Berlin Philharmonic premieres ‘Pretty’

September 20, 2023

Berlin Philharmonic
world premiere
Kirill Petrenko, conductor
June 8, 9, 10

Berlin Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall

June 8-10, conductor Kirill Petrenko and the Berlin Philharmonic gave the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Pretty. Co-commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Pretty was the third premiere of Wolfe’s in as many weeks — beginning May 25 in San Francisco with the west coast premiere of Her Story, and then June 1-3 with the New York Philharmonic’s world premiere of unEarth. In July, the Boston Symphony gave a reprise performance of Wolfe’s Her Story at Tanglewood on July 28.

Julia Wolfe explains Pretty:

The word “pretty” has had a complicated relationship to women. It implies an attractiveness without any rough edges, without strength or power. And it has served as a measure of worth in strange, limited, and destructive ways. It has a less sweet origin from the old English – “cunning, crafty, clever.” As words evolve, it morphed to a much softer sentiment. My Pretty is a raucous celebration – embracing the grit of fiddling, the relentlessness of work rhythms, and inspired by the distortion and reverberation of rock and roll.

Watch Julia Wolfe chat with the Berlin Philharmonic about her process, her influences, and her music.