Julia Wolfe: Fire in my mouth New York Philharmonic & Jaap van Zweden

Album info



Label: Decca Gold

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Vocal

Album including Album cover

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  • Julia Wolfe (b. 1958): Fire in my mouth:
  • 1Fire in my mouth: I. Immigration11:24
  • 2Fire in my mouth: II. Factory08:40
  • 3Fire in my mouth: III. Protest12:41
  • 4Fire in my mouth: IV. Fire15:34
  • Total Runtime48:19

Info for Julia Wolfe: Fire in my mouth

The New York Philharmonic and Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s World Premiere performances of Julia Wolfe’s, Fire in my mouth will be released on Universal Music Group’s newly established US classical music label.

The New York Philharmonic premiered Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth, which the Orchestra also co-commissioned, in January 2019, conducted by Jaap van Zweden and featuring The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally, and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, directed by Francisco J. Núñez. The New York Times called the work “ambitious, heartfelt, often compelling. … There is both heady optimism and a sense of dread in Ms. Wolfe’s music. … Mr. van Zweden led a commanding account of a score that … ends with an elegiac final chorus in which the names of all 146 victims are tenderly sung to create a fabric of music and memory.” The performance earned the coveted spot in the highbrow / brilliant quadrant of New York magazine’s Approval Matrix.

Fire in my mouth was premiered as part of New York Stories: Threads of Our City, the Philharmonic’s two-week examination of New York City’s roots as a city of immigrants. The work is a reflection on the New York garment industry at the turn of the 20th century through a focus on the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 garment workers, most of them young immigrants. The title refers not only to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, but also to Ukrainian immigrant and labor activist Clara Lemlich Shavelson, who, when looking back on her radical youth, said, “Ah, then I had fire in my mouth.” The music evokes the roar of hundreds of sewing machines and the language of protest to recreate the world of women working in New York garment factories in the early 20th century, the majority of whom were Jewish and Italian immigrants.

Fire in my mouth was co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley; the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign; and the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In writing the piece, Julia Wolfe used her signature intensive research methods, drawing on oral histories, speeches, interviews, and historical writings. She workshopped Fire in my mouth with the Philharmonic’s three university commissioning partners; campus-wide discussions about history, music, and creative writing informed the work. Fire in my mouth is Julia Wolfe’s third work in a series of pieces on the American worker; the others are Steel Hammer, her reimagining of the John Henry legend, and Anthracite Fields, her Pulitzer Prize–winning oratorio about Pennsylvania coal miners, which the New York Philharmonic presented in its New York Premiere in 2014 and the recording of which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Julia Wolfe was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2016, and Musical America named her 2019 Composer of the Year.

The New York Philharmonic launched its partnership with Decca Gold in February 2018 with the release of Jaap van Zweden and the Philharmonic’s performances of Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7. Subsequent releases include Sing Happy (May 2018), featuring Audra McDonald’s 2018 Spring Gala performance with the Philharmonic; live performances of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps and Debussy’s La Mer (February 2019) from Maestro van Zweden’s opening weeks as Music Director; and Soloists of the New York Philharmonic (May 2019), featuring concertos performed by Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, Principal Flute Robert Langevin, Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill, and Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi.

New York Philharmonic
Jaap van Zweden, conductor

New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic plays a leading cultural role in New York City, the United States, and the world. Each season the Orchestra connects with up to 50 million music lovers through live concerts in New York and around the world, international broadcasts, recordings, education programs, and the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives. The 2018–19 season marked Jaap van Zweden’s first as Music Director. The Philharmonic has commissioned and / or premiered works by leading composers from every era since its founding in 1842, including Dvořák’s New World Symphony, John Adams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning On the Transmigration of Souls, and Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle (Symphony No. 4). This commitment continued in 2018–19, when Jaap van Zweden led the Philharmonic in the World Premieres of commissions by Ashley Fure, Conrad Tao, Louis Andriessen, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang. A resource for its community and the world, the Philharmonic complements its annual free citywide Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, with Philharmonic Free Fridays, its famed Young People’s Concerts, and the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Partnership. The oldest American symphony orchestra and one of the oldest in the world, the New York Philharmonic has made more than 2,000 recordings since 1917 and produced its first-ever Facebook Live concert broadcast in 2016.

Jaap van Zweden
With the arrival last season of Jaap van Zweden as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, a new era began. Having concluded a highly acclaimed and revelatory inaugural season, Jaap van Zweden and the musicians of the New York Philharmonic unite for a new 2019-20 season of more surprises and adventurous experiences. As an international presence on three continents over the past decade, he also continues as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012. Guest engagements this season include the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Van Zweden has appeared as guest conductor with many other leading orchestras around the globe, among them the Orchestre de Paris, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

In this his second season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Jaap van Zweden fuses past and present, representing today’s composers and the new-music landscape while reflecting on relevant historic achievements. He conducts repertoire ranging from seven World Premieres (including opening week with a Philip Glass commission and the season-concluding hotspots festival with works by Nico Muhly and Sarah Kirkland Snider, as well as three other works by women composers for Project 19) to symphonic cornerstones (including Mahler both in New York and on a European tour in 2020, when the Philharmonic becomes the first-ever American orchestra to appear at the Mahler Festival in Amsterdam). Other season highlights include a fully staged production of Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung. He conducts his first Young People’s Concert and once again invites his fellow New Yorkers to Phil the Hall. Added to his repertoire of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Schoenberg will be Björk, Steve Reich and John Adams.

Jaap van Zweden has made numerous acclaimed recordings, the most recent of which are live New York Philharmonic performances of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps and Debussy’s La Mer, continuing the Philharmonic’s partnership with Universal Music Group’s Decca Gold label. In 2018 with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, he completed a four-year project conducting the first-ever performances in Hong Kong of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, which have been recorded and released on Naxos Records as individual recordings as well as a complete set. His highly praised performances of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger and Parsifal, the latter of which earned Maestro van Zweden the prestigious Edison Award for Best Opera Recording in 2012, are available on CD/DVD.

Born in Amsterdam, Jaap van Zweden was appointed at age nineteen as the youngest-ever concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He began his conducting career nearly twenty years later in 1996. He remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic where he served as Chief Conductor from 2005-2013, served as Chief Conductor of the Royal Flanders Orchestra from 2008-11, and was Music Director from 2008-2018 of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra where he currently holds the title Conductor Laureate. Van Zweden was named Musical America's 2012 Conductor of the Year and was the subject of an October 2018 CBS 60 Minutes profile.

In 1997, Jaap van Zweden and his wife Aaltje established the Papageno Foundation, the objective being to support families of children with autism. Now, over 20 years later, the Foundation has grown into a multi-faceted organization which, through various initiatives and activities, focuses on the development of children and young adults with autism. The Foundation provides in-home music therapy to children through a national network of qualified music therapists in the Netherlands; opened the Papageno House in August 2015 (with Her Majesty Queen Maxima in attendance) for young adults with autism to live, work and participate in the community; created a research center at the Papageno House for early diagnosis and treatment of autism and for analyzing the effects of music therapy on autism; develops funding opportunities to support autism programs; and launched the app, TEAMPapageno, which allows children with autism to communicate with each other through music composition.

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