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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
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.
NEWS
November 12, 1987 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
She has been photographed in the New York Yankees' dugout, grinning at outfielder Dave Winfield. She has been televised playing her own pinball machine. Her fondness for Godzilla is common knowledge among musicians. But for violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, all that is beside the point. The point, says the one-time Cherry Hill resident in an intense, tough-guy voice, is the violin, the music and her role as a spokeswoman for her musical generation, a role that has soared as her career has rocketed.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 23, 2015
MOST PEOPLE take one look at tall, dark and handsome Joseph Conyers, and assume that he's a professional athlete, most likely a football player. Much to nearly everyone's surprise, this 33-year-old hunk is a fit, smart, hardworking classical musician. "I love classical music," beamed Conyers, who is the Philadelphia Orchestra's effervescent assistant principal double bassist. Although Philadelphia is now his beloved adopted home, the Savannah, Ga., native was nurtured in a close family centered around the church and music.
NEWS
April 8, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Culture Writer
Loren Robert Craft, 86, of Middletown, Del., a retired newspaper editor, died Sunday April 5, at Christiana Hospital in Delaware. Mr. Craft's family moved around during World War II before settling in Delaware County, and he attended Temple University and Hunter College. His first newspaper job was in the composing room at the Bulletin, where he was taken under the wing of the highly regarded editor Walter Lister. "At one point, he was Lister's personal copyboy," said Sylvia Craft, Mr. Craft's wife.
NEWS
March 2, 2015 | By John Timpane, Inquirer Staff Writer
It was magical. Classical guitarist Jason Vieaux (pronounced vee-OH ), 41, just won a Grammy for best classical instrumental solo album for Play . At Curtis, where he teaches, he's sitting on stage at Field Concert Hall (the one you see in the TV concerts), tuning up his Gernot Wagner guitar while a photographer gets ready. (You know someone's serious about music when he tunes up for a photo.) Then he breaks into a heartbreaking arrangement of "What a Wonderful World," and suddenly you remember why they call music beautiful: New emotions emerge in the old Louis Armstrong hit, something you already loved, but now you have new reasons for loving it. Vieaux has been at Curtis since 2011, when he and fellow guitar star David Starobin were recruited to start a guitar department.
NEWS
January 26, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
The guard is changing. After 27 years, Alan Harler is stepping down from the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, but not without first conducting Bach's St. Matthew Passion . Also departing after Year 27 is Orchestra 2001's founder and director James Freeman, who will do what he does best - George Crumb - in an 85th-birthday tribute to the great composer whose works he has so often launched. David Hayes seems too young to have been with the Philadelphia Singers for 25 years, but it's true, and he announced his departure before the group said that this season would be its last as well.
NEWS
January 16, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
On a subfreezing night with an untested concert format, is it any surprise that the Philadelphia Orchestra's first LiveNote Night, designed to attract new audiences to classical music, was preaching to the semi-converted on Wednesday at the Kimmel Center? The event represented a confluence of past seasons' "Beyond the Score" concerts (earlier, shorter, instructively oriented) and the pop-up performance scheduled spontaneously in 2013 when the orchestra's Carnegie Hall date was canceled by a stagehands strike.
NEWS
December 15, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Remember the era, way back in the 20th century, when the classical-music world seemed to proceed with majestic sameness? When Eugene Ormandy and the Fabulous Philadelphians seemed to go on forever, one Scheherazade at a time? Such stability and artistic centralization are certainly long gone. But in their place? Much fascinating new music - in odd and interesting places. Best? Worst? All one can really discuss are milestones. And here are some from 2014: Concertos that change your life.
NEWS
November 19, 2014 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Italo Taranta, 86, of Drexel Hill, a music teacher, composer, and choral director, died Tuesday, Nov. 4, of complications from Alzheimer's disease at home. Born in Paganica in southern Italy, Mr. Taranta came to the United States as an infant and settled with his parents in southeastern Ohio before moving to Michigan. His parents had a difficult relationship; he escaped into the solace of music, although he struggled for years with migraine headaches and depression. "Rarely was there ever a person more passionate about something than my dad was about classical music.
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.
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