The New York Philharmonic's Hear & Now series — discussion and performance of a contemporary work, usually with the composer present — is one of the current bright spots in the organization. Alas, György Ligeti is no longer with us, but on Wednesday night Steven Stucky will quiz the conductor Alan Gilbert and the violinist Christian Tetzlaff on the subject of the late master's Violin Concerto. Thursday night the Met makes a long-delayed return to The Egyptian Helen, a Richard Strauss rarity that played briefly at the house in 1928. Deborah Voigt is the Face That Launched; the spectacular coloratura soprano Diana Damrau is Aithra; Jill Grove essays the opera obscurantist's favorite role, The Omniscient Mussel. Jonathan Biss, author of a formidable new Schumann recording on EMI, plays the same night at the Met Museum. Friday night at Zankel is the Nico Muhly concert, which finds the fierce young composer intermingling his own pieces with Renaissance choral works by Byrd, Weelkes, and Taverner. This is part of John Adams's In Your Ear festival. I've touted Muhly several times on the blog and in print; let Steve Smith do the honors this time. Handling the electronics will be the Icelandic sound magician Valgeir Sigurðsson, who figured in my Björk profile. (That's him in the picture above, standing on top of the Matthew Barney vehicle on the right hand side.) Valgeir released Muhly's superb record Speaks Volumes on his Bedroom Community label and has his own excellent-sounding album coming soon. He's got a show Sunday night at Tonic. That same night Gabriel Kahane, who's performed with none other than Thomas Quasthoff, brings his wry, haunting songs to Rockwood Music Hall. If I get my act together I will look in on the 70th-birthday David Del Tredici concert on Saturday night. I'd also like to see Myung-Whun Chung and the Orchestre Philharmonic de Radio France, the NOW Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, and the poetic young pianist Inon Barnatan, except that they are all on Sunday afternoon.