REVIEWS and PRESS
NEW YORK TIMES
Classical: Leon Botstein’s THE Orchestra Now
April 27, 2018
by William Robin
"Perhaps only a figure with repertoire tastes as idiosyncratically intellectual as the conductor and Bard College president Leon Botstein would found a new ensemble called The Orchestra Now and perform such rarely heard composers as Frank Martin and Anton Rubinstein. Under the direction of Mr. Botstein and his expansive musical palate, the programming of this new orchestra echoes that of the storied American Symphony Orchestra but is populated with a young group of students who attend Bard and play regularly in New York City."
NEW YORK TIMES
Luigi Nono’s Harsh Music Inspires Reflection and Action
February 23, 2018
by Seth Colter Walls
"Comparing Nono’s dramatization of xenophobic politics to the current debate over immigration, Mr. Botstein said, “Here’s this foreign worker being harassed and tortured — and we’re looking right at it,” adding that the performance would arrive just days before the protected status of the undocumented immigrants brought here as children, often referred to as Dreamers, expired on March 5...Mr. Botstein asked, “What are we going to do when in fact people start disappearing from our midst, legally?”"
NEW YORK TIMES
Exhausted by Harmony, Schoenberg Found Atonality
December 4, 2017
by Antony Tommasini
"Calling “Erwartung” the “first Freudian opera,” Mr. Botstein played excerpts to illustrate the work’s restless, sometimes rootless harmonic language, the skittish interplay of contrapuntal lines, the composer’s use of recurring motifs and the tormented emotional cast of the music. He drew rich, expressive playing from the orchestra, and Ms. Chambers’s bright lyric soprano lent fragile innocence to her portrayal of the desperate Woman."
October 26, 2017
"In an exclusive interview, Leon Botstein told Blasting News what drove him to found TŌN, what sets the ensemble apart from other orchestras and what he hopes audiences will take away from the Nov. 3 concert..."
October 13, 2017
"During these tumultuous times, it is a comfort to know that the arts are responding with bold examinations of current events. In fact, the classical music scene in New York has some important voices that are presenting programming relevant to our zeitgeist. The American Symphony Orchestra and its probing conductor Leon Botstein presented such a program at Carnegie Hall ...."
Grafenegg launches ITS ACADEMY and campus in spring 2018 with LEON BOTSTEIN as ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Ocotober 3, 2017
"Leon Botstein, conductor, scholar, President of Bard College, and Music Director of American Symphony Orchestra and The Orchestra Now, will begin his first season as Artistic Director of Grafenegg Campus and Grafenegg Academy in 2018. The appointment honors him as one of only a few Americans to head a major European classical institution."
THE new york times
Review: Flawed but Fascinating Dvorak Opera in a Rare Staging
July 31, 2017
by Anthony Tommasini
"Mr. Botstein drew vibrant playing and a well-paced performance from the American Symphony Orchestra . . . the festival and this hard-working cast deserve thanks for championing this fascinating, if flawed, opera."
July 20, 2017
by David Patrick Stearns
"The festival’s co-artistic director, Leon Botstein, who conducts the production and is the rescuer of many forgotten operas, particularly lauds "the fantastic choral writing" and the piece's overall ability to lodge itself in one's memory."
THE new york times
Review: Elgar’s ‘The Apostles’ Is Rescued From Being Overlooked
May 14, 2017
by Anthony Tommasini
"Mr. Botstein drew warm, glowing playing from the orchestra and rich, unforced singing from the impressive Bard chorus, trusting in the music’s majestic serenity. Sometimes I wanted more definition and intensity. Still, the performance served this remarkable oratorio. Here was the latest rescue job by a tireless champion of the overlooked."
NEW YORK CLASSICAL REVIEW
Botstein, ASO reveal the mystical Elgar in “The Apostles”
May 13, 2017
by David Wright
"As energetically performed Friday night in Carnegie Hall by the American Symphony Orchestra, Bard Festival Chorus and six soloists led by Leon Botstein, The Apostles inhabited a sphere far removed from Handel or Mendelssohn, where Catholic mysticism intersected with the “bruised reed” of humanity, personified in the morally compromised characters of Judas, Mary Magdalene, and Peter...
The orchestra, led with minimal gestures by Botstein, went from mystical shimmer to cinematic glitz with aplomb..."
LEON BOTSTEIN ADDS GRAFENEGG FESTIVAL
July 13, 2016
by Susan Elliott
"Austria’s Grafenegg Festival, now approaching its tenth year as a destination summer event, with preliminary events beginning July 16, has appointed Leon Botstein as artistic director of the Grafenegg Campus and Academy, effective in 2018...
...In a brief phone interview, he described his primary function there as creating innovative, thematic programs and events for rising artists, including members of TŌN, as well as European Union Youth Orchestra members and graduates, and integrating those programs with the larger festival. He also plans to explore the intersection of music with other disciplines and with the culture at large. His first summer will focus on the immediate post-war years and the new nationalism, including the emergence of Russian as well as American composers during that time frame.
As both cause and effect of his efforts, Grafenegg will expand in size and duration."
June 9, 2016
by Erica Jeal
"Pianist Mark Bebbington brings a nice balance of swagger and thoughtfulness to this all-Gershwin programme..."
Review: REcording of the MONTH
by Ian Lace
"This is rather a new look at some very familiar Gershwin. Bebbington — well known for his probing readings — claims that he and Botstein “… discovered unexpected shades among the famous melodies …” The result: a freshness and a sense of joyous spontaneity that is distinctly appealing. Rather than a polite stuffy Park Avenue sensibility, this interpretation seems to tap the very essence of the thrusting, thriving metropolis that is the real New York."
March 14, 2016
by Keira Alexander
""The best way to bring new listeners in is to show them that the orchestra is made of people just like them, who can communicate their own love and enthusiasm for music," Leon Botstein, famed conductor and president of Bard College, told amNewYork. "They are going out into the community and designing their own programs to introduce and involve people of their own generation and the next.""
March 2, 2016
"...at Bard College in upstate New York, the SAT carries little weight. “I think both of these tests are ludicrous. They don’t do anybody any good; not the taker, not the college. America is obsessed with these tests. The college rankings are partially to blame for this," said Bard College President Dr. Leon Botstein."
BARD COLLEGE LAUNCHES NEW TRAINING ORCHESTRA, 'TŌN'
September 10, 2015
by Susan Elliott
"TŌN is a three-year, tuition-free, masters-degree program to be directed by Bard College President Leon Botstein, TŌN's members are "forward-thinking artists who intend to redefine what it means to be an orchestra." They will be learning how to "curate repertoire that engages concertgoers, sparks new ideas, and attracts new audiences," he says."
THE BUFFALO NEWS
For a healthy arts scene, participation is key
May 9, 2015
by Colin Dabkowski
"In a stirring talk Friday night in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery auditorium titled “Arts, Justice and Innovation,” the bow-tied conductor with the basso profundo gave a passionate defense of culture’s crucial role in a democratic society. Albright-Knox director Janne Sirén introduced Botstein accurately as “the icon of everything a humanist should be.”
Perhaps the most surprising part of his talk was what little faith Botstein placed in the future of public funding for arts and culture. While he said that he’s not opposed to increased public subsidies for arts activities in American cities, the future for the arts lies in participation on a huge scale and across demographic and socioeconomic lines."
the new york times
Orchestra and College Enter Each Other’s Turf
October 29, 2014
by Michael Cooper
“Mr. Botstein of Bard, who is also the music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, said that he hoped that the new training orchestra, which he said was inspired in part by Michael Tilson Thomas’s New World Symphony, would also perhaps give the musicians the tools to change the landscape with new community engagement projects and smart programs.
One idea he is considering: performing a complete cycle of Haydn symphonies over several years, with each concert including works from multiple periods. He said that he wants the orchestra to work with conductors such as James Conlon, JoAnn Falletta and Adam Fischer. The training orchestra, Mr. Botstein said, is “a completely, I think, fresh approach to equipping the musician of the future with a set of skills, and knowledge, and perspective of how to really generate a vital performing life.””