October 26, 2011 |
New companion pieces to long-established masterworks are arriving with increasing frequency, often with an inhibiting effect on the most strong-minded composer. But not Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The 72-year-old author of numerous rock-solid concertos and chamber works was commissioned, partly by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, to write for the instrumentation of Schubert's Trout Quintet , and if anything, found an even more defined voice. At the Oct. 19 local premiere at the Kimmel Center by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio (augmented by violist Michael Tree and bassist Harold Robinson)
October 25, 2011 |
With its recent tumult of labor strife and money woes, the Kimmel Center seems an unlikely site to stage a musical spring. Yet there it was last weekend, the irrepressible stirring of renewal. At Saturday morning's first Philadelphia Orchestra family concert this year, cellist John-Henry Crawford, 18, a Curtis student and winner in the orchestra's Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition, projected polished charisma and a singing sound in the first movement of Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto . His was only one voice among a hundred the next afternoon at the season's first outing of the Curtis Institute of Music orchestra beyond its luxurious new tailor-built rehearsal room.
October 22, 2011 |
If anybody needed convincing that Lang Lang isn't just a pianist with hot fingers, cool clothes, and lots of self-promotion, positive proof came in both concertos he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra this week at Verizon Hall. Played on Thursday, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 will also be heard by the masses at his Saturday concert and cinemacast with the orchestra, as well as at the Monday repeat screening. Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 was reserved for the live-only audience on Friday at the Kimmel Center and for Tuesday, when he and the orchestra play Carnegie Hall.
September 30, 2011 |
There is a pixielike quality to the woman who opens the door to a high-in-the-sky condominium just off City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd. And no wonder: While she is officially Jane Norman, she is TV's Pixanne to the legions of young fans who joined her every weekday afternoon in her magic forest. For nearly two decades, first locally on WCAU-TV from 1960 to 1969, then nationally for seven more years when the show was syndicated, she was a kind of Pied Piper in green felt. Norman's close-cropped hair, her enviably slender body, and her sparkling spirit hark back to that woodland creature who made the world seem like a wonderful, magical place for kids.
September 9, 2011
Composer, arranger, bandleader, producer, and teacher Wardell Quezergue, 81, who arranged "Chapel of Love" for the Dixie Cups and was dubbed the "Creole Beethoven" by Allen Toussaint, has died. He died Tuesday of congestive heart failure, said son Brian Quezergue. Hits arranged by Mr. Quezergue include "Iko Iko" for the Dixie Cups, "Big Chief" for Professor Longhair, "Mr. Big Stuff" for Jean Knight, and "Groove Me" for King Floyd - the last two recorded the same day in 1961 at Mr. Quezergue's Malaco Records in Jackson, Miss.
July 12, 2011 |
If ever a Mann Center concert promised to die at the box office, it was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's all-Beethoven program Saturday night. Straight classics without fireworks have had only intermittent success at this populist venue - and always on weeknights, when great weather at the Shore won't get in the way. Yet the inside seating on Saturday was nearly full. And Itzhak Perlman wasn't even on the premises. As much as I welcome any visit from the fine Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the key players were unknowns: 18-year-old pianist Teo Gheorghiu, a Gary Graffman student at the Curtis Institute, and conductor Arild Remmereit, a Norwegian conductor whose chief U.S. credit is his recent appointment to the Rochester, N.Y., Philharmonic Orchestra.
May 21, 2011 |
Some music is too much itself to share the stage comfortably with anything else. Two such works, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 , met at Verizon Hall during Thursday's Philadelphia Orchestra concert, stared each other down, and retreated to their respective spheres without complementing each other in the least. In this cheek-by-jowl era when half your life is mushed into your iPhone, maybe life and art don't need to hang out together. The two pieces stood well enough on their own, thanks to good-to-excellent performances, but without the qualities that might flatter each other, the pieces seemed more strange than usual, as well as vulnerable to less-than-admiring scrutiny.
March 11, 2011 |
The very idea of a chamber music gala is almost comically incongruous. Tiaras? War medals? At the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society? I don't think so. The PCMS is celebrating its 25th anniversary because it's a refuge from surface gloss, artistic shortcuts, and greatest hits. There's no lite version. The only evidence of gala-ness at the Wednesday anniversary concert at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater was a few extra gray suits in the audience for a program that had more collaborative elements than usual, but was fairly representative of what usually happens here.
March 10, 2011 |
The idea keeps catching on - even if audiences are still catching up. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is preparing for its second live movie-theater simulcast on Sunday - only a week after Carmen in 3-D leapt from London's Royal Opera and a few weeks before the English National Opera's 3-D Lucrezia Borgia arrives on DirecTV. More quietly, the Philadelphia Orchestra continues on an alternate route, eschewing satellite technology for the Internet in the seventh of a series of nine simulcasts March 20. The music world can't help but be dazzled by the Metropolitan Opera's recently released simulcast numbers: The nine transmissions in the 2009-10 season sold 2.4 million tickets, grossed $48 million, and eventually made a net profit of $8 million for the opera company.