February 21, 2016
Symphony 101. An audience of mice. A symphony of motifs. And an entire world of music opens up to the young reader in Welcome to the Symphony: A Musical Exploration of the Orchestra Using Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 by Carolyn Sloan. The book, with illustrations by James Williamson, takes the vantage point of small, furry listeners who have come to hear Beethoven and discuss what it all means. We learn who the concertmaster is and what he or she does, what dynamics and tempos are, how a theme works in a piece of music, and a little something about the history and function of the instruments of the orchestra.
August 4, 2015 |
The traits that make the orchestral player do not necessarily translate to chamber music, but you never would have known that from hearing violinist Amy Lee on Friday night at the Curtis Institute of Music. The 2005 Curtis grad is now associate concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, an ensemble whose defining characteristic is its exquisite precision. That Lee reflected the Cleveland philosophy was hardly surprising. The extent of her individualized approach, however, suggested she doesn't need an interpretive assist from the podium.
July 29, 2015 |
Czech pianist Ivan Moravec, 84, died Monday in a Prague hospital after having been treated for pneumonia for several weeks, his New York agent said. Born in Prague and especially loved for his Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, and Brahms interpretations, Mr. Moravec made his London debut in 1959, and his American debut in 1964 with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell. His recordings - especially those of Chopin and Debussy - remain prized by collectors. One frequent stop on his American calendar was Philadelphia, where he was heard both as a recitalist with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and in concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
March 19, 2015 |
A memorial service and concert have been set to honor former Philadelphia Orchestra principal cellist William Stokking, 81, of Medford. The service is to be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 401 Kings Highway N., Cherry Hill. The concert is to be at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Field Concert Hall of the Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust St. His wife, Nancy, said both events are open to the public. Mr. Stokking, who retired from the orchestra in 2005, died Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, at a Moorestown nursing home of complications from a stroke.
January 28, 2015 |
Five or six decades have passed since Herbert von Karajan's advocacy for Sibelius established an international sound concept on the composer's coattails. Polished and cool, Karajan's recordings of the Sibelius symphonies might have done more to advance the cause of ensemble perfection than of the composer. They were beautiful and superficial. And they were hardly the last word. Osmo Vänskä seemed to be dismantling Karajan's legacy phrase by phrase Sunday afternoon in a remarkable appearance with the orchestra of the Curtis Institute of Music in Verizon Hall.
January 22, 2015 |
Cellist Oliver Aldort remembers being struck by a particular quality of the Boston Symphony Orchestra while playing in the ensemble as a 17-year-old student at the Tanglewood Institute. "I had been used to a conservatory orchestra in which everyone is young and there is a constant turnover of players," he says, "and I had been used to the fact that so often the conductor will give the downbeat and there will be a lot of hesitation. . . . With the BSO, the orchestra had such a unified sense of rhythm as an ensemble - it was the easiest thing to play with.
December 22, 2014 |
William Stokking, 81, retired principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and former faculty member of the Curtis Institute, died Sunday, Dec. 14, at a Moorestown nursing home of complications from a stroke. Esteemed for his refined tone, Mr. Stokking joined the orchestra in 1960 and played for six years under Eugene Ormandy before departing to play as principal with the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia. Upon the chamber group's demise, he played for the Boston Philharmonic and as principal with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell before returning to the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1973.
April 6, 2014 |
When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared. Christoph von Dohnányi was on the podium, and, rounding out the Philadelphia Orchestra program in Verizon Hall with Brahms and Beethoven, he won traditionalist hearts.
October 3, 2012 |
How much money is a principal oboist worth? A section violinist? What about the president of a struggling symphony orchestra? Or a third-grade teacher, for that matter? Not long ago, I found myself explaining to my tween son why certain things he covets - a trendy brand of ear phones, in this case - command a high price, and why price tags are often divorced from justice and logic. It has always been true and always will be: Nothing has intrinsic value; something fetches only what someone is willing to pay for it. What someone is willing to pay for orchestral musicians in this country has changed radically in recent weeks.
January 19, 2012 |
Call it the Wolfgang Sawallisch effect. At age 84, conductor Herbert Blomstedt has conducted throughout Europe and the United States with inspired solidity for a half century. And, like Sawallisch in his final Philadelphia years, the professorial Blomstedt isn't fading into old-age mellowness; instead, he has acquired forceful intensity. The Philadelphia Orchestra is the latest topflight ensemble to have Blomstedt as an honored guest, in a career marked by serial music directorships from Dresden to San Francisco to Leipzig.