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.

  • Steve Crossen

    Is there a CD of the Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert available?

  • rejean lizotte

    or a dvd?

  • Sue Kapp0ler

    As usual, amazingly good! PBS remains a connection to culture for America.

  • Jim Leighninger

    Brian Large (television director) deserves an Emmy for this production. Brilliant camera work to match the brilliant performances!

  • Vicki Morales

    Enjoyed a truly great performance, and what a trio Gil, Yoyo and Emanuel!! (saw him several times at the Hollywood Bowl in Ca.)

  • John Canner


    Great! Brilliant !

    CD or DVD, sure would be nice.

    Thank you!

  • Sven Nordquist, Jr.

    I just watched this concert in New York from Channel13/Time Warner Cable.(MAY 31, 2011)
    In Audre McDonald’s first performance, she was clearly OUT-OF-SYNC! It went awry somewhere near the middle of the vocal. It occurred during a close-up and my heart sank for her. She deserves a better effort… this was a very objectionable 3-4 frame sync mistake that lasted about 20-30m seconds! Everything else in the entire cablecast was perfect. How did this happen? Please do a better job, next time.

  • Leo Lapierre

    Shaham, Ax, Ma, along with Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic put on a great performance – TV at its best.

    thank you PBS

  • S. Wellingotn Chambers

    Just about the most magnificent concert i can remember being at [this time on pbs]. I hope pbs will rebroadcast it, that Carnegie hall permits it. And yes, when will the CD and the DVD come out? The orchestra, the solists, everyone appropriately honored this great hall. I wonder if the Philharmonic will be yearning for a permanent return there now, given all the acoustic problems that Pholharmonic Hall has had over the years ever since its inception at Lincoln Center.

  • Bru Bio

    Where can I find the CREDITS for this performance.

    I would like to see the performers of the N. Y. Philharmonic who participated . . . .

    Thank you

  • Edward Barrall II

    Simply incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Art, technique and technology at their best.

  • O

    She’s absolutely terrible. What a disgrace to Ellington. The overdone voice and the lack of authentic style- boring and more boring. So horrific. Thank God Yo-Yo Ma was there for some relief.

  • S Kramer

    Brilliant!! Beautiful !! We have to see and hear this again. Thank you PBS!!

  • Moneca Qayumi

    The May 5, 2011 Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Gala Concert which was broadcast May 31, 2011 on Great Performances was just that, a truly great performance! I am grateful that such magnificent music could reach me here in Gilbert, AZ. Having grown up attending concerts by the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of George Szell, I have heard many memorable performances of Beethoven’s works. The New York Philharmonic under Gilbert’s conducting was absolutely wonderful in the Beethoven Triple Concerto, as were the three soloists, Ma,Ax, and Shaham. It was a pleasure both to hear the musical mastery of all involved, and to see the joy and communication between the soloists and the conductor. Gershwin’s American in Paris was performed and conducted with gusto and was a delight to hear. Just the right tempo, all the right feeling.

    Bravo to the performers, and many thanks to PBS for bringing this great program to music lovers all across America. My fellow listeners, let us not be petty about imperfections, let us be grateful for all that was superb!
    A memorable concert, and another reason to support PBS.

  • Dennis Noson

    I agree most enthusiastically. And I might add, from where I sat, the audio production was as close to perfect as I’ve ever experienced, balanced, warm, and reverberant. Sounded a lot like the Carnegie Hall!

  • KOW

    In NYC they will re-air it Thursday 12:30AM (Wed. night). Will have the DVR set for the Ax, Gil, Ma, Triple Concerto, that was a great performance indeed!

  • Kaaren Boullosa

    I enjoyed the broadcast immensely, but while hating to be a wet blanket, would like to point out a couple of thins: there are other cellists in the world besides Yo-Yo Ma – I’m really tired of seeing him automatically show up at every concert of this kind, not least because privately many musicians believe him to be no Rostropovich let alone Piatagorsky – few will say so publicly, but his reputation in many of our opinions far exceeds his actual abilities, particularly his tone, which is way short of rich and beautiful. Do you think you could pull in someone else one of these days? And Audra McDonald is an engaging and charming woman with a nice voice, but it’s not the kind of voice the Duke’s music really requires. She’s really a Broadway belter, no Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holliday or Sarah Vaughn.

    I know the Ma and McDonald, probably moreso than Shaham and Ax, are better known to the broader public, but it would be nice to see musical ability override “name recognition” occasionally. That said, I really did enjoy the concert, particularly the Beethoven, which blew everything else out of water.

  • Christie Lerch

    I came in on the concert a bit late and missed the name of the Beethoven piece. I looked for a place to click for it on your site but couldn’t find it. Luckily a few of the Replyers told me, but do you think you might add such info., or did I just miss the place? I couldn’t view the video because my computer won’t play the latest Firefox.

    Thanks for showing it, superb classical music concert.

  • david ernst

    Hi Christie,

    The piece is noted above in this post. It’s Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56. Hope this is helpful.

  • Laura Fincham

    This was wonderful and I really hope it comes on again. Does anyone know when it might replay? It was such a treat!

  • Eric Gschwandtner

    Is there a possibility of replaying this incredible performance of the Triple Concerto soon?

  • Edwin O.

    My first time ever watching an orchestra play.My first time ever seeing any of the performers.I happen to be
    channel surfing and stopped on PBS momentarily and could not get myself to change the channel.I have to
    say I loved it!!! I’m actually looking forward to any up coming shows.This is from a guy who has been listening
    to Rap/Hip Hop music since its inception back in the late 70’s. You have to appreciate the artistic form and all
    the effort put forth by these people to produce such great sounds and play together in perfect harmony… BRAVO!

  • Julio Jeri

    Are DVD’s available yet??

  • kristina

    does anyone know the playlist/playbill for this concert? I’m doing a report on the concert, but I do not know all the songs- any help would be great!


  • kristina

    nevermind…. :) I found it!

    DVOŘÁK Carnival Overture, Op. 92
    BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56
    ELLINGTON “Solitude”
    ELLINGTON “Sophisticated Lady”
    ELLINGTON “On a Turquoise Cloud”
    ELLINGTON “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing”
    GERSHWIN An American in Paris

  • Jon

    The question is whether to go more operatic – but, as long as you have to mic the voice (unless you’re willing to sound even more like a late opera by Richard Strauss with rhythm section), why would you choose Renee Fleming? Not that she wouldn’t have sung beautifully, but trying to represent jazz singing today with someone who actually sings jazz – and working the orchestra around that, was probably the better compromise – especially when the orchestra impressively seemed to meet her more than halfway. I didn’t find her voice to be too bad – then again, I’ve heard a lot of mediocre opera singers singing opera lately – and I’m finding myself having to adjust across the board anyways.

  • Albert

    As seems to be the custom for Atlanta area viewers now, the concert was not telecast on our PBS affiliates. One can only hope that it becomes available either online or on DVD.

    It seems it is useless to write to our local PBS stations complaining about the fact that we hardly ever get their arts programs anymore, and when we do, its either “Celtic Woman” or a rock concert. They don’t care, they never answer back, and they don’t lift a finger to do anything about the problem. And yet they ramble on and on during the pledge drives about how wonderful their shows are. Not so much anymore, I’m afraid.

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