The American Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1962 by conducting legend Leopold Stokowski and led since 1992 by its music director, Leon Botstein, will relocate back to its original home, New York’s Carnegie Hall, beginning with its 2010-11 season. Inspired by the orchestra’s mission to showcase “concerts of great music within the means of everyone,” the move back to the orchestra’s original venue complements the successful audience-development initiative instituted by the ASO this season that will continue in the orchestra’s new home: all tickets to its 2010-11 season at Carnegie Hall will remain at $25 for all seats, for all performances. With the appeal of eminently affordable tickets, the ASO’s celebrated thematically-organized programming, and Carnegie Hall’s status as the world’s pre-eminent concert hall, Botstein and the orchestra have provided music lovers with more reasons than ever to discover and explore the unjustly neglected masterpieces that define the singular ASO concert experience.
“The American Symphony Orchestra was born in Carnegie Hall and we are very excited to be returning there. It was through the generosity of Nat Leventhal [the former president of Lincoln Center] that the orchestra moved to Lincoln Center, but we thought it was time for a change. Carnegie Hall is a great hall, and I think we will stand out in a constructive way there with our programming. We are grateful to Lincoln Center for their support over these many exciting years of performing there.” Leon Botstein
The American Symphony Orchestra has, under Botstein’s leadership, gained increasing renown as a pioneer in the area of thematic programming. Both in live performances and on recordings, the ASO has presented numerous U.S. premieres of lesser-known masterpieces, often triggering broader interest in worthy works in need of determined advocacy. For example, the ASO’s premiere of Dukas’s Ariane et Barbe-bleue during the 1998-99 season resulted in the opera’s staging by New York City Opera in 2005, and then its recording by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Similarly, the American opera house revivals of Richard Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena and Die Liebe der Danae were influenced by the ASO’s already having championed the works in 1998 and 2000.
New York magazine named the ASO’s annual concert series “one of the best-programmed music series in New York City,” with veteran critic Peter G. Davis observing, “Trust Botstein to tweak every American Symphony Orchestra concert program with some intriguing discoveries from the past, all thematically related.” The New York Times has called Botstein “a champion of neglected works,” while the New Yorker declared, “Leon Botstein goes where other conductors fear to tread.”
The American Symphony Orchestra’s first concert was held in the main auditorium at Carnegie Hall on October 15, 1962. Stokowski led the ensemble in a program featuring his own arrangements of the Star-Spangled Banner and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, as well as a selection from Gabrieli’s Sacrae symphoniae, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Susan Starr, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. Beginning in the 1993-94 season, Lincoln Center’s “Great Performers” series presented the orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, where it continues its current season with a program entitled “An American Biography: The Music of Henry Cowell” on January 29, 2010. Besides its concerts at Lincoln Center this season, the ASO is also exploring Beethoven’s nine symphonies in its popular “Classics Declassified” series at Symphony Space. In summer 2010, the ASO returns to Bard College in the Hudson Valley for its annual residency at the Bard SummerScape Festival and Bard Music Festival, which will focus on “Berg and His World.” The ASO’s 2010-11 season will open at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. Subscriptions will go on sale in spring 2010 and single tickets in summer 2010; full details will follow in the forthcoming season release.