Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic

About the Concert

On May 5, 2011, Carnegie Hall will commemorate its 120th anniversary with an all-star gala concert featuring conductor Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic and special guests pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma,  violinist Gil Shaham, and the four-time Tony Award-winning singer and actress Audra McDonald.

Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert — featuring the works of Ludwig von Beethoven, Duke Ellington, Antonin Dvořák, and George Gershwin — will air as part of Great Performances on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 from 8-9:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media partners.

The eclectic, crowd-pleasing program is set to include Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C major, Op. 56, performed by Ax, Ma, and Shaham, a selection of Duke Ellington songs – including “Solitude,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “On a Turquoise Cloud,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing” — performed by McDonald, and full performances of Antonin Dvořák’s Carnival Overture and George Gershwin’s An American in Paris.

Dvořák conducted his Carnival Overture with the Boston Symphony at Carnegie Hall when he came to New York to assume his post as director of the National Conservatory of Music on October 21, 1892.

Gershwin’s An American in Paris was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and conducted by Walter Damrosch in the New York premiere on December 13, 1928 at Carnegie Hall. (The concert hall was the home base of the New York Philharmonic until the orchestra moved to its current location at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in 1962.)

Ellington played his first historic Carnegie Hall concert on January 23, 1943, beginning an extraordinary series of concerts there of his long-form works.

In the late 1800’s, New York City was emerging as an international capital, and composers were flourishing in the classical world. In 1891, Carnegie Hall, founded by industrialist and entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie, opened its doors as simply “Music Hall” on May 5, 1891 with none other than Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducting. It was renamed “Carnegie Hall” in 1893 when Carnegie allowed the use of his name and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.

Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert is a co-production of Carnegie Hall and THIRTEEN for WNET.  For Great Performances, John Walker, Cara Cosentino, and Mitch Owgang are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; and David Horn is executive producer. It will be directed for television by Brian Large.

Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, The Anna Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, The Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Victor and Sono Elmaleh, Vivian Milstein, the Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and Joseph A. Wilson, with additional funding in memory of Virginia and Leonard Marx.

The television broadcast of this concert is supported by S. Donald Sussman, with additional support to Carnegie Hall from the National Endowment for the Arts.