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Classical Music

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ENTERTAINMENT
January 25, 2009 | By David Patrick Stearns and Peter Dobrin, Inquirer music critics
Enjoy the music while you can. The economic downturn has had no immediate impact on classical-music programming, which is devised and funded at least a year in advance and is, for the moment, perfectly safe. It may even be more accessible these days: Tickets could be easier to come by, especially if many are left over from subscription sales. But the stock-market gyrations that began last fall will be felt come next fall. So here it is: the glory that is 21st-century Philadelphia - for however long it lasts.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 27, 1986 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
President Reagan has not yet sent Philip Habib to the bunker housing the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), but some high-level problem-solver may be needed before that group detonates another round of Grammy Awards. In the past, the Grammys for classical-music recordings have escaped broad notice for the fundamental reason that prizes are at best meaningless in art and at worst destructive. Pictures of Soviet composers wearing their medals make musicians laugh - a little sadly.
NEWS
September 24, 1987 | By Lesley Valdes, Inquirer Music Critic
Unlike its counterparts overseas, the American classical music industry has never made enough of a fuss about music of its own. This is due partly to the conservative nature of the art form itself: Patriotism, like protest movements, usually circles round the masses rather than more elitist groups. Then, too, it has taken a long long time to get over our cultural inferiority complex. Lacking a Three B's of American repertoire to enthuse over, major record companies here have gladly stuck to safer European classics - which in recent years has been easy to do, because a number of firms have been sold to conglomerates based abroad.
NEWS
January 29, 2012 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
The Kimmel Center is presenting less expensive, less exotic visiting orchestras. Local ensembles are increasing collaborations, so that the same event does double or triple duty by counting as a concert in the brochures of multiple organizations. And the city's musical face to the larger world, the Philadelphia Orchestra, has been in bankruptcy more than nine months and doesn't hope to exit until sometime after the filing's first anniversary. Times are tough. Young artists from the Curtis Institute of Music are leaving the nest and heading into careers of equal parts risk and promise.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 30, 1995 | By Peter Dobrin, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Outing has come to classical music, and the Schubert is flying off the shelves. So is the Chopin. Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Bernstein and Britten, too. They are among the composers grouped together on Out Classics, an RCA release making a big splash. Trumpets an invitation on the back of the CD: "Revel in over an hour of seductive classics by eight of the world's greatest composers who just happen to be gay. " Hordes are taking RCA up on the offer, even though no one can be sure whether all of these composers really happened to be gay. The disc has made the Billboard Top Classical Albums chart for the last several weeks, jockeying neck-and-neck with Sensual Classics, Too. That CD offers works by straight composers, but also aims squarely at a gay market by featuring on its cover, as does Out Classics, a homoerotic photo.
LIVING
December 13, 1996 | By Paddy Noyes, FOR THE INQUIRER
Usually Lissette, 11, is at the center of the action - whether playing kickball, rollerblading, swinging, or throwing a ball. Music, however, pulls her to a corner of a room to be by herself. She will sit on the floor, hum, and do sign language. Classical music is her favorite, with Beethoven and Mozart leading the way. Church music runs a close second. She'll nod and smile when she hears "Jesus loves me, this I know. " When Lissette went into foster care, from a background of abuse and neglect, she could often be found going through the garbage, looking for food.
NEWS
October 7, 1990 | By Will Thompson, Inquirer Staff Writer
It becomes more evident each fall that many of the best classical music concerts in the region take place in Delaware County and nearby communities that are conveniently accessible to county residents. The performances include the Sunday afternoon chamber music concert series under soft chandelier light in the ballroom of Wallingford Community Arts Center, the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra and specific concerts in the Wayne Concert Series. The 65-member Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra, for example, has provided outstanding classical music in Lansdowne since 1945, when it was common for most suburban residents to travel to Philadelphia to hear orchestras.
NEWS
September 27, 2007
  Theater Amadeus Combines intrigue, suspense, comedy & passion. Closes 10/27. Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St.; 215-546-7824. www.wilmatheater.org . $37-$60. Peter Pan Take a journey to Never Never Land. Closes 9/30. Cumberland Players at the Little Theatre, Sherman Ave. & South East Blvd., Vineland; 856-692-5626. www.cumberlandplayers.com . $10. Anything Goes Cole Porter's famous musical. Closes 9/29. Playcrafters Theatre, Store Rd., Skippack; Reservations recommended: 610-584-4005; www.playcrafters.
NEWS
April 6, 2010 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
You know Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream like the back of your hand thanks to a second-grade teacher who first set the fairy score aglow in your imagination. But did you ever hear the abrupt gesture a few minutes into the score as the donkey bray it was meant to evoke? On a purely abstract level, Smetana's M? Vlast is wondrous music. But it doesn't fully reveal itself unless you already know about ??rka's revenge on the male race, and that the impertinent bassoon part near the end is the snore of the men she lulls to sleep.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 26, 2004 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
For all the grand and eccentric characters in classical music, the medium has stood somewhat apart from the electronic visual age - until it began mating with DVD. It looks like a happy honeymoon. Who, for example, would have thought that Dame Felicity Lott's memorable recital two years ago at the Kimmel Center - enjoyed by 700 or so local voice-lovers - could be taken home from the DVD bins of retail stores or ordered on Amazon.com Web pages? Pianophiles still mourn the absence of the Russian Grigory Sokolov, who made a blinding impression here years ago but no longer tours the United States.
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ENTERTAINMENT
October 21, 2014 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
The narrative arc of Crescendo! The Power of Music hews to a common form - it develops characters, makes us care about them, finds crises, and ties things up neatly at the end of the 85-minute film. By the reckoning of every voice we hear, Play On, Philly!, the intensive after-school program at St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia, is nothing less than a miracle. It would be wonderful to feel more sure about that. The most resonant cry classical music has mustered against the roar of commercial culture is the claim that it can change the world.
NEWS
July 14, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
ATLANTIC CITY - Behind doors so richly red they glow even amid the glittering casino, the Borgata Resort's Music Box theater on Sunday evening will welcome something it wasn't built for: the Bay-Atlantic Symphony playing the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with superstar pianist Yuja Wang. There are no obvious explanations. "It's an eclectic age," says Jed Gaylin, the 17-year music director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony. "Classical music is no longer 'that stuff.' It's a change of pace.
NEWS
June 4, 2014 | By Stephan Salisbury, Inquirer Staff Writer
Three recent graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music will become inaugural fellows of ArtistYear, a pilot program designed to bring a year-long AmeriCorps-like community service opportunity to the world of the arts in Philadelphia. The program, launched as part of the Aspen Institute's Franklin Project, which aims to create one million service-year positions by 2023, will kick off in the 2014-15 academic year. Former U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, chair of the Franklin Project's Leadership Council, said the project aims to make community service a standard practice for all young Americans.
NEWS
June 2, 2014 | BY TOM DI NARDO, For the Daily News
THE ORCHESTRA takes it outside for its Mann series, including some gigs as the live soundtrack for blockbuster films. The opera season gets hot - and wild. Some hypertalented up-and-comers get their turn at the Kimmel. And the Philadelphia Singers invite you to sing along. Ah, summer! "A Coffin in Egypt," June 6-15. Opera Philadelphia presents the East Coast premiere of a work about a 90-year-old woman who has outlived her family - but can't escape horrendous remnants of her past.
NEWS
May 21, 2014 | By Helen Ubinas, Daily News Columnist
I WENT TO Harrity Elementary School in West Philly last week to get a sneak listen to the Sister Cities Girlchoir before their big concert. I don't use the term "big" lightly here. On Sunday, about 700 proud relatives, friends and supporters filled Center City's Church of the Holy Trinity for their annual fundraiser. It was a sight to behold, especially when just two years ago founder Alysia Lee was new to town, and knocking on doors looking for funding and girls to join the choir.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 14, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Classical music is supposed to be immune to the kind of format requirements that constrain mainstream radio and television. And yet modern masterworks by great composers go unplayed: They're too short to be worth the effort of assemblage or their instrumentation is odd. Proof came from Orchestra 2001's concert Sunday at Swarthmore College, full of undeservedly neglected music. In fact, a full 15 minutes of stage reshuffling was necessary between Richard Wernick's Kaddish-Requiem and Henri Dutilleux's Les Citations , so different were their sound worlds.
NEWS
January 27, 2014 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
Even amid continuing consolidation in the classical realm, the classical devotee is a busy listener. The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society has taken the lead as the city's constant reminder that it's all about artists and repertoire. In fact, without a single concession, the scale and quality of the series is unlike anything else in the country: 65 concerts, hosting musicians from across the globe in piano and song recitals, string quartet mixes and matches, and other ensemble projects of incredibly high artistic value.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 25, 2014 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
You've never met anyone quite like Peter Serkin before. In his three-piece suit with white pocket square, he was a natty presence on the Perelman Theater stage Wednesday night. It was the playing that was rumpled. Not always. There were many moments of incredible polish, especially when it came to the pianist's approach to sound. He has that ability to conjure an instantly rounded tone without doing any violence to the start of the note. But all over - in Beethoven no less than in a contemporary score - Serkin, 66, occupied the space somewhere between an eccentric and outsider.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 23, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
What a difference when chamber music is played with absolutely no extraneous sound. Violinist Isabelle Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov have considerable big-concert-hall careers. For Monday's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert at the Kimmel Center, however, they left that part of their musical lives behind and met small-scale works from the Beethoven, Weber, and Schubert repertoires - so much on their own terms (even more than in their prestigious recordings for Harmonia Mundi)
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