Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin brings the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for a four-day residency. And on opening night, he’ll be at the piano also, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12. It’s a flamboyant calling card that the young Mozart wrote shortly after arriving in Vienna. Also highlighting the evening is the Saratoga premiere of the Symphony No. 1 by Florence Price. In 1933, Price’s First Symphony was the first symphonic work by a Black woman to be played by a major American orchestra. Steeped in American folk music, spirituals, and church hymns, her celebrated work reflects her experience as a Black woman raised in the post-Civil War South.
As part of the center’s commitment to broadening the diversity of its programming, the orchestra’s lineup will include seven works new to the Saratoga stage, including three others by women in addition to Price: Valerie Coleman, Louise Farrenc, and Philadelphia Orchestra composer-in-residence Gabriela Lena Frank. Frank is American born, with a father of Lithuanian Jewish heritage and a Peruvian mother of Chinese descent. Her music often explores this multicultural heritage, and her new piece, Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, is described as mixing elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions. She has written that it is inspired by the mestizaje, which holds that cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other. Its premiere is Aug. 13.