December 13, 2014 |
Mary Ellen Desmond is a Philadelphia treasure: a chanteuse whose musical moods swing from dark to light, a musician capable of great sensitivity and nuance, a teacher who responds to the needs of every student. That includes local singer/songwriter Matt McAndrew. He was a contestant on this season of NBC's The Voice and studied voice with Desmond in his freshman and sophomore years at the University of the Arts. All this, and Desmond still makes her annual Comfort & Joy concert for HIV/AIDs-related charities a must during the Christmas season.
December 13, 2014 |
Coloring outside the lines is a relative concept in the tyrannically ritualized world of classical music. Creativity is welcome - but please, nothing too creative. In reformatting the piano recital Wednesday night at the Kimmel Center the way he did, Jeremy Denk knew he'd better have a compelling justification. Happily, his point in amassing a half-hour block interspersing Schubert and Janácek was something more than a concert-hall invasion of the iPod Shuffle aesthetic. Others on this Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series have manipulated presentation - a joint recital by pianist Richard Goode and soprano Sarah Schafer comes to mind.
December 9, 2014 |
When it was all over, the bus driver said it best. Henry Hill, 57, was on his day off, truly a busman's holiday, but he went to the Kimmel Center to see the Joybells - a handbell choir of 12 men and women with Down syndrome - perform a Christmas concert with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. People who can't read music playing with graduates of Curtis and Juilliard. "Two different cultures blended as one," said Hill, who ordinarily drives the Joybells, although at the moment the bus is broken.
December 6, 2014 |
'We had a learning curve that worked out all right," says Josiah Johnson of the Head and the Heart. The six-piece band has toured nearly constantly since it self-released its first album in June 2010 (the venerable Sub Pop Records rereleased it early the next year). They rose quickly from playing coffeehouses in their native Seattle to opening slots for bands such as Dr. Dog, My Morning Jacket, and the Dave Matthews Band. They headline the Tower Theater Friday night. Johnson is one of the Head and the Heart's three vocalists and songwriters.
November 27, 2014 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform a free concert Tuesday at the Kimmel Center as part of the nationwide GivingTuesday campaign that seeks charitable contributions. Seating is general admission, and tickets may be reserved beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, at www.philorch.org . There will be holiday music in Commonwealth Plaza starting at 6 p.m., with opportunities to conduct the players. The Verizon Hall doors open at 7, and the 75-minute concert begins at 7:30. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the ensemble in seasonal favorites from Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, and Brahms, plus works by Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon and others.
November 19, 2014 |
It was a cold and miserable November night, and the traffic getting to the Wells Fargo Center was brutal. And all Stevie Wonder was going to do, anyway, was play a 38-year-old album from start to finish. What's the big deal? Wouldn't it have been easier just to stay home, punch up Songs in the Key of Life on the sound system, and nurse your Eagles wounds on the sofa? That would have been the wrong move, because the show the 64-year-old musical marvel put on Sunday night more than lived up to its billing as the concert event of the season.
October 25, 2014 |
Enjoy spooktacular sounds and artistry, in your favorite costume, Saturday at the Philadelphia Orchestra's Halloween Fantastique with Cirque de la Symphonie at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The orchestra will perform 10 pieces including Danny Elfman's Batman movie theme. Other featured works include Adam Glaser's "March of the Little Goblins," French composer Hector Berlioz's "March to the Scaffold" from Symphonie Fantastique , and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Dance of the Tumblers" from The Snow Maiden . Cirque de la Symphonie will perform acrobatic dance, and kids are encouraged to come in their Halloween costumes.
October 18, 2014 |
There are a lot of avant-pop duos out there at this musical moment, mixing looped harp sounds with arching, atmospheric guitars, melodicas, and synthesizers. But Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler, who play Friday at PhilaMOCA, have them beat. With their new release Slant of Light , harpist Lattimore and producer/multi-instrumentalist Zeigler prove they've got that market cornered, offering tone poems that are by turns daring, dynamic, and subtle. The pair have often played live accompaniment for the moody 1968 French film Le Révélateur . Zeigler says that "when scoring that film, we found ourselves heading in a more melodic direction than we had previously, so it inadvertently influenced our approach to improvisation.
October 17, 2014 |
In terms of bullying incursions of modern life, the Philadelphia Orchestra's new program-note app ranks somewhere between leaf blowers and fruit stickers. Which is to say that for someone somewhere, life is probably better for having these advances around, but the rest of us don't have to be happy about it. In reality, I wasn't disturbed by LiveNote, which had its debut Tuesday at the orchestra's annual free concert for college students. As the ensemble played Rimsky and Bernstein, listeners with iPhones could toggle between streams of information, either about the piece and composer, and what the app calls "analysis" - not harmonic analysis, but something much more basic.