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Experiential Orchestra Announces 2023 Concerts with James Blachly, Music Director

Experiential Orchestra (EXO) announces its upcoming concerts in 2023, including the orchestra’s next performance on Friday, January 27, 2023 at 8pm

Friday, January 27, 2023 at 8pm Strauss’s Four Last Songs Reimagined with NOVUS NY Conducted by James Blachly | Sarah Brailey, soprano | Andrew Yee, cello Co-Presented with Trinity Church Wall Street St. Paul’s Chapel | 209 Broadway, New York, NY Tickets:

February 23, April 27, October 5, 2023 EXO Chamber Music Residency at Carnegie Hill Concerts Church of the Advent Hope | 111 E 87th St., New York, NY Tickets:

Sunday, March 19, 2023 at 4pm Stravinsky at The Phillips Collection 1600 21st St. NW, Washington, DC Tickets:

New York, NY – Experiential Orchestra (EXO) announces its upcoming concerts in 2023, including the orchestra’s next performance on Friday, January 27, 2023 at 8pm, Strauss’s Four Last Songs Reimagined with NOVUS NY, conducted by EXO Music Director James Blachly and co-presented by EXO and Trinity Church Wall Street at St. Paul’s Chapel (209 Broadway). The concert features Strauss’s beloved Four Last Songs performed twice in one evening – first by soprano Sarah Brailey in a traditional performance, then by cellist Andrew Yee in a reimagined setting, with audience members embedded in the orchestra and lighting design by Takaaki Ando Aki. The evening is completed by a performance with the two soloists of Caroline Shaw’s By and By.

This concert is something of a homecoming, with Sarah Brailey, conductor James Blachly, and composer Caroline Shaw all former members of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and Andrew Yee a current principal cellist NOVUS NY.

Music Director James Blachly says, “these songs are so rapturously beautiful, and we want to invite the audience to live in this musical sound-world in two exquisite ways. Bringing them to life with two of my very favorite artists will be a dream come true.”

Soprano Sarah Brailey, who won her first Grammy® as a part of EXO’s ground-breaking performance of Ethel Smyth’s The Prison, says, “as a cellist turned soprano, I can confidently say that the cello is the instrument most like the human voice. Strauss’s Four Last Songs are some of the most profound songs ever written and I jump at any opportunity to perform them. I am so looking forward to hearing them in the hands of Andrew Yee, and to have a chance to sing the music of our dear friend, Caroline Shaw.”

Cellist Andrew Yee says, “Once on a drive to upstate New York I had put the Four Last Songs on the speakers and was blasting them as I was driving north. A police officer pulled me over and asked if I knew how fast I was going. When I said no, he informed me I was going 110 mph. The long legato lines and the harmonies are so other worldly, I am always completely transfixed when immersed in the sound. I cannot wait to hear Sarah Brailey sing them with the Experiential Orchestra, and to be part of the immersive experience at the end of the show. We have decided to pair the Strauss with my good friend Caroline Shaw’s four songs about death in their own way. Her cycle By and By is reimagined versions of old songs from the South in a new version for soprano and solo cello.”

Trinity Church Wall Street Director of Artistic Planning Mel Baker says, “Trinity is excited to welcome home artists from our extended family in a concert that will surround and envelop our audience in the sounds of this stunning music. Andrew, Sarah, Caroline and James are trailblazing musicians and with the stellar Experiential Orchestra and NOVUS NY, this performance is not to be missed!”

Up next in February, EXO begins a three-concert chamber music residency with Carnegie Hill Concerts (CHC), featuring performances on February 23, April 27, and October 5 at Church of the Advent Hope (111 E 87th St.). Under the direction of EXO Strategic Partner Pauline Kim Harris (who also co-curates CHC with Nicholas Zork), five superb EXO musicians – Alex Fortes, Lady Jess, Sami Merdinian, Michelle Ross and Henry Wang – have joined together to form EXO’s Creative Team, which has programmed this residency. The residency will focus on the themes of discovery and storytelling, with the first concert, titled CODE, on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 7:30pm featuring Jessie Montgomery’s string quartet Source Code, plus music by composer-performers and EXO collaborators Jessica Meyer and Michelle Ross. On Thursday, April 27 at 7:30pm, PLAY builds audience decisions into a choose-your-own adventure evening of game pieces – Iannis Xenakis’s Linaia-Agon and Julius Eastman’s Stay on It. The grand finale on Thursday, October 5 at 7:30pm, ACT, will be an immersive night of music and drama, with audience members invited to be a part of the cast in a musical journey guided by a renowned actor in Schoenberg’s iconic work, Verklärte Nacht.

On Sunday, March 19, at 4pm EXO will be presented by The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC (1600 21st St. NW), performing two works that draw on Baroque and jazz influences: Igor Stravinsky’s Chamber Concerto in E-flat, Dumbarton Oaks, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s Sinfonietta No. 1 for Strings. Commissioned in 1937 by the original owners of the Georgetown estate, Robert and Mildred Woods Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks exhibits Stravinsky’s Neoclassical style and his ability to generate musical material through the reinvention of old forms, notably the style of the Baroque and its manifestation in the music of J.S. Bach. The Perkinson work for strings was written when the composer, who was a prominent jazz pianist as well as conductor, was 22 years old. James Blachly describes it as a “tour de force, both compositionally and for the orchestra.” Exploring these connections in greater depth, EXO pairs the Stravinsky and Perkinson with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, a well-loved work that exhibits the contrapuntal richness and joyous sonority of Bach’s concerto writing.

About the Soloists in Strauss’s Four Last Songs Reimagined:

GRAMMY® Award winning cellist Andrew Yee has been praised by The Telegraph as “spellbindingly virtuosic”. Trained at the Juilliard School, they are a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet who have released several albums to critical acclaim. They were the quartet-in-residence at the Met Museum in 2014, and have won the Osaka and Coleman international string quartet competitions. Their newest recording of the string quartets of Caroline Shaw won a GRAMMY for best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble performance. In 2019, Yee won first prize at Oklahoma University’s National Arts Incubation Lab for their pitch of a wearable garment that translates sound into vibrations for the hard of hearing. Their solo project, “Halfie,” draws on their experience as a bi-racial and non-binary person in having access to multiple communities at once, while not feeling at home in any of them. Yee plays on an 1884 Eugenio Degani cello on loan from the Five Partners Foundation.

Soprano Sarah Brailey has been hailed by The New York Times for her “exquisitely phrased” singing and by Opera UK for “a sound of remarkable purity.” Recent highlights include Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with the Mark Morris Dance Group, John Zorn’s Song of Songs with Barbara Hannigan at the Elbphilharmonie, and The Soul in the world premiere recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison, for which she received the 2020 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. Brailey is the Artistic Director of the Handel Aria Competition and the Director of Vocal Studies at the University of Chicago.

About James Blachly:

James Blachly is a Grammy®-winning conductor dedicated to enriching the concert experience by connecting with audiences in memorable and meaningful ways. James Blachly serves as Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and of the Experiential Orchestra, and is a versatile guest conductor in diverse repertoire with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

With the Experiential Orchestra, he has conducted the works of Arvo Pärt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, invited audiences to dance to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, sit within the orchestra at Lincoln Center, and engage with Symphonie fantastique and Petrushka with circus choreography at The Muse in Brooklyn. Their world premiere recording of English composer Dame Ethel Smyth’s 1930 masterpiece The Prison, released on Chandos Records, won a 2021 Grammy Award and was widely acclaimed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Gramophone, San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times, The Guardian, and many others.

In 2022, he held a week-long artist residency at Montclair State University featuring composer in residence Jessie Montgomery, where he taught courses on composition, conducting, choral techniques, and delivered several keynote lectures, culminating in an Experiential Orchestra-style immersive performance. At the invitation of founder Charles Dickerson, he assisted in curating a concert celebrating works for orchestra by African Diaspora composers, and was one of six conductors to lead the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles at the League of American Orchestras conference.

A strong supporter of composers of our time, Blachly has commissioned and premiered more than 40 works by composers including Jessie Montgomery, Courtney Bryan, Viet Cuong, Michi Wiancko, Kate Copeland Ettinger, Tommy Daugherty, Patrick Castillo, Brad and Doug Balliett, and many others. In recent seasons, he has collaborated with soloists Paul Jacobs, Michelle Cann, Charles Yang, Julia Bullock, Simone Porter, Dashon Burton, Laquita Mitchell, Helga Davis, Sarah Brailey, Andrés Cárdenes, Michael Chioldi, Karen Kim, Andrew Yee, and more.

In 2020, Blachly was invited to serve as the Associate Editor and Orchestral Liaison for the African Diaspora Music Project, directed by Dr. Louise Toppin. In that capacity, he has overseen the compilation of a database and website detailing more than 1,300 published works for orchestra by African diaspora composers.

About Experiential Orchestra:

The Experiential Orchestra was founded by conductor James Blachly as a way to invite audiences more deeply into the sound and powerful experience of the symphony orchestra. Their Grammy-winning world-premiere recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison (1930) was critically acclaimed in The New York Times, Gramophone, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and many other publications.

The orchestra is drawn from top-level New York freelancers, with members of Decoda, Musicians from Marlboro, Canadian Brass and other elite ensembles in principal positions.

As quoted in Symphony Magazine, Blachly says, “We try and keep it fresh for everybody. We are not trying to displace the standard concert experience, but invite people in so that when they next attend a traditional concert they hear things differently.”

Recent concerts have been presented at Roulette and National Sawdust in Brooklyn, Lincoln Center with Young Patrons of Lincoln Center, Americas Society, and in partnership with Musicambia and Groupmuse at the Masonic Temple; concerts have also been presented at Penn State University, American University, and the Phillips Collection in Washington DC.

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