November 13, 2012 |
Henry Kerr Williams, 97, an educator and composer who founded the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra in Bucks County, died Friday, Nov. 9, at Brittany Pointe Estates, a retirement community in Lansdale. In 1954, the Delaware Valley Philharmonic introduced its first season with Mr. Williams as the music director and conductor. He conducted the orchestra until the early 1970s. Mr. Williams "created a gem," wrote board president Don George in a tribute published in The Inquirer for the orchestra's 50th anniversary season.
November 13, 2012 |
Encore Series Inc., presenter of the Philly Pops, has hired a successor to founding music director Peter Nero. Michael Krajewski, 62, who leads pops orchestras in Atlanta, Houston and Jacksonville, will take over in the fall of 2013. Public acknowledgment of the decision was made Tuesday at City Hall by Mayor Nutter, who called Krajewski "one of the world's foremost conductors. " Nutter took the opportunity to tip his hat to Nero - who did not attend the announcement - "for his contribution to the arts.
November 10, 2012 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra is having another of its Leopold Stokowski awareness weeks, in which you never know if you're going to encounter the vision, the eccentricity, or the datedness of the great conductor who laid the foundation for what the institution is today. Guest conductor Emmanuel Krivine was game Friday for reproducing a characteristically top-heavy Stokowski program from the mid-1930s: Franck's weighty Symphony in D minor on the first half, with flashy Poulenc and Bach on the second - the reverse of how concerts are built in our time - all in various manifestations of D minor.
June 29, 2012 |
Perfect weather. A terrific Beethoven 9th by the Philadelphia Orchestra. What more does one need in life? Though any number of the orchestra's season openers at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts have been perfectly pleasant, Wednesday's was one to remember with the debut of Chinese conductor Xian Zhang, who proves that authority need not be contingent on gender, nationality, or physical stature. My limited exposure to the diminutive Zhang, who rose through the ranks of the New York Philharmonic's conducting staff before the increasingly international career that she has now, suggests that she is a fundamentally reflective musician, looking beyond the flashy animal energy of a Tchaikovsky symphony for the entrancing complications underneath.
June 27, 2012 |
At the Mann Center, where rehearsal time for Philadelphia Orchestra concerts sometimes is frustratingly short, evidence of guest conductors' putting a personal imprint on repertoire can be elusive. The challenge multiplies in works so popular that a large percentage of the audience can whistle the start of the development section. Individuality, though, promises to shine through standard repertoire in the first-of-the-summer Mann orchestral concerts. Xian Zhang, the young Chinese American conductor now based in Milan, leads the Philadelphia Orchestra Wednesday night in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D minor.
April 30, 2012
Hugo Fiorato, 97, a former child prodigy who became the conductor of the New York City Ballet and one of its most enduring influences, died last Monday in Boston. His death was confirmed by a stepson, Jonathan Scott. Mr. Fiorato, who was with the City Ballet for 56 years, was a figure of continuity surpassed only by George Balanchine, who founded it in 1948 with Mr. Fiorato's mentor, conductor Leon Barzin. Mr. Fiorato held almost every job the company had to offer, starting as its first concertmaster in 1948.
April 24, 2012 |
If the Curtis Institute is about achieving greatness in various forms, an essential part of that would have to be experiencing the pitfalls that are everywhere in the symphonic repertoire. Nothing dire happened when the Curtis Symphony Orchestra played Jennifer Higdon, Brahms, and Bartok under Robert Spano Monday at the Kimmel Center; the showcase element of the concert was delivered with swaggering confidence. But that doesn't mean any given masterpiece's DNA was located. The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra was most distinctive: Rather than running the movements together as so many conductors do, Spano treated them as discrete entities in ways that reminded you of the music's strangeness, how movements start in mid-thought and end in ways suggesting that there's plenty left to say. Spano pursued a great variety of string sounds.
April 15, 2012 |
Conductors are discovering competition coming up, literally, from behind their backs and over their shoulders. One after another, violinists have claimed music-director positions and guest-conducting engagements in some of the world's better orchestras. Leading from the concertmaster's chair, they don't necessarily hold a baton or reap the glory of their more Bernsteinian colleagues. But they're changing how music is made — and, perhaps, how it's heard. "Each player has enormous responsibility," says violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who is in her fourth season as music director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco.
March 24, 2012 |
For once, James Conlon seemed like a conductor without a cause. No Holocaust composers or underappreciated Zemlinsky masterworks were on his Philadelphia Orchestra program Thursday, just Mozart and Dvorak that had connections with the great city of Prague. Still, the charismatic Conlon revealed himself as an incurable egghead. The real theme of the program was the key of D minor - the one Mozart saved for dread of the supernatural, whether the sea god Poseidon or Don Giovanni's murder victim returning from the dead.
March 7, 2012 |
Any longtime observer of Ignat Solzhenitsyn knows he has two distinct musical personalities depending on whether he's conducting or at the keyboard. Seldom have the differences been so apparent in the same concert - making the conductor laureate's return to the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia Monday at the Kimmel Center a richer-than-usual experience. The double personality isn't unusual. Christoph Eschenbach is a dapper classicist at the keyboard and anything but that when conducting.