The Mann has long been the orchestra's main local summer venue - it was built specifically for the orchestra - and what this year's dip in appearances means for the future is unclear.
Cahill says the Mann prefers that the orchestra continue as primary resident at the Fairmount Park amphitheater. She and the association are discussing future scheduling and programming. "We deeply value our history and the artistry of this great orchestra and continue to anticipate their annual return visits to the Mann, performing on Philadelphia's other premier stage," she said.
Of the future for the orchestra and the Mann, orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore said, "We haven't had those discussions together."
She said that this year's limited number of concerts was "unique" because of the European tour, and two concerts in July at the Festival de Lanaudière in Montreal.
Philadelphia Orchestra concerts at the Mann have often carried artistic heft; for many years Charles Dutoit served as artistic chief, assembling core repertoire with such big-name soloists as Itzhak Perlman and Andre Watts.
The question of whether the Mann will again have a conductor as artistic head is unresolved. Cahill said, "We certainly would embrace a close relationship with their music director," Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who takes the post in the fall of 2012.
The orchestra has talked in broad terms about Nézet-Séguin having a summer presence, but nothing specific beyond neighborhood concerts and appearances at the Academy of Music in June 2012.
Will he be appearing at the Mann? "I'm sure he will be," said Vulgamore. "It's a matter of matching calendars."
The Mann may be continuing its nine orchestral concerts this summer, but programming is gravitating - both here and at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center - toward lighter repertoire, and the use of orchestra as background music to visual spectacle or as a secondary factor to other artistic ideas.
The Philadelphia Orchestra will play "Down the Abbey Road," a symphonic "celebration" of the Beatles masterwork (June 30). Fireworks will follow the traditional Tchaikovsky event (June 29), led by Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko. Giancarlo Guerrero conducts Carmina Burana (June 28) with soloists soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, baritone Stephen Powell, and countertenor Brian Asawa.
All these concerts assume an uninterrupted schedule as the orchestra's bankruptcy and related labor negotiations continue. Cahill said all ticket revenue will be placed in escrow, to be returned should any concerts be canceled.
The move to lighter repertoire is intentional, she said.
"The diversification of our programming is a strategic decision to not only attract new and younger audiences, but also to balance that with the needs of our traditional classical audiences, and we're quite pleased that what we have is a season that meets all needs."
The philosophy extends to visiting orchestras.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square opens the summer (June 23). The Pittsburgh Symphony (July 10) features pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch with Martin Short and Jason Alexander in "The Last Three Tenors . . . We Promise." Pittsburgh's second appearance (July 9) is pure classical: Beethoven's Overture to Egmont, his Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor with pianist Teo Gheorghiu, and the Symphony No. 5.
The Russian National Orchestra plays the soundtrack to the BBC documentary Blue Planet (July 27) narrated live by Jane Pauley, and, with Russian acrobats, Cirque de la Symphonie (July 28).
The orchestra's "From Russia With Love" concert (July 29) with conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov offers music from Dr. Zhivago and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, plus Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
The soloist in the Rachmaninoff is Kwan Yi, a Curtis Institute of Music graduate. The Mann of late has passed over traditional headliners of the industry for Curtis students and recent graduates.
The shift is consistent with the youth theme Cahill has developed for the venue. Two events this summer aim to extend a hand to audiences beyond the Mann's older-adult demographic usually drawn to orchestra concerts.
A free, all-day open house geared toward children (May 21) will feature music on several stages and other events.
And the Mann has commissioned a new work, something it's never done before, as far as Cahill can determine. Shanghai-born composer Du Yun's work Angel's Bone: An Imaginary Tale of Fact, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, will be premiered Sept. 23 at an event that incorporates DJs and, on the Mann stage, a late-night dance party.
Contact music critic Peter Dobrin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-5611. He blogs at www.philly.com/philly/blogs/artswatch.