UMS Announces New York Philharmonic Opening Night Simulcast, Jeremy Irons as Speaker for Bernstein’s ‘Kaddish’ Symphony

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The University Musical Society of the University of Michigan (UMS) announced that British actor Jeremy Irons will be the Speaker for the Hill Auditorium performance of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”) that closes the 2017 New York Philharmonic residency on Sunday, November 19.

Additionally, in collaboration with the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s Nights at the Museum series, UMS will present a live simulcast of the Philharmonic’s Opening Night Gala concert on Tuesday, September 19, projected on the South State Street side of the UMMA façade.

The opening gala concert features the New York Philharmonic performing Mahler’s emotionally powerful Symphony No. 5, under the baton of music director designate Jaap van Zweden. Van Zweden makes his UMS debut on Friday, November 17 in Hill Auditorium, leading the same work with the New York Philharmonic in the opening concert of the Michigan residency.

The final two concerts of the Michigan residency are part of Bernstein’s Philharmonic: A Centennial Festival, the New York Philharmonic’s multi-week celebration of the legacy of Leonard Bernstein, the former Philharmonic music director and laureate conductor, on the centennial of his birth.

On Saturday, November 18, Leonard Slatkin leads the Philharmonic in a Young People’s Concert — the series that Bernstein famously brought to national attention through television broadcasts — titled Inspirations and Tributes: “Celebrating Leonard Bernstein.” That concert will feature pianist Makoto Ozone, as well as two University of Michigan musical theater students, who will be cast in the roles of Tony and Maria for the West Side Story segment of the program.

On Sunday, November 19, Slatkin leads the Philharmonic in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”) with British actor Jeremy Irons as speaker and soprano Tamara Wilson. A Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, Tony, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Award-winning actor, Irons is praised for his performances on the screen (The French Lieutenant’s Woman, M. Butterfly, Lolita, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Reversal of Fortune), on the stage (Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, National Theatre London and Royal Shakespeare Company), and on television (Elizabeth I, The Borgias, The Hollow Crown). Wilson, a soprano who has performed major roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Theatre alla Scala, and English National Opera, is the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award.

Bernstein dedicated his “Kaddish” symphony to the memory of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated less than three weeks before the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra premiered the work in December 1963. In the Jewish liturgy Kaddish is used as a prayer for mourners, though it never explicitly mentions death. The structure and content of the symphony reflect Bernstein’s complex relationship with religion and his nuanced reflections on faith and mortality.

Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, with principal viola Cynthia Phelps and principal cello Carter Brey, is also on the program. Bernstein made his New York Philharmonic debut at age 25 with this work, famously filling in with only a few hours’ notice and without rehearsal for an ailing Bruno Walter.
A full roster of free, related residency events will be announced in late September.

New York Philharmonic Opening Gala Concert Simulcast
Tuesday, September 19 // 7:30-9 pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art

The New York Philharmonic performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 — the same work as its opening concert in Ann Arbor two months later — under the baton of music director designate Jaap van Zweden. This concert is presented in partnership with the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s “Nights at the Museum” series.

Performance #1
New York Philharmonic
Jaap van Zweden, conductor
Friday, November 17 // 8 pm
Hill Auditorium
Tickets: or 734-764-2538

Mahler Symphony No. 5

Performance #2
Inspirations and Tributes: “Celebrating Leonard Bernstein”
New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Makoto Ozone, piano
Saturday, November 18 // 2 pm
Hill Auditorium
Tickets: or 734-764-2538

Overture to Candide
Selections from On the Town
“Masque” from Symphony No. 2 (“The Age of Anxiety”)
“Profanation” from Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”)
Selections from West Wide Story

Performance #3
New York Philharmonic
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Cynthia Phelps, principal viola
Carter Brey, principal cello
Tamara Wilson, soprano
Jeremy Irons, narrator
UMS Choral Union / Scott Hanoian, director
Michigan State University Children’s Choir / Kyle Zeuch, director
Sunday, November 19 // 3 pm
Hill Auditorium
Tickets: or 734-764-2538

R. Strauss Don Quixote, Op. 35
Bernstein Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”)

For tickets and more information about the concerts, contact or 734-764-2538.

The New York Philharmonic’s Michigan residency is funded in part by Friends of the UMS New York Philharmonic Residency, initiated with a generous challenge gift from Rachel Bendit and Mark Bernstein.

This post was generated from a University Musical Society press release.

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