February 26, 2013 |
Wolfgang Sawallisch, 89, the German maestro who defied expectations by taking the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 70 and remaking it into perhaps the most assured blend of orchestral polish and power in the United States, died Friday evening at home in Grassau outside Munich, according to a statement from the Bavarian State Opera. He had been stricken in recent years by a number of diseases and conditions. Mr. Sawallisch, only the orchestra's sixth music director in a century, succeeded the dashing, controversial Riccardo Muti in 1993.
February 12, 2013
James DePreist, 76, artistic adviser to the Pasadena Symphony and Pops and one of the few black conductors to lead major orchestras in the United States and abroad, died Friday, Feb. 8, at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., of complications from a heart attack he had last spring, said his manager. Mr. DePreist overcame polio in his 20s to pursue a conducting career that, over four decades, took him to stages from Sweden to Japan. His longest and most distinguished tenure was with the Oregon Symphony, where he was music director from 1980 to 2003, a period when that orchestra gained national and international renown.
February 12, 2013 |
When Philadelphia Singers founder and music director Michael Korn died in 1991 at age 44, no one could imagine the group continuing. But it did; in fact, his successor, David Hayes, has now been at the helm longer than Korn was. And as Hayes clocks more than two decades in the job, he is asking the board to start envisioning a future without him. Hayes told his singers Monday night that the 2014-15 season will be his last. A search committee for his successor will be formed, a board member said.
January 12, 2013 |
With no conductor for Thursday night's Philadelphia Orchestra concert, the ensemble was left to confront Mozart on its own. Little surprise that the Eine kleine Nachtmusik was small and bland, the Symphony No. 25 erratic. And yet, the composer's C Minor Piano Concerto glowed with a point of view of such blinding beauty that we probably won't hear its likes again anytime soon. It was all planned, actually - even rehearsed that way. Conductors are a relatively modern invention, especially the breed of whom celebrity is expected, and for this one program the orchestra constructed a concert that asked musicians to find leadership elsewhere.
January 6, 2013 |
Of all the great conductors of the 20th century, Sir Georg Solti was the one who never quite arrived in Valhalla. Though he lived and conducted longer than two of his starrier contemporaries, Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan, Solti (1912-1997) achieved only temporary immortality for the Wagner Ring cycle he recorded between 1958 and 1965, which is periodically named one of the great classical recordings of all time. Solti was a Grammy Award magnet, winning 32, an all-time, still-unrivaled record for any artist, classical or popular.
December 28, 2012 |
I RIDE SEPTA's regional-rail system. The trains are clean enough and mostly on time.Conductors are polite and helpful, give or take a grump. So, I wasn't sure what to make of the clown of a conductor I came across the other night. Was he some jokester? A jerk? A disgruntled employee? I'm thinking all three. You tell me. I stepped onto the 6:43 p.m. Chestnut Hill West train from Market East and nearly plowed into the woman in front of me. Before I could give her the "tourist much?"
December 27, 2012 |
Some traditions exist because they're needed. After a long year filled with incident, you could sink into your Verizon Hall seat on Sunday afternoon as fresh-voiced tenor John Tessier began to sing, with excellent diction and soothing tones, "Comfort ye, my people . . . . " It's Handel's Messiah , of course, a piece that could be a year-round classic (Choral Arts Society and Tempesta di Mare will perform it in March) but tends to arrive at the end of the year like a reward. The Philadelphia Orchestra's Sunday performance was historically responsible (the orchestra numbered about 30)
December 9, 2012 |
Sergei Rachmaninoff was well past the nervous breakdown that threatened to end his composing life when he finished his Symphony No. 2 . However, this 1907 lush, lyrical, hour-long piece was restored to its monumentally neurotic status in guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda's Friday outing with the Philadelphia Orchestra - in an all-Rachmaninoff program also featuring the debut of pianist Denis Matsuev. In the symphony, rhythms were nervous, almost terrifying. Orchestral choirs were constantly invading from the side door - dramatically poised against the backdrop of the composer's customary orchestral luster.
December 6, 2012 |
Sometimes, the Philadelphia Orchestra needs an outsider to remind it of who it is and what it was. Gianandrea Noseda - a guest conductor so popular with the orchestra that he was reengaged for a two-week stint this season starting Thursday (with other return visits in the works) - happens to be the foremost Rachmaninoff specialist of his generation. This week, he's conducting that composer's Symphony No. 2 Thursday through Saturday at the Kimmel Center with what is generally considered to be "Rachmaninoff's orchestra.