What can I say? I'm a sucker for a free lunch.
Continuing the parade of performing arts institutions eager to trot out their offerings to members of the scribbling class, Carnegie Hall announced its 2014–15 season today in their posh Rohatyn Room. Mind you, I still don't know what I'm doing next month, much less next year, but this was a well organized, thoughtful presentation by Carnegie's charming and eloquent majordomo, Clive Gillinson, now entering his 10th season as Executive and Artistic Director.
Since Clive's arrival in 2005, Carnegie has hosted one major festival each year, and next year's "UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa" promises to be the most ambitious to date. Dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela, the three-week festival (October 10–November 5) will encompass popular and indigenous music, dance, theater, film, and the visual arts. Among those scheduled to appear are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Hugh Masekela, along with a wide variety of artists never before seen in New York.
Opening the season will be the Berlin Philharmonic, who will perform four concerts at Carnegie—including the opening-night gala with Perspectives artist Anne-Sophie Mutter. In an unprecedented display of cooperation with Lincoln Center, the Berliners will also appear on the White Light Festival for two performances Peter Sellars' acclaimed production of Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the Park Avenue Armory.
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will be the other Perspectives artist next season, performing everything from Baroque and bel canto opera to new music by Jake Heggie. DiDonato was engaging and ebullient in her brief conversation with Clive. "I was so excited to get your invitation!" she exclaimed. "It's like being given a blank check at Carnegie Hall!"
Meredith Monk, who this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of her arrival in NYC, will be next season's Debs Composer Chair. In addition to appearances by her own ensemble, the St. Louis Symphony will present the first NY performance of her orchestral work Weave, written in 2010.
"What I find remarkable," Clive remarked, "is that these are all great artists that are focused on their role in the community." What he didn't mention is that this is also the first time that all three residency positions have been held by women in the same season; clearly Clive's too classy to actually point that out.
That's not to say the morning wasn't without its awkward moments. In mentioning an upcoming performance of Spem in alium by the Tallis Scholars, part of the new Before Bach series, Clive felt it necessary to point out that "the music appears in the novel Fifty Shades of Grey." Ugh: Why couldn't he have just referenced Janet Cardiff's installation?
In September, the Resnick Education Wing opens on the upper floors of Carnegie, and will become the new base of operations for both the Weill Music Institute and Ensemble ACJW. To celebrate the opening of the facility, Carnegie will host its first-ever Family Day on September 21; leave your inflatable rats at home.
Clive ended his tidy hour-long presentation by addressing the media swirl over recent claims that classical music is dead. (For the record: Classical music isn't dead, it's just ridiculously lame.) He noted that the average age of a single ticket buyer at Carnegie has fallen by five years over the past seven seasons, and that nearly 450,000 people took part in their education and community programs last year. "I'm not in the slightest worried about the future of music," he proclaimed. I wish I were so certain.
During the brief Q&A (I asked the only question), I asked Clive how many subscriptions versus single tickets are being sold these days. His response was forthright and thorough. "Fifty percent," he said, "and that does reflect a decrease versus what it used to be, but it's been holding steady at that point. It reflects a shift in our culture at large, particularly among young people. Fortunately, since we don't repeat performances, we're better set up than many others to adjust for that." Hear, hear.
Tickets for the 2014–15 season go on sale August 25, though subscribers can put in their dibs now. More info on the upcoming season here.