October 28, 2014 |
J.S. Bach is said to have been so inventive you could hand him a modern phone directory and he would make it sing. That theory was tested in Tempesta di Mare's enterprising program of three generations of baroque-era composers, solidly but not so probingly performed Saturday at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, in which Bach was the best-known name but at times had the least to work with. Framed by Michael Praetorius and Johann Rosenmüller, Bach accounted for two of five cantatas that traced a cradle-to-the-grave life cycle, the oddest being a birthday piece, Duchlauchtigster Leopold , whose text is full of obsequious, embarrassing praise for the prince being celebrated.
December 13, 2013 |
It seems an unlikely place for a performance: three deep, concrete trenches, aqua- and ochre-streaked walls, a slightly ribbed, concrete ceiling. Ancient graffiti is scrawled along the trench walls - 1977, ZEP, ROO, MIK, JIM. Decayed paint is largely scraped away. A turbulent river roils just outside arched windows. Yet, this is the place, the old Kelly Pool beneath the historic Fairmount Water Works, unused and deteriorating since it was swamped by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, where one of the city's newest and least likely impresarios will present the world premiere of a cantata.
December 11, 2012 |
Baroque-era music, as heard today, still has a yawning chronological gap in the middle. Did so little happen during that half century between Heinrich Schutz (who died in 1672) and J.S. Bach's heyday in the 1720s? Tempesta di Mare is among a handful of baroque orchestras correcting that perception, so much that its weekend concerts (I heard Saturday night's at the Arch Street Meeting House) hadn't any widely known composers, though all were worth hearing. Compositional manners, so codified later on in Bach and Handel, were heard with provocative deviations in the cantata Meine Freundin, du bist schön by Johann Christoph Bach (an earlier relative of J.S. who lived from 1643 to 1703)
May 23, 2011 |
Once modern performers and listeners progress beyond the Bach and Handel zone of the baroque period, they must decide how much to take the scores at their word. Composing was an everyday activity in the 18th century, much of the music written to be heard only once. So, is Tempesta di Mare's scholarly reevaluation of Georg Telemann's 1765 secular cantata Ino , premiered this weekend in its season-closing concerts, a significant event in the history of a significant piece? Yes, but not necessarily because listeners were closer to the notes Telemann put on paper.
May 7, 2004 |
Encountering a voice such as Stephanie Blythe's in a room as small as the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater is one of those experiences you're never prepared for - like happening upon an erupting volcano. At close range, Blythe doesn't seize you in the fashion of Ewa Podles, whose vocal force is confrontational in its penetrating strangeness. Blythe is about vocal lushness layered into a single sound, not dissimilar to voices you've heard, but much deeper, and so fluid it's like a genie that can fit into most any bottle.
April 22, 2004 |
She was a collage of many, seemingly irreconcilable, parts. During the nine-plus lives that were packed into her 55 years, Philadelphia philanthropist Anni Baker was a Las Vegas backup singer, a Broadway gypsy, an art-song recitalist, composer of her own operetta, and mastermind of a Renaissance fair in Upstate New York. Even before her voice was ruined by chemotherapy, she was one of Philadelphia's most active champions of new music, commissioning composers from Libby Larsen to Jennifer Higdon, appearing in the front row of new-music concerts, beaming at the performers underneath a broad-brimmed hat. Now, five years after her death from breast cancer, she is becoming a piece of her own, an hourlong cantata composed by Andrea Clearfield titled The Long Bright, which will be premiered on Monday at the Kimmel Center by the combined Orchestra 2001, the Temple University Children's Prep Choir, and soprano Hila Plitmann.
November 25, 2002 |
The best way to drive away a concert audience might be to promise learning at the expense of pleasure. The Philomel Baroque Orchestra promised pleasure indeed at this weekend's concerts, with its beloved guest soprano, Julianne Baird, plus a bit of frisson with the regional premiere of Handel's rediscovered Gloria. But by the end of this cunning program, as heard Friday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church here, you'd learned what makes Handel great and when that greatness is absent. The program was a cross section of Handel's art and his times, suggesting how much higher he stood than his contemporaries in 18th-century London.
November 15, 2001 |
The United Christian Church, 8525 New Falls Rd., Levittown, will host an evening of folk music at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the church. Folk singer Ann Leyland, a frequent performer with the Philadelphia Folk Song Society's odyssey programs, will be the featured attraction. Leyland will perform a variety of folk music, including French and Irish songs. A donation of $7 is suggested. Special Shabbat evening Beth Sholom Congregation, 8231 Old York Rd., Elkins Park, will host a special Shabbat evening featuring music at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the synagogue.
November 8, 2001 |
The Brandywine Area Community Choir will present a benefit concert 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 338 Manor Ave., Downingtown. The concert will feature a patriotic cantata, America! A Pilgrim's Prayer, A Patriot's Dream. Donations to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund will be accepted. The choir, featuring 70 singers, has performed cantatas for more than 20 years. Premiere at Har Zion Har Zion Temple, 1500 Hagys Ford Rd., Penn Valley, will host the premiere of KINGS, a New York musical created by award-winning composer Elliot Weiss and author/lyricist Esta Cassway of Wyncote, at 7 p.m. Sunday.
January 7, 2001 |
The fine lines between blazing inspiration, egomaniacal determination and financial brinksmanship were drawn anew over the last year when conductor John Eliot Gardiner undertook the biggest project of his or any musician's career: The Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach's death, he performed the composer's 198 cantatas all over the world on or close to the dates of the church calendar for which they were written. The grand finale was New Year's Eve at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York, leaving listeners cheering, choristers weeping, and, at the party afterward, the conductor's aides hugging the bar. The haul was long, encompassing 93 concerts at 61 churches in 12 countries, performed by his 18-voice Monteverdi Choir and 35-member English Baroque Soloists.