Friday, September 15, 2017

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony

Xian Banner.jpg

Alban Gerhardt performs Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme

Concerts feature NJSO premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Musica celestis

NJSO Chamber Players to perform Kernis string quartet in Oct 13 NJSO Accent event with the composer

Thu, Oct 12, at NJPAC in Newark

Fri, Oct 13, at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton

Sat, Oct 14, at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank

Sun, Oct 15, at NJPAC in Newark

NEWARK, NJ—The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Xian Zhang perform melodic works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Kernis, October 12–15 in Newark, Princeton and Red Bank. The program features Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and the NJSO premiere of Kernis’ Musica celestis. Cello virtuoso Alban Gerhardt joins the Orchestra for the Tchaikovsky work.

Performances take place on Thursday, October 12, at 1:30 pm and Sunday, October 15, at 3 pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark; Friday, October 13, at 8 pm at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton and Saturday, October 14, at 8 pm at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.

Members of the NJSO Chamber Players will perform the Kernis string quartet that was orchestrated as Musica celestis in a special NJSO Accent event with the composer on October 13 at 6:45 pm. The Prelude Performance features NJSO Assistant Concertmaster David Southorn, violinist Minji Kwon, Assistant Principal Viola Elzbieta Weyman and Acting Assistant Principal Cello Na-Young Baek. Kernis and the musicians will chat about the string quartet and orchestral versions of Musica celestis before audiences hear the work in each form.

Accent events also include a Prelude Performance by the Outreach Orchestra of the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra one hour before the October 12 performance, as well as Classical Conversations one hour before the October 14 and 15 performances.

Concert tickets start at $20 and are available for purchase at or 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476).


Zhang Conducts Beethoven

Thu, Oct 12, at 1:30 pm | NJPAC in Newark

Fri, Oct 13, at 8 pm | Richardson Auditorium in Princeton

Sat, Oct 14, at 8 pm | Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank

Sun, Oct 15, at 3 pm | NJPAC in Newark

Xian Zhang, conductor

Alban Gerhardt, cello

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

KERNIS Musica celestis (NJSO premiere)

TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”

Learn more at

Novo Nordisk is concert sponsor of the October 13 performance. Bank of America is concert sponsor of the October 15 performance.


Prelude Performance—Thu, Oct 12, before the concert
Come early and take in a special Prelude Performance featuring the Outreach Orchestra of the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra, conducted by Michelle Hatcher.

Prelude Performance—Fri, Oct 13 at 6:45 pm
Enjoy a unique performance experience when members of the NJSO perform a string quartet of Aaron Jay Kernis.

Classical Conversation—Sat, Oct 14 at 7 pm and Sun, Oct 15 at 2 pm
Enjoy a lively Classical Conversation before the performance. Learn more about the music from NJSO musicians, guest artists and other engaging insiders.


Xian Zhang, conductor

In an acclaimed first season as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Xian Zhang “clearly made her mark,” NJ Advance Media writes. “Now it’s time to see how high [the Orchestra] can soar.” Zhang continues her tenure in 2017–18 with performances of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Mahler’s First Symphony and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, among others.

In September 2016, Zhang assumed the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales, becoming the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra; the season culminated in a televised BBC Proms performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, anticipating the start of a two-year project devoted to the composer’s complete symphonies. Another highlight of her 2017–18 BBC NOW season is a concert tour of Wales. Zhang is also Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following completion of her tenure as Music Director from 2009–16.

Forthcoming engagements include returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orquesta Nacional de España and Savonlinna Opera Festival, as well as debuts with the San Francisco Symphony and NAC Orchestra, Ottawa. Zhang is a regular conductor of the London Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras; recent highlights include her debut with The Cleveland Orchestra and a gala concert with Renée Fleming and the China NCPA Orchestra.

Born in Dandong, China, Zhang made her professional debut conducting The Marriage of Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing at the age of 20. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and serving one year on its conducting faculty before moving to the United States in 1998. She was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, then became its Associate Conductor and first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.

Alban Gerhardt, cello

For 25 years, Alban Gerhardt has made a unique impact on audiences worldwide with his intense musicality, compelling stage presence and insatiable artistic curiosity. His gift for shedding fresh light on familiar scores, along with his appetite for investigating new repertoire from centuries past and present, truly sets him apart from his peers.

Highlights of his 2017–18 season include concerts with NDR Hamburg, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Washington National, New Jersey and Iceland symphony orchestras. Gerhardt also will give recitals at Berlin’s Konzerthaus and London’s Wigmore Hall and in Montreal and Vancouver. A European quintet tour takes him to Luxembourg, Tonhalle Zurich and Amsterdam Muziekgebouw.

Gerhardt is passionate about sharing his discoveries with audiences far beyond the traditional concert hall: outreach projects undertaken in Europe and the US have involved performances and workshops, not only in schools and hospitals, but also pioneering sessions in public spaces and young offender institutions. His collaboration with Deutsche Bahn, involving live performances on the main commuter routes in Germany, vividly demonstrates his commitment to challenging traditional expectations of classical music. In early 2017, Gerhardt founded Musicians4UnitedEurope, a group of international musicians working together to voice their support for a united Europe.

Gerhardt had early competition success and his 1991 debut with Berliner Philharmoniker and Semyon Bychkov launched his international career. Notable orchestra collaborations since include the Royal Concertgebouw, London Philharmonic, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago Symphony orchestras; under conductors such as Kurt Masur, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christian Thielemann, Christoph Eschenbach, Myung-Whun Chung, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Jurowski, Kirill Petrenko and Andris Nelsons. He is also a keen chamber musician; his regular performance partners include Steven Osborne, Baiba Skride and Brett Dean.


Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People performances, NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide through the NJSO’s REACH (Resources for Education and Community Harmony) program.

For more information about the NJSO, visit or email Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

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