January 26, 2015 |
When it comes to big-name albums, it's becoming rare for release dates to be announced much in advance. The element of surprise is a big bonus, and social media spread the word like wildfire. So, rather then tell us ahead of time, everybody's trying to keep a secret, then spring it on us for maximum promotional value, Beyoncé-style. So, along with the three to-be-announced releases by Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill listed below, a whole lot of other marquee releases expected in early 2015 have no specified arrival dates.
January 16, 2015 |
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.
December 24, 2014 |
Candles burned on every windowsill. Lights on the large, elegant holiday tree were on a dimmer that was adjusted to suit the manner of the music. So at the Crossing@Christmas concert Friday at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, there was a glow of the familiar in a program that was anything but. Holiday concerts are not occasions for surprise. Yet middling ones arrived via the side door both here and in two versions of Handel's Messiah that showed what different experiences that overfamiliar masterwork can be. The Brandywine Singers and Tempesta di Mare chose the infrequently heard Dublin version Saturday with no conductor at all, while the Philadelphia Orchestra's Sunday Messiah had guest conductor Matthew Halls from the front lines of England's ever-evolving early-music scene.
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.