2018-19 Season Kick-off:
Strauss, Montgomery, Corigliano
& Beethoven

3:00pm Saturday, October 20, 2018

Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra
Blythe Gaissert
, Mezzo-soprano
Chris Whittaker, Conductor


Richard Strauss: Overture and Dance from Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60

Jessie Montgomery: Records from a vanishing City

John Corigliano: The Cloisters (Four songs to texts by William M. Hoffman) featuring Blythe Gaissert, mezzo-soprano
          Fort Tryon Park: September
          Song to the Witch of the Cloisters
          Christmas at the Cloisters
          The Unicorn

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 21
          I. Adagio molto
          II. Larghetto
          III. Scherzo: Allegro
          IV. Allegro molto

Our opening concert celebrates music that explores memory, nostalgia, and change -- new music that speaks to the past and old music that has become timeless. The orchestra will perform young composer Jessie Montgomery’s new work “Records from a vanishing City,” a meditation on sounds of the East Village told through her late friend’s record collection. We’re delighted to feature Washington Heights-based mezzo soprano, Blythe Gaissert in a uniquely local presentation of composer John Corigliano’s early song-cycle, “The Cloisters,” about the New York art museum fashioned after a medieval monastery.  The concert opens with Richard Strauss’s delightful Overture and Dance from his opera Ariadne auf Naxos and closes with Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony – composed as Beethoven discovered he was slowly becoming incurably deaf.

Renew your Friends of the WHCO gift or give today and join for our first of three post-concert receptions with food and drink provided by our local business friends.


This concert is made possible in part with funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. LMCC.net 


UMEZ enhances the economic vitality of all communities in Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance.

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond.

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Concert Location:

Fort Washington Collegiate Church
729 West 181st Street
New York, NY, 10033


Thank you to The Bizzarro Agency for their generous support of our 2018-19 season! 

Photo by Taylor Hooper

About our guest artist

Blythe Gaissert has established herself as a fresh and exciting artist with "a voice that is pure, powerful, and appealing, with a stage presence to match." (Denver Post)

New operatic repertoire includes creating the role of Walker Loats in Mikael Karlsson’s one woman opera The Echo Drift at the Prototype Festival in NYC, reprising the role of Hannah After in Laura Kaminsky’s As One with San Diego Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Colorado and BAM, Sadie in the NY premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star with On Site Opera, Robert Paterson’s CAPTCHA with the American Modern Ensemble at Carnegie's Weill Hall and covering both the title-role and Martha in the new Peter Sellars staging of John Adams’ dramatic oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary with The Los Angeles Philharmonic both in the US and on tour to London, Paris and Lucerne.

Other recent credits include Siegrune Die WalkÜre and the Berio Folk Songs, both with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Ravel’s Trois Poemes de Stefan Mallarme and Copland American Songs with the Sarasota Orchestra, Prince Orlofsky DIE FLEDERMAUS and Maddalena RIGOLETTO with Sarasota Opera and the title-role Rape of Lucretia with the Aldeburgh Festival.

About Records from a vanishing City

Jessie Montgomery

Jessie Montgomery

"Records from a vanishing City is a tone poem based on my own recollection of the music that surrounded me growing up on Manhattan's Lower East Side in the 80s and 90s. Artists, truth seekers and cultures of all kinds defined our vibrant community.  The embracing diversity burst out with an effortless everydayness in block parties, festivals, and shin-digs of every sort.  Partly because my parents were artists but also because I just couldn't help it I soaked up what surrounded me: Latin jazz, alternative rock, Western classical, avant-garde jazz, poetry, Caribbean dance music, to name a few.  A year before completing this work, a very dear family friend passed away and it was decided that I would be the one to inherit a large portion of his eclectic record collection.  James Rose was one of the many suns in the Lower East Side cosmos who often hosted parties and generous gatherings for our extended artist family.  His record collection was a treasure trove of the great jazz recordings of the 50s, 60s and beyond--he was mad for John Coltrane, but also Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and-and-and---as well as traditional folk artists from Africa, Asia and South America. In the process of imagining the music for [today's work], a specific track on a  record of music from Angola caught my ear: a traditional lullaby which is sung in call and response by a women's chorus. This lullaby rang with an uncanny familiarity in me.  An adaptation of this lullaby and the rhythmic chant that follows it appears in each of the three main sections of Records. This piece is dedicated to the memory of James Rose."

- Jessie Montgomery

Image via Wikimedia: Jose Olivares

Image via Wikimedia: Jose Olivares

About The Cloisters

The Cloisters is one of John Corigliano’s earlier works, dating from 1965. After his friend the poet and playwright William M. Hoffman wrote The Unicorn, Corigliano suggested that several more poems, unified by the motif of the Cloisters, a museum of medieval art at the northern end of Manhattan, might provide wonderful material for a song cycle. The resulting group of four poems touches on romantic moods and picturesque images associated in Hoffman’s mind with the Cloisters. The third song, “Christmas at the Cloisters”, is dedicated to gospel singer Marion Williams. 

- Walter Simmons