The National Symphony Orchestra will launch its own record label on February 21, the orchestra announced Tuesday. The first recording of the orchestra under the direction of conductor Gianandrea Noseda will feature Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 and Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid.
Producing recordings in-house is another step up for the NSO as it works to take a place among other major orchestras. One of Noseda’s goals has been to bring the symphony’s work to a wider, more diverse audience.
Noseda’s introduction as NSO music director had a huge influence on the group’s decision to start its own label. An internationally recognized artist who has conducted groups like the Berlin Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Noseda has brought an “electricity and energy” to the group’s performances for the past two seasons, NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling says.
“We want to be able to document the legacy of [Noseda’s] artistic relationship with the orchestra,” Ginstling says. “We are thrilled with the performances happening in our halls, and we want to document that legacy so that future generations can hear the work that Gianandrea is doing with our musicians. We believe the orchestra is at the top of its form and comparable to any great orchestra in the world, so of course we want to share these performances with as many people as possible.”
In a collaboration influenced by Noseda’s role as principal guest conductor for the London Symphony Orchestra, the British symphony’s record label—LSO Live—will distribute the NSO’s new label. Since becoming one of the first major orchestras to start its own recording label in 1999, LSO Live has grown to distribute the work of groups like the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, to an international audience. The NSO will be the first American group distributed by the label.
The NSO’s first release features a fitting program for “America’s orchestra.” Recorded live at the Kennedy Center at the conclusion of last year’s season in June, the repertoire, Ginstling says, was chosen for Noseda’s dynamic and original interpretation and the American underpinnings.
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, better known as the “New World” symphony, was composed while Dvořák was director of the National Conservatory of Music of America and incorporates themes found in Native American music and African-American spirituals. Copland was one of the most influential American composers of the 21st century, and his Billy the Kid suite evokes the old West.
This recording is to be the first of many, Ginstling says. The group’s next release will feature recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies, which will be performed live late next spring in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.