the mannes orchestra performs new and landmark works of downtown music

Alan Pierson's debut concert with the Mannes Orchestra will feature the New York premiere of Philip Glass's Symphony No. 10, Steve Reich's Tehellim, and a forgotten work by composer and underground dance music legend Arthur Russell

The Mannes Orchestra performs at Alice Tully Hall

February 18, 2020, New York - In recent seasons, the Mannes Orchestra has carved out a reputation for presenting some of the most daring and imaginative performances of any collegiate orchestra today. Recent groundbreaking performances including world premieres of works by Julius Eastman and Johanna Beyer, a 2019 all-Copland concert featuring a new dramatic staging of Copland’s showdown with Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the first ever screening of Fog of War by Errol Morris with live orchestra (scored by Philip Glass). 

This March at Alice Tully Hall, Mannes continues to stake out its reputation as the only collegiate orchestra to consistently challenge convention with a concert that celebrates New York’s Downtown Music scene. The evening will feature three works – one new, one masterpiece, and one forgotten – from three giants of New York’s avant-garde.

With Alan Pierson at the podium, the program opens with excerpts from “Instrumentals”, an expansive work by darling of New York’s underground music scene, Arthur Russell. Russell was a cellist, composer, pop artist, and a lyricist whose writing Allen Ginsberg compared to that of William Carlos Williams. Russell’s star shone brightly as he moved seamlessly across music scenes, curating at the Kitchen, writing pop music, and collaborating with the likes of Philip Glass and Julius Eastman, before his tragic death from AIDS-related illness in 1992.

Russell described “Instrumentals” as being influenced by the “bright-sound and magical qualities of the bubblegum and easy-listening currents in American popular music” in the 1970s. The work is emblematic of the unique ways that Russell was able to take threads from pop, folk, classical, and other traditions, to create his own unique sound. First performed in 1975, the work has not been played since Russell’s death. This version of Instrumentals has been reconstructed by Pierson along with composer Peter Gordon and composition students at Mannes.

After “Instrumentals”, Pierson and the orchestra will pair Steve Reich and Philip Glass with two works that showcase the tremendous breadth of style and unique sound worlds of each of these giants of Downtown Music. 

Pierson, who Time Out New York describes as “perhaps Reich’s greatest living advocate”, will first lead the orchestra in a performance of Reich’s Tehellim. They will take on the orchestral version of the work, a rendition that was premiered by Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic in 1982.

Following Tehellim will be the New York premiere of Symphony No. 10 by Philip Glass, a work that showcases the full sonic potential of the symphony orchestra.

Aside from their driving rhythms, the two works contrast in nearly every way: Reich understated and ethereal, and Glass with blazing brass, relentless forward motion, and unexpected shifts in mood and tone.

"The New York downtown music scene in the 1970s and 80s has had a profound influence on American music and culture," said Alan Pierson. "These three artists shaped and were shaped by that community. In the years since, Reich and Glass became titans of the international music scene, while Arthur Russell's career was cut short prematurely by the scourge of AIDS. I'm so gratified to be creating with Mannes students this program that brings these three artists back together in New York again." 

This program of technically demanding works is a testament not only to the prowess and daring of the students of the Mannes Orchestra, but also is an object lesson in the range and diversity of styles that comprise Downtown Music of the present and the past.

Indeed, there is more to contrast than compare when it comes to Reich and Glass. As Reich stated in an interview with Bruce Duffe, “Of course I want to be known for what it is that I do; Berg’s not Webern and Ravel’s not Debussy, although you can certainly confuse them here and there. There are obviously reasons why we’re put together, and to those who become interested in the music, the differences are what becomes interesting, and those differences become greater as the years pass”

The students of the Mannes Orchestra take the stage under the leadership of Alan Pierson at Alice Tully Hall on March 13, 7:30pm. Tickets are $10. This concert is presented in partnership with The Philip Glass Institute at The New School.

Russell - Excerpts from “Instrumentals”
Reich -  Tehillim (the orchestra will be joined by vocalists from Mannes School of Music)
Glass - Symphony No. 10
Friday, March 13, 7:30pm

Alice Tully Hall, 1941 Broadway, New York, NY, 10023

$10 available via, the Alice Tully Hall Box Office, or CenterCharge at 212.721.6500
More info here

The College of Performing Arts at The New School (CoPA) was formed in 2015 and brings together the iconic Mannes School of Music, the legendary School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the ground-breaking School of Drama. With each school contributing its unique culture of creative excellence, the College of Performing Arts is a hub for cross-disciplinary collaboration, bold experimentation, innovative education, and world-class performances. 

As a part of The New School, students across CoPA experience a supportive and rigorous environment that provides abundant opportunities for collaboration with students and faculty in a wide array of disciplines including the visual arts, fashion, design and technology, architecture, philosophy, psychology, public policy, advocacy, and more. CoPA has over 1100 students seeking degrees and diplomas in performance, composition, acting, writing, as well as arts management and entrepreneurship. New York City’s Greenwich Village provides the backdrop for the College of Performing Arts, which is housed at Arnhold Hall on West 13th Street and the historic Westbeth Artists Community on Bank Street.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.


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Media Contacts:

Will Wilbur,
The New School

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