In Sunday’s (6/2) New York Times, William Robin writes, “An evening celebrating symphonic jazz, a Stravinsky blowout, a rare 1940s opera revived: Gilbert’s Playlist, a month-long festival of the New York Philharmonic, has arrived, honoring the programming proclivities of Alan Gilbert, the orchestra’s music director. But it might also have happened 50 years ago. In the early years of his tenure as the Philharmonic’s music director, Leonard Bernstein brought a similarly ambitious vision to orchestral programming, introducing themes and festivals to the regular season. … As Mr. Gilbert prepares for the first NY Phil Biennial next season, an ambitious citywide celebration of contemporary music, some will think back to Bernstein’s efforts to win acceptance for new music, including his Avant-Garde Festival at Philharmonic Hall in 1964. … Bernstein’s innovations went far beyond the two initiatives most associated with him: the Mahler revival and the Young People’s Concerts. He also pioneered thematic programming. In his 1958-59 season, Bernstein provided an overview of American music, from early unknowns like Chadwick to Ives and Copland. … Bernstein had his own conception of what the public should get. He programmed Cage, Feldman, and Earle Brown in a ‘Music of Chance’ concert alongside a composition generated randomly by a computer and a free improvisation by the orchestra.”

Posted June 3, 2013