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ENTERTAINMENT
January 15, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Resurrecting a possible masterpiece shouldn't come with all the difficulties of Randall Thompson's Requiem . Indeed, the tenacity required for the Philadelphia Singers to bring the piece out of obscurity through concerts and recordings tells much about why the piece needs rescuing. The hour-long, 245-page Requiem - to be performed Sunday at the Church of the Holy Trinity - seemingly arises from a parallel universe. America's best-known midcentury choral composer used many familiar elements in his 1958 Requiem . But he assembled them, creativity in full flight, with an impractical density running counter to his usual sense of populist responsibility.
NEWS
November 24, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Violinist/conductor Itzhak Perlman enjoys a rare freedom in classical music: His relationship with audiences is such that he needs only to show up, and adoration is assured. What's frustrating is that Perlman doesn't do more with that status, especially since his string of subscription concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra this week features four performances, rather than the usual three. This program stands to reach more listeners than perhaps any other this season. From a repertoire standpoint, Perlman has never been terribly ambitious as a violinist.
NEWS
November 17, 2013 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
When he led his own superb Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra last year at the Mann Center, Manfred Honeck drew razor-sharp unanimity from the ensemble. That he could do the same Thursday night in his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra points to a conductor of unusual powers of persuasion. It helps that the interpretations were so gorgeously etched, so generously individualized. The program was skimmed from the top of the popularity charts, so you might not have expected to leave the hall buoyed by a sense of discovery.
NEWS
November 1, 2013 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
A SEPTA conductor has been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly attacking a passenger aboard a Regional Rail train at Suburban Station. A male passenger was boarding an outbound train on the Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail line on Oct. 15 when conductor Gregory Kelly Sr., 50, allegedly assaulted him, said SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams. SEPTA police responded and spoke to the passenger and multiple witnesses before taking Kelly off the job, Williams said. The passenger, whose name was not released, told CBS3 in an interview that Kelly screamed at him, punched him repeatedly and tried to choke him. He said Kelly became enraged after he accidentally bumped Kelly as he was boarding the train.
NEWS
October 27, 2013 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
In his date with the big fish, the title character in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea muses: "Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?" Many a conductor has sketched the title character in Debussy's La Mer mainly as a benign beauty, and there is plenty in the score to support that. But from the opening moments of the piece Thursday night, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, age 80, turned the Philadelphia Orchestra's gaze to a more varied and complex interpretation.
NEWS
October 11, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
PRINCETON - This time, the conductor had many moments to spare, but the Mariinsky Orchestra was late. And that can only mean one thing: Music director Valery Gergiev, infamous for arriving for concerts at the last possible minute, was never scheduled to be there. While Gergiev conducts at the Metropolitan Opera, Ignat Solzhenitsyn is taking three of the orchestra's U.S. tour dates. Though the orchestra had a delayed arrival from Ithaca, Solzhenitsyn was at Richardson Auditorium here, checking out the podium situation for a rare conducting appearance in the area without Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia (which he headed for 12 years, ending in 2010)
NEWS
September 13, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though Philadelphia Orchestra music directors have long had a teaching relationship with the Curtis Institute of Music, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been formally appointed to inaugurate a four-year conducting program that's described more in terms of mentoring than teaching. "I have become the musician and conductor that I am today because of every teacher I have had, and it is with this in mind that I look forward to becoming the first mentor conductor at Curtis," Nézet-Séguin said in a statement released this week.
NEWS
August 18, 2013 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Kwong Kwong Ma, 85, of Lafayette Hill, a noted pianist and teacher, died Monday, Aug. 5, at Chestnut Hill Hospital, of acute respiratory failure. Born in Shanghai, China, Mrs. Ma lived in New York and Ohio. She moved to the Philadelphia suburbs four years ago to be near family and took up residence at the Hill at Whitemarsh, a retirement community. Mrs. Ma came from a family of musicians. Her mother, Zoen Yien Wong, was one of the first Chinese graduates of Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 14, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
MONTREAL - Few operas are as daunting and intoxicating for performers and audiences as Wagner's. So is it any wonder that conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin compared his first full foray into that world as a coming-of-age moment? "There's not another context in which I'd rather lose my Wagner virginity," he declared before Sunday's concert version of Lohengrin at Festival Lanaudière, held annually in the countryside north of Montreal. Though a standard at the world's large opera houses, Lohengrin is seldom heard elsewhere; this was its Quebec premiere.
NEWS
June 29, 2013 | By Susan Snyder, Inquirer Staff Writer
When a third-year doctoral student in chemistry confided that she planned to quit school in favor of her first love - the cello - Hai-Lung Dai advised her against it. "If you pursue music, you have to be at the very top to really support your interest," Dai, then chair of the chemistry department at the University of Pennsylvania, recalled telling the young woman, one of his best students. Finish the degree and pursue music on the side, he told her. That's what he did, and he couldn't be happier.
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