Your Guide to Classical Music This Fall in NYC

Here's our guide to the season's crop of sonic delights from the city’s classical-music institutions.
New York Philharmonic
Photograph: Courtesy Chris Lee Jaap van Zweden conducts New York Philharmonic
By Kurt Gottschalk |
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Baryshnikov Arts Center


Baryshnikov Arts Center (bacnyc.org) is one of midtown’s best-kept secrets, with two beautiful theaters and smaller studios that host recitals. Founded in 2005 by dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov, BAC seeks to bring all the performing arts under one roof. The center’s fall music season is only four dates but still makes for a wonderful musical offering: It opens with a salon concert featuring the Tesla Quartet playing Debussy’s breathtaking String Quartet and soprano Alexandra Smither singing Luciano Berio’s magnificently challenging Sequenza III (Sept 19, $25).

Also look for: yMusic presents the New York premiere of a chamber work by the National’s Bryce Dessner (Oct 15, $25); and Framing Time sets Morton Feldman’s translucent Triadic Memories (played here by pianist Pedja Muzijevic) with dance and lighting design (Nov 1–2, $25–30).

Photograph: San Francisco Symphony/Courtesy Jennifer Taylor

Carnegie Hall


The fall season at Carnegie Hall (carnegiehall.org) features a few programs devoted to the great men of yesterday and one great woman of today: The esteemed conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in an all-Stravinsky program that includes the venerable Rite of Spring (Oct 4, $19–$126), while the Bang on a Can All-Stars take over the grand old hall with Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Anthracite Fields (Dec 1, $45–$65). Buy tickets.

Also look for: The period instrument ensemble Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique plays two programs of Berlioz the way he would have heard it (Oct 14, 15; $15–$98); and the Czech Philharmonic pays a visit with a concert of music by their countryman Dvořák and a matinee of Mahler’s massive Symphony No. 2 (Oct 27, $18.50–$122).

Juilliard School


They may be students, but next year some of them will be leaving their Lincoln Center campus and joining the finest orchestras in the world. The Juilliard School (juilliard.edu) presents some of the city’s best classical-music programming, and much of it is free: The ensemble Axiom plays Stravinsky and Louis Andriessen (Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Oct 14; free with required ticket). Another program pairs two composers—John Corigliano, who turned 80 this year, and Nico Muhly—and features violist Nadia Sirota (Alice Tully Hall, Oct 26; free with required ticket).

Also look for: Director of the New Juilliard Ensemble and doctoral faculty member Joel Sachs makes a rare appearance at the piano, playing Ives’ Sonata No. 1 (Morse Hall, Nov 5; free tickets required); John Adams conducts the Juilliard Orchestra in a program of Brahms, Saariaho and his own Doctor Atomic Symphony (Alice Tully Hall, Dec 10; $15–$30).

The Metropolitan Museum


The Metropolitan Museum (metmuseum.org) doesn’t just provide art for the eyes, hosting music programming at its Upper East Side and Washington Heights locations. A three-concert series by the Orchestra Now considers the romantic and the erotic in art and music via a program called “Mahler and the Feminine Ideal” (Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Sept 20; $30–$50); later, vocal group Tenet explores the avant-garde of the 14th century with a bill of medieval songs (the Cloisters, Nov 3; $55).

Also look for: Renaissance ensemble Sonnambula kicks off a residency with a matinee performance built around Orlando Gibbons’ street scene “Cries of London.” (the Cloisters, Nov 17; $55); soprano Julia Bullock and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo with the American Modern Opera Company present a new, chamber version of John Adams’s Christmas oratorio El Nino in Nativity Reconsidered (the Cloisters, Dec 21, 22; $65)

Photograph: Marnie/Courtesy Richard Hubert Smith

Metropolitan Opera


Yannick Nézet-Séguin takes the reins as music director of the Metropolitan Opera (metopera.org) this season with a new staging of Verdi’s La Traviata, starring soprano Diana Damrau and tenor Juan Diego Flórez (Dec 4–Apr 27, $44–$320). As for new work, Nico Muhly’s second opera for the Met, Marnie (based on the Winston Graham novel and the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name), casts the crystalline-voiced Isabel Leonard in the lead (Oct 19–Nov 10, $30–$470). Buy tickets.

Also look for: Soprano Nicole Car makes her Met debut as Mimi in Puccini’s 19th century Rent, La Bohème (Sep 25–Dec 13, $30–$420)

Miller Theatre at Columbia University


Melissa Smey is going on a decade as executive director of Columbia University’s Miller Theatre (millertheatre.com) and, during that time, has made the house one of the most exciting venues for old and new composition. The 30th-anniversary season gives female composers a strong showing, starting with the New York premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s opera Proving Up, performed by the invaluable International Contemporary Ensemble (Sept 26, 28; $40–$75).

Also look for: The venue presents composer portraits of Kate Soper, a member of the Wet Ink Ensemble, which marks the group's 20th anniversary (Oct 27, $7–$30) and 2017 Pulitzer winner Du Yun (Nov 15, $7–$30). Plus recital by the wondrous pianist Simone Dinnerstein, performing Couperin, Schumann, Satie and Philip Glass (Dec 8, $7–$55). Also, watch for the theater’s intimate (and free) early evening Pop-Up concerts.

National Sawdust


If you prefer your formal music in an informal setting, National Sawdust offers contemporary classical in a nightclub atmosphere: works by living legend Terry Riley are played by NOVUS NY Orchestra and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street (Sept 15, $25); the wondrous violinist Miranda Cuckson plays music by (and with) pianist Michael Hersch (Sept 18, $20) and ensemble in residence Publiquartet presents a program of invigoratingly complex works by Andy Akiho (Nov 7, $29).

Also look for: Composer Joan Tower gets and 80th birthday party with a program of her works alongside compositions by Jennifer Higdon, Tania León and Julia Wolfe (Nov 11, $29).

The New York Philharmonic


The New York Philharmonic (nyphil.org) welcomes its new music director, Jaap van Zweden, who conducts this thoroughly enjoyable gala. The season opener features Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and the premiere of a new work by rising star Ashley Fure (David Geffen Hall, Sept 20 at 7pm; $79–$275). Buy tickets.

Also look for: Wunderkind pianist and, more recently, composer Conrad Tao plays Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 and gives the world premiere of his own Everything Must Go (David Geffen Hall, Sept 27, 28; $33–$105); van Zweden conducts the premiere of Louis Andriessen’s Agamemnon, alongside a couple of Stravinskys and Debussy’s ever popular La Mer as a part of The Art of Andriessen series (David Geffen Hall, Oct 4–6; $31–$130).

Photograph: Satyagraha/Courtesy Markus Gårder

Next Wave Festival


Since 1983, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual Next Wave Festival (bam.org) has brought innovative, cross-disciplinary performances to the borough. This year, composer Ted Hearne and slam poet Saul Williams present Place (Oct 11–13, $24–$50), which gives nods to R&B, gospel and BAM’s own neighborhood of Fort Greene. Also look out for Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha (Oct 31–Nov 4, $48–$60), his Mahatma Gandhi tribute that has been reimagined as a circus by Swedish companies Folkoperan and Circus Cirkör. NYC string quartet Ethel continues the three-ring extravaganza with Circus: Wandering City (Nov 14–17, $25–$40), a tribute to the rich musical and cultural history of the Ringling Bros. Circus.

Also look for: Pittsburgh Opera Company reimagines Schubert’s Winterreise as a motel room nightmare with new music by Douglas J. Cuomo (Nov 7–10, $25); and the annual presentation The Hard Nut, with the Mark Morris Dance Group respectfully updating Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic (Dec 14–23, $25–$125).

White Light Festival


At Lincoln Center, the White Light Festival (lincolncenter.org/white-light-festival) provides a reliably gorgeous and pristine program of moody, introspective works every fall. Highlights include the Takács Quartet and cellist David Requiro playing works by Schubert and Webern (Alice Tully Hall, Oct 18; $45–$80), and the celebrated violinist Hilary Hahn, who will deliver a program of Bach sonatas and partitas (Alice Tully Hall, Oct 23; $45–$80).

Also look for: all: Takács Quartet and cellist David Requiro play Schubert and Webern (Alice Tully Hall, Oct 18; $45–$80); Les Arts Florissants performs Haydn’s immaculate Die Schöpfung (The Creation) (Alice Tully Hall, Nov 15; $65–$80); and Theatre of Voices with Meta4 give the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains, directed by Peter Sellars (Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, Nov 17, 18; $35–$55)

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