Great Performances “Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert”

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Violinist Gil Shaham, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, and Tony winner Audra McDonald top the bill

On May 5, 2011, Carnegie Hall will commemorate its 120th anniversary with an all-star gala concert featuring conductor Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic and special guests pianist Emanuel Ax , cellist Yo-Yo Ma , violinist Gil Shaham , and the four-time Tony Award-winning singer and actress Audra McDonald .

Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert — featuring the works of Ludwig von Beethoven, Duke Ellington, Antonin Dvořák, and George Gershwin — will air as part of Great Performances on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 9 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.

The eclectic, crowd-pleasing program is set to include Beethoven's Triple Concerto in C major, Op. 56 , performed by Ax, Ma, and Shaham, a selection of Duke Ellington songs – including “Solitude,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “On a Turquoise Cloud,” and “It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing” — performed by McDonald, and full performances of Antonin Dvořák's Carnival Overture and George Gershwin's An American in Paris .

Dvořák conducted his Carnival Overture with the Boston Symphony at Carnegie Hall when he came to New York to assume his post as director of the National Conservatory of Music on October 21, 1892 .

Gershwin's An American in Paris was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic , and conducted by Walter Damrosch in the New York premiere on December 13, 1928 at Carnegie Hall . ( The concert hall was the home base of the New York Philharmonic until the orchestra moved to its current location at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in 1962.)

Ellington played his first historic Carnegie Hall concert on January 23, 1943, beginning an extraordinary series of concerts there of his long-form works.

In the late 1800's, New York City was emerging as an international capital, and composers were flourishing in the classical world. In 1891, Carnegie Hall, founded by industrialist and entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie, opened its doors as simply “Music Hall” on May 5, 1891 with none other than Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducting. It was renamed “Carnegie Hall” in 1893 when Carnegie allowed the use of his name and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.

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