At the beginning of the 2020-2021 concert season, the New York Philharmonic canceled all previously scheduled concerts starting in the fall of 2020, and further from January 6 to June 13, 2021, due to COVID-19. For the first time in its 178-year history, the New York Philharmonic was forced to cancel an entire concert season.
Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda said: “The cancellation of the entire New York Philharmonic season is not only unprecedented, but also devastating in its impact on musician and public morale and in its profound economic implications. We know there was no other choice, but we also know that music matters most when listened to together. Most importantly, the Philharmonic Orchestra is determined to continue to connect with the audience and perform during this stressful time and beyond. It will not be a season of silence and we look forward to September 2021 when the entire orchestra will be able to reunite with our audience. ”
The orchestra of the New York Philharmonic even a little earlier than this was given the opportunity to perform live with the main cast: on June 13, according to tradition, he gave a free annual concert dedicated to Memorial Day. On May 31, 2021, for the 29th time, the concert took place at Saint John Cathedral in Manhattan, albeit with all the restrictions that were taken for the safety of both musicians and listeners during the pandemic. Cathedral of Saint John (Cathedral of St. John the Divine) is the sixth largest church in the world in area and the largest Anglican cathedral. Therefore, it is used for many public events, concerts, art exhibitions. The Cathedral also hosted major ritual ceremonies – funerals or memorial services – for such famous people as George Balanchine, Joseph Brodsky, Duke Ellington, Deasy Gillespie, Allen Ginsberg, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nikola Tesla and others. It was an unusual, even somewhat mystical sight when orchestras in black suits and black masks appeared in the central nave of the Cathedral. They took their places, observing the social distance prescribed by the doctors, and only after that did those who play the wind instruments removed their masks. The conductor Mrs. Gemma New also came out in a black mask, and as a traditional handshake with the first violin, he, the violinist, touched his hand to the elbow that Gemma New extended to him. The concert was broadcast on Zelenaya Polyana next to the Cathedral building, as well as live online.
To ensure the health and safety of the concert listeners, everyone who wished to enter the Cathedral grounds had to be fully vaccinated. The program of the concert, which was called “A Journey from the Dark to the Sublime,” “classical” works: Mahler, Adagietto from Symphony No. 5; Mozart, Masonic Funeral Music; Schubert, Symphony in B minor, (unfinished) and the music of contemporary composers: the musical “The Lower East Side in My Youth” by Jesse Montgomery and Carlos Simon’s Beethoven-inspired ode to victory over fate. A young but already very experienced conductor, Ms. Gemma New was born on December 27, 1986 in the capital of New Zealand, Wellington, into a musical family. She began studying violin at age 5 and piano at age 8. By the age of 12, she was already playing in the Wellington Youth Orchestra. After entering Canterbury University, Gemma studied physics, mathematics and music and graduated with a degree in music, and later received a degree in music from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore (USA, Maryland). Later Gemma worked as an assistant to the chief conductor of orchestras in New Jersey, Los Angeles. In May 2015, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) appointed Gemma New as its next music director, making her the first female conductor ever to be appointed. Soon Gemma New became the principal conductor of the orchestra, first in St. Louis and then in Dallas. In March 2021, the US Salty Foundation declared Ms. Gemma New the 12th recipient of the Sir Georg Soltie Award for Conducting.
After the Memorial Day concert with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Gemme New will have a number of other serious performances. She makes her Hollywood Bowl debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival and Grand Teton Music Festival. Followed by her Australian debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and directing the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival. Ms. New’s 2021–2022 season includes performances with the US National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), the Montreal, Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, Minnesota symphony orchestras. She will also make her opera debut in Los Angeles at the premiere of Kevin Poots’ opera The Brightness of the Light with soprano Renee Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfrey.
Gemma New will also conduct orchestras in Europe for the first time: WDR Sinfonieorchester, BBC Philharmonic, Halle Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Ile-de-France National Orchestra.