June 29, 2012 |
Perfect weather. A terrific Beethoven 9th by the Philadelphia Orchestra. What more does one need in life? Though any number of the orchestra's season openers at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts have been perfectly pleasant, Wednesday's was one to remember with the debut of Chinese conductor Xian Zhang, who proves that authority need not be contingent on gender, nationality, or physical stature. My limited exposure to the diminutive Zhang, who rose through the ranks of the New York Philharmonic's conducting staff before the increasingly international career that she has now, suggests that she is a fundamentally reflective musician, looking beyond the flashy animal energy of a Tchaikovsky symphony for the entrancing complications underneath.
June 27, 2012 |
At the Mann Center, where rehearsal time for Philadelphia Orchestra concerts sometimes is frustratingly short, evidence of guest conductors' putting a personal imprint on repertoire can be elusive. The challenge multiplies in works so popular that a large percentage of the audience can whistle the start of the development section. Individuality, though, promises to shine through standard repertoire in the first-of-the-summer Mann orchestral concerts. Xian Zhang, the young Chinese American conductor now based in Milan, leads the Philadelphia Orchestra Wednesday night in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D minor.
March 4, 2012
Sunday Out of the past With each day, the world of John Steinbeck's Depression-era drama Of Mice and Men seems less remote. This tale of desperate men trying to find small comforts amid crushing economic pressure goes on at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at People's Light & Theatre , 39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern, and continues with shows on a varied schedule to March 25. Tickets are $25 to $45. Call 610-644-3500. . . . Terry Burrell wrote and stars in Ethel! about the life of the blues singer and actress Ethel Waters, who escaped a tough childhood in Chester only to endure hard times as she made her way in show business.
February 24, 2012
IN CASE YOU haven't heard, yarn bombing is the new graffiti, and not just because it's cleaner and more environmentally-friendly. Yarn bombing is the act of knitting a cozy or warmer to spontaneously and secretly wrap around something in a public space.One famous examples of this guerrilla knitting is last April's bombing of the Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. To prove how mainstream the movement has become, it's moved into...
February 10, 2012 |
Somebody needed to program the orphans in Beethoven's output, and pianist Anton Kuerti was the one to do it at his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital Wednesday at the Kimmel Center. Never a glamour pianist, the 73-year-old Vienna-born, Canada-based Kuerti - his hair longer and wilder than ever - has been performing cycles of Beethoven sonatas for as far back as I can remember (40 years) and is a model of nonapologist performers. As majestic as Beethoven can be, his piano sonatas contain some of his most private music - cranky, quirky, and not always clear in what it has to say, especially pieces published not in a litter, but by themselves, without catchy subtitles or nicknames.
January 21, 2012 |
In an age that seems perpetually restless, where silence for some is an unnatural state of being, everyone deserves to experience the peace that arrived Thursday night in the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 . Nothing in the evening's beginning pointed to such a lovely destination. The recorded announcement reminded Verizon Hall patrons to silence their electronic pacifiers. Philadelphia Orchestra guest conductor Herbert Blomstedt mounted the podium, and a cushion of quiet gathered around him. In the split second before the downbeat, a Latin-beat cellphone ring broke the moment.
January 16, 2012 |
The first thing anybody needs to know about Ludwig Live! is that the cabaret show, playing at the Kimmel Center's Innovation Studio, has little to do with Beethoven or even having laughs at his expense. Using tired devices such as the clash of high and low art, Ludwig Live! , which opened Friday, explores how intentionally ramshackle showbiz somehow holds the stage. The concept is that cranky old Beethoven - played by Charles Lindberg, in the cheapest wig imaginable - is somehow back from the dead and taking his story on the road with a troupe of actors.
January 14, 2012 |
The old belief that conductors don't become truly great until age 60 has wilted with so many emerging young talents whose intense magnetism leaves you unable to immediately say where they stand on the greatness continuum. The latest is Robin Ticciati, the 28-year-old British conductor who has ducked intense media glare with regional positions leading the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Touring Opera - while slowly making high-visibility debuts. The latest - with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he conducted at the Kimmel Center Thursday night in Beethoven's Violin Concerto , with soloist Arabella Steinbacher, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 - was a huge success with the audience.
January 10, 2012 |
If you missed the introductory speeches, the Ching-Yun Hu piano recital Saturday at the William Way Center seemed so at home as to be a typical occurrence rather than the first in a new series of fine arts events. The program, held in the grand reception era of the pre-Civil War building at 1315 Spruce St. that once housed the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia, was smart and ambitious. The full-house audience knew what it was hearing, and the demographics were fairly close to, say, an Astral Artists event, though with more same-sex couples, as one might expect at Philadelphia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center.