A few days ago my good friend Sebastian Vera, who is an outstanding trombonist and member of the Guidonian Hand, emailed me recounting his experiences at the NYPhil's recent all-Varèse concert. In particular, he was struck by conductor Alan Gilbert's program note, and felt it played a big role in the concert's success. Here's a quote from the email.
I love it because he does such a wonderful and succinct job of describing to this audience, who a good number of them most likely had never heard Varèse, let alone enjoyed him, how to appreciate this music. I feel like in these short paragraphs he really disarmed the reader quite well to have an open mind without offending them or speaking from the ivory tower or even overloading them with too much information. The best part of the whole night for me was the fact that after the final piece Ameriques was played(which they played incredibly), it was honestly one of the most enthusiastic audience responses I have ever seen at the Phil.