WQXR and the New York Philharmonic Present “The NY Phil Story: Made in New York”
The story of a city, its people, and their orchestra
Five-part podcast series chronicles the history of the New York Philharmonic and its connection to New York City through stories of seminal concerts
Hosted by Jamie Bernstein
Debuts Wednesday, April 5th
Listen to the audio trailer here
(New York, NY – March 29, 2023) — WQXR and the New York Philharmonic today announced the launch of The NY Phil Story: Made in New York, a five-part podcast series tracing the history of the New York Philharmonic and the city it calls home.
Host Jamie Bernstein – author, filmmaker, and daughter of iconic NY Phil music director Leonard Bernstein – takes listeners behind the scenes into some of the orchestra’s most pivotal moments, from the strains of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony during its inaugural concert in 1842, to the emotional 1865 performance that helped the city mourn the loss of Abraham Lincoln, and finally, to its present day reckoning with the displacement of the San Juan Hill neighborhood, where Lincoln Center opened in the 1960s and the NY Phil now resides.
In each episode, Jamie Bernstein examines notable works while sharing the stories of current players, titanic historical figures, and musicians whose names have since been lost to all but a few. Listeners will hear recordings from the NY Phil’s rich audio archives, including their broadcast in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, recordings of urban planner and city official Robert Moses discussing San Juan Hill’s destruction, Leonard Bernstein’s live radio debut, and other treasures from the archives.
The series features interviews with historians, scholars, and New York Philharmonic musicians, including:
- Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic Joseph Alessi
- Deborah Borda, President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic
- Principal Cello of the New York Philharmonic Carter Brey
- Erica Buurman, director of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San José State University
- Etienne Charles, performer, composer, and storyteller
- Abraham Lincoln historian Harold Holzer
- New York Philharmonic concertmaster Frank Huang
- Alex Kaminsky, band director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of the Parkland shooting
- Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic Anthony McGill
- Virginia Sánchez Korrol, historian and professor emerita in the Department of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY
- Doug Shadle, Dvořák scholar and chair of musicology and ethnomusicology at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music
- Beethoven scholar, author, and composer Jan Swafford
- Shanta Thake, chief artistic officer for Lincoln Center
- Jaap van Zweden, music director of the New York Philharmonic and the Hong Kong Philharmonic
- Bowery Boys podcast host Greg Young
- Associate Principal Viola of the New York Philharmonic Rebecca Young
“The NY Phil Story: Made in New York tells the story of our nation’s oldest orchestra and its iconic place in the history of our city, our country, and the world of music,” said Ed Yim, Chief Content Officer, WQXR. “But more than that, this is a portrait of the role cultural institutions can play during times of grief, change, and challenge, and their ability to forge community – a role WQXR has also proudly played as New York City’s longest-running classical music station. We are delighted to partner with the New York Philharmonic to bring these stories of New York to a global audience and to have Jamie Bernstein – a witness to this history – at the helm.”
“I’m thrilled to be hosting this podcast,” said Jamie Bernstein. “My siblings and I were kids while our dad was the NY Phil’s conductor, so the orchestra has always felt like extended family to us. It feels so right to be telling their story to the world, especially since the Phil’s commitment to embracing and serving the community resonates so perfectly with my father’s own lifelong efforts to make the world a better place through the sharing of music.”
“At the dawn of this new era for the New York Philharmonic, it is revealing to look back at our storied history,” said Gary Ginstling, Executive Director, New York Philharmonic. “The NY Phil Story: Made in New York does just that, with a focus on the presence NY Phil has had throughout the life of New York City and the nation. Thanks to the talents of WQXR, our partner on this podcast, and the people they’ve interviewed, I have already discovered Philharmonic stories I’d not heard before. I’m excited for listeners to learn more about how the NY Phil and our concerts have reflected pivotal moments over the past 180 years, and how we continue to speak to Americans from all walks of life.”
Episode descriptions are as follows:
On December 7, 1842, a group of musicians gathered in the Apollo Rooms in Lower Manhattan and performed – for the first time – as the Philharmonic Society of New York. The first piece they played was Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Jamie Bernstein explores the journeys those early musicians took to get to that stage – several of whom had just immigrated to the US – and the path that current-day NY Phil concertmaster Frank Huang traveled to get from Beijing to Lincoln Center.
A Time to Mourn
Fifteen days after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Philharmonic paid tribute to him with the Funeral March from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. This moving work helped a city mourn the loss of a national leader. Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill and former band director of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Alex Kaminsky discuss how music continues to console in the face of violence and loss.
From the New World
In 1893, New Yorkers gathered outside Carnegie Hall to hear the ground-breaking premiere of composer Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, better known as the New World Symphony. One of the most hotly anticipated premieres in musical history, it was delivered in the midst of a national debate over what a distinctly “American” classical music should sound like. Over a century later, the NY Phil performed the same work a world away in Pyongyang, North Korea, revisiting those same questions of what it means to perform American music — and how music, regardless of its origin, can serve as a bridge between peoples.
To the People of New York
This episode explores Leonard Bernstein’s early career as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, where he advanced the orchestra’s legacy of providing first-rate music to New Yorkers, and eventually the nation, through the televised broadcasts of his Young People’s Concerts. We’ll land in the present day, when Bernstein’s radical democratizing of classical music continues with summer concerts in parks around the city.
After almost three years of pop-up outdoor performances and playing in venues around the city, in October of 2022 the NY Phil came home to a newly renovated David Geffen Hall. Part of Lincoln Center, it originally opened in 1962 to acclaim and controversy on the former site of the San Juan Hill Neighborhood. During this first season back, the NY Phil and Lincoln Center paid tribute to a lost community with a new commission by Etienne Charles.
More information on The NY Phil Story: Made in New York is available at nyphilstory.com.
Leadership support for WQXR is provided by The Jerome L. Greene Foundation, The Carson Family Charitable Trust, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, and The Thompson Family Foundation.
WQXR is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life on-air at 105.9FM, online at WQXR.org, and in person through live events and performances. WQXR presents new and landmark classical recordings, as well as live concerts from New York City’s concert halls and performance venues, and broadcasts essential destination programs including Carnegie Hall Live, Metropolitan Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, New York Philharmonic This Week, New York in Concert, This Week with Yannick, and the Young Artists Showcase. WQXR also produces podcasts that reach new audiences for the artform: The Open Ears Project, Helga, and the critically acclaimed opera podcast Aria Code. As a public radio station, WQXR is supported through the generosity of its members, donors and sponsors, making classical music relevant, accessible and inspiring for all.
ABOUT THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
The New York Philharmonic connects with millions of music lovers each season through live concerts in New York and around the world, as well as broadcasts, recordings, and education programs. The 2022–23 season marks a new chapter in the life of America’s longest living orchestra with the opening of the reimagined David Geffen Hall and programming that engages with today’s cultural conversations through explorations of Home, Liberation, Spirit, and Earth, in addition to the premieres of 16 works.
The Philharmonic has commissioned and or premiered important works, from Dvořák’s New World Symphony through Tania León’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Stride and Etienne Charles’s San Juan Hill: A New York Story. A media pioneer, the Orchestra has released more than 2,000 recordings since 1917, began radio broadcasts in 1922 (currently through The New York Philharmonic This Week), and shares its extensive history free online through the New York Philharmonic Shelby White & Leon Levy Digital Archives.
Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world. Jaap van Zweden became Music Director in 2018–19, succeeding titans including Bernstein, Toscanini, and Mahler.