October 23, 2003 |
Way back in 1988, when Frank Gehry unveiled his radical design for a new downtown orchestra hall, few here could have told you where the city of Bilbao was. But it's safe to say that Angeleno leaders were muttering the name of that Basque rust-belt town this week as they celebrated the long-delayed opening of what was supposed to have been the precursor to Gehry's wildly successful Bilbao Guggenheim museum: the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Rarely in modern times has the making of a work of architecture been as epic as the story of Disney Hall, the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
September 24, 2003 |
You go to a big sports or entertainment event, and you look down at the front row and say, "Geez, how did they get those seats?" But maybe the folks in the front row are looking up at the luxury box and saying, "Wow! And they get waitress service. " Then again, perhaps the luxury-box guy is looking wistfully at you, thinking, "If only I didn't have to entertain these clients. I loved the game better when I was a kid sitting in the boondocks. " What the best seat is can be quite a fluid idea.
July 11, 2003 |
No matter what part of the world it comes from, dance music is most effective when it feels effortless. Wednesday night at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, the legendary Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab made calculus-level dance music built around polyrhythms that would look dauntingly complex if notated on paper. But rather than sound brainy, the music - which integrated African folk forms and Afro-Cuban son - floated and wriggled and soared. Its incessant wavelike repetition helped transform ordinary beats (a lilting midtempo reggae, a stately hymnlike processional)
June 1, 2003 |
In this South American city, where nary a chin droops among the cosmetically enhanced elite, the wealthy Argentines are as devoted to the good life, a dulce de leche kind of existence, as they are to looking more fabulous than lesser mortals. This is doubtlessly why a dozen audience members lingered too long at the Philadelphia Orchestra's Tuesday concert at the Teatro Col?n bar after intermission ended, smoking furiously and quaffing champagne - a mere $10 a bottle. As guest conductor Yakov Kreizberg got to the sixth measure of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, the revelers streamed in, many proceeding noisily to the very front of the exquisite 1908 concert hall, a baroque riot of persimmon damask and gilt.
February 8, 2003 |
In an 1841 diary entry, Robert Schumann's wife said her husband's Symphony No. 1 in B flat major evoked "the fragrance of violets . . . and the sound of birdsong in the spring air. " But as another snowstorm blanketed Philadelphia yesterday, the symphony represented something else entirely for Art Museum-area resident Angelo Volandes: a bargain. Volandes, 32, used the weather to take advantage of a "snow sale" by the Philadelphia Orchestra. About midday, Volandes and 16,000 others on the orchestra's mailing list received e-mails announcing that tickets to the afternoon concert, with face values of up to $85, would sell for just $10. Two hours later, Volandes was settling into a $75 orchestra-level seat to hear selections by Mendelssohn and Schumann.
December 15, 2002 |
When planners were out trying to loosen purse strings to help build the $275 million Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, it was sold as an 18-hour generator of street traffic, a major spark to economic development, a home to indigenous arts groups that would flourish amid an outpouring of new support, and an importer of international cultural riches previously unsampled here. Its leaders dangled a restaurant that would become a destination in its own right, and an architecture so iconic that visitors would flock to tour the building - our version of the Sydney Opera House.
October 16, 2002 |
Sometimes high-glam events are better when experienced from a distance - on TV. Suppose, for example, you went to Carnegie Hall's season-opening Oct. 2 concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. Besides paying up to $181 for a ticket, you'd have had to run home early from work for your tuxedo or evening gown, and once at the concert hall, you might have ended up hating your friends because they got a glimpse of Paul Newman in the audience and you didn't.
October 1, 2002 |
If encountering Bach is like going home, Ignat Solzhenitsyn and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia made it an especially warm and expressive visit with the complete Brandenburg Concertos Sunday afternoon. These works are familiar even to anyone who has never stepped foot in a concert hall through their use in FM-radio theme songs, movies, and European-car commercials. For some reason, too, they've come to be associated with the holidays, and so it seemed apt to hear them for what turned out to be the first performance in the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater after construction of the hall was completed.
April 15, 2002 |
Some music enters your consciousness through alternative routes and, in the case of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia's excellent concert of music by Arvo Part and James MacMillan on Saturday, through alternative venues. If you want these personal, contemplative works to bore and baffle, put them in a concert hall. If you want them to entrance, put them in St. Patrick's Church at 20th and Locust Streets, which is what Choral Arts did. It's not a matter of putting spiritual music in a religious setting.
February 16, 2002 |
For most of us, the classic recurring nightmare is showing up for final exams without studying. For classical musicians, it's spacing out on curtain time. And for violinist Thomas Zehetmair yesterday, the nightmare came true. Zehetmair, in town to play Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, left his hotel room just before 2 p.m. yesterday, went for a walk, and opened up the paper to find that, at that very moment, he should have been on stage at the Kimmel Center floating Mozart over a crowd of 2,500.