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New York City Ballet: The Red Violin, In Memory of…, Stravinsky Violin Concerto
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New York City Ballet: The Red Violin, In Memory of…, Stravinsky Violin Concerto

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

See the Music…
The Red Violin
In Memory of…
Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Founders: George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master: Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Music Director: Andrew Litton
Resident Choreographer: Justin Peck
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 10, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrew Litton

See the Music… Andrew Litton, City Ballet Music Director and tonight’s Conductor, led the “See the Music” opening performance with excerpts of John Corigliano’s The Red Violin, also called Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, used as the score for the film with the same name as the ballet. As it happened, Mr. Corigliano was in the audience and spoke briefly in gratitude for the recognition of his music. This was one of the best See the Music… programs ever, in which the orchestra rises from the pit and is featured in an educational lead-in to one of the program’s important scores.

The Red Violin (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra) (2006): Music by John Corigliano, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Carole Divet, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Solo Violinist: Philippe Quint, Performed by Unity Phelan, Taylor Stanley, Megan LeCrone, Zachary Catazaro, Harrison Coll, Joseph Gordon, Emilie Gerrity, Lauren King. It has been quite some time since I last saw this Peter Martins ballet, and it was as exquisite as ever. This ballet, part of 2006 The Diamond Project, is choreographed to John Corigliano’s The Red Violin, the wrenching score from a 1998, riveting film.

Philippe Quint, Guest Artist, has recorded Corigliano’s “Red Violin Caprices” for Naxos. Andrew Litton, Conductor, was one of the original four artists who commissioned this extraordinary score. Tonight the Concerto was performed by Mr. Quint with requisite poignancy, pathos, and passion. Unity Phelan wore the brilliant, red costume, partnered by Taylor Stanley, in one of his finest performances yet. His fresh take on the role was obvious, in this powerful, percussive score, and Ms. Phelan maintained tantalizing tension. Megan LeCrone, in purple, Lauren King, in yellow, and Emilie Gerrity, in aqua, were joined by Zachary Catazaro, Harrison Coll, and Joseph Gordon. In the ensemble, I noted the exceptional charisma of Mr. Coll. Kudos to Mr. Corigliano, and kudos to Peter Martins, for creating this stunning ballet.

In Memory of…(1985): Music by Alban Berg, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Dain Marcus, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Solo Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Tiler Peck, Jared Angle, Zachary Catazaro, and the Company. Berg’s violin concerto was written in tribute to the late daughter of a friend, “dedicated to an angel”. The music is divided into three sections, depicting her life, her illness, and her “transfiguration”. (NYCB Notes)

Tiler Peck, as the youthful woman fallen ill, and her attentive partner, Jared Angle, were yearning, vulnerable, and so eager to ward off the figure of death. Zachary Catazaro, as that figure, seized the spotlight and made it into a grander visual experience. Ms. Peck danced with glowing, youthful fervor, catching the eye immediately with her enchanting take as the afflicted young woman. When she let her hair down and “swam” in the air (a repetitive element in Robbins ballets), as she was carried aloft, the Corps became angels. Kurt Nikkanen’s violin solos were sumptuous and searing. The Corps danced in a warm hue, thanks to Jennifer Tipton’s lighting design. You can listen to this Alban Berg score, a 1935 violin concerto, composed on the death from polio of Alma Manon Gropius, the eighteen year-old daughter of Alma Mahler and the architect Walter Gropius.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Solo Violinist: Lydia Hong, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Lauren Lovette, Chase Finlay, and the Company. Maestro Litton has come a long way in conducting the Stravinsky Violin Concerto, as tonight the rendering of the ballet score was exceptionally astute and musically pulsating. Balanchine’s Concerto was requisitely severe and searing, atonal, edgy, and intense.

With a simple blue backdrop, and black tights that extend below the slippers, Mr. Balanchine fashioned unembellished imagery for his four-movement work, re-choreographed for the 1972 City Ballet Stravinsky Festival. In the “Toccata”, Maria Kowroski with Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Lauren Lovette with Chase Finlay led an ensemble of sixteen. This ballet is replete with dynamic propulsion and daring partnering,
Mr. Danchig-Waring’s visual shapes and speed were remarkable, as he partnered Ms. Kowroski in Aria I. Her low-level, spider-like turns on the stage, winding herself in Mr. Danchig-Waring’s arms, gazing out at the hall, gripped the audience. Lauren Lovette and Chase Finlay, in Aria II, brought luster and lush angular imagery to the stage. In the ensemble, Devin Alberda and Aaron Sanz drew my eye. Lydia Hong, on solo violin, was greeted with generous accolades, as were the cast and Conductor.

Unity Phelan and Taylor Stanley
in Martins' "The Red Violin"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The Cast of Robbins' "In Memory of..."
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at