed for their subscribers. While there has been a smattering of outdoor and socially distanced concerts, the arrival of the new season is more meaningful than ever.
But the Philharmonic is not reuniting with audiences in its home of six decades. While the accelerated renovation of David Geffen Hall moves forward full-throttle toward the fall 2022 reopening, the Orchestra will be out on the town, giving concerts at two Lincoln Center venues and appearing in four concerts presented at its old home, Carnegie Hall.
That’s not all that is new in 2021–22. The programming reflects the awareness of music’s power both to heal and to connect: there are works of reflection, of mourning, of hope. And, like the rest of the world, the Philharmonic is confronting many of the social injustices that are demanding a response. The Philharmonic continues to listen, learn, and grow to better represent everyone and truly serve as New York’s orchestra. The season will be enriched by the perspectives brought by an array of New York City community organizations. From the long-running Young People’s Concerts to thoughtful explorations like Authentic Selves: The Beauty Within, concerts and programs build on collaborations developed during the pandemic through NY Phil Bandwagon, which presented live music in neighborhoods across the five boroughs.
And the Orchestra brings us all back together with an enveloping hug of the music we’ve all missed: Beethoven’s Pastoral, Debussy’s La Mer, Shostakovich’s Ninth, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, and Schumann’s symphonic cycle—with a twist—led by Gustavo Dudamel. There are Gala evenings and live-to-film performances of Raiders of the Lost Ark; returning friends, like Herbert Blomstedt and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Anthony Roth Costanzo; and new collaborators, such as Justin Vivian Bond and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
Jaap van Zweden says of the season’s wide ranging repertoire and guest artists: “As we return to live orchestral concerts, the Orchestra and I cannot wait to greet our audiences with programs that are full of wonderful surprises, embracing the traditional and welcoming the new.”
Karissa Krenz is a New York–based professional in culture and the performing arts.