February 23, 2012 |
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - The first two cars were packed as usual for the morning rush, so tightly that people stood pressed flesh to flesh, sandwiched between bicycles and the few seats, many without so much as a strap to hold on to. This train didn't lurch, though. It had trouble stopping at all, overshooting platform after platform and missing at least one station entirely as it rushed toward the end of the line. The train didn't come to a halt until it had slammed into a metal barrier at Buenos Aires' Once station.
February 11, 2012 |
Charles Dutoit always has been a canny curator, but deep significance seems to lie beneath his repertoire choices between now and the last of his days in Philadelphia. Thursday night you could sense his mind at work in programming Frank Martin's relatively obscure Concerto for Seven Winds, Percussion and String Orchestra . The piece was championed by fellow Swiss Ernest Ansermet, an early guiding light for Dutoit. Marrying those sympathies with the Philadelphia Orchestra's saturated strings and highly polished winds would seem to unleash all sorts of synergies.
January 31, 2012 |
Philadelphia Orchestra executives came to the Wells Fargo Center recently to see the orchestra perform the national anthem on the big screen. In an effort to provide class, and improve the overall fan experience, the 76ers' new CEO, Adam Aron, hired the orchestra to record the anthem. The video will be played at every home game. I was hanging with Aron that day, met the orchestra execs, and told them I had seen the Brahms Requiem . This really shocked them. I was impersonating a sports reporter, after all. Shows you how stereotypes run deep in both directions.
January 21, 2012 |
In an age that seems perpetually restless, where silence for some is an unnatural state of being, everyone deserves to experience the peace that arrived Thursday night in the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 . Nothing in the evening's beginning pointed to such a lovely destination. The recorded announcement reminded Verizon Hall patrons to silence their electronic pacifiers. Philadelphia Orchestra guest conductor Herbert Blomstedt mounted the podium, and a cushion of quiet gathered around him. In the split second before the downbeat, a Latin-beat cellphone ring broke the moment.
January 19, 2012 |
Call it the Wolfgang Sawallisch effect. At age 84, conductor Herbert Blomstedt has conducted throughout Europe and the United States with inspired solidity for a half century. And, like Sawallisch in his final Philadelphia years, the professorial Blomstedt isn't fading into old-age mellowness; instead, he has acquired forceful intensity. The Philadelphia Orchestra is the latest topflight ensemble to have Blomstedt as an honored guest, in a career marked by serial music directorships from Dresden to San Francisco to Leipzig.
December 3, 2011 |
Classical warhorse repertoire needs to be programmed with the utmost care so as not to wind up in the glue factory - Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 ("New World") being a case in point. Though hardly the composer's best (that distinction falls to Symphony No. 7 ), the second-movement tune made it the victim of its own product placement in any number of commercials and films. Will we ever hear it with fresh ears? The Philadelphia Orchestra's guest conductor, Marin Alsop, gave the piece an optimum platform Thursday at the Kimmel Center by placing it alongside its grandchildren.
November 13, 2011 |
The knighthood, the vast discography stretching from Monteverdi to Brahms, and the acclaim that has come with it are all tangible evidence that Sir John Eliot Gardiner, 68, is a pervasive presence throughout the European and American classical music world. Why, then, is he only now making his Philadelphia debut on a tour with his period-instrument ensemble, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique? Why has he never been asked to guest-conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra? If ever there has been an alternative conducting career, it's his. "Think of conductors of my generation, Zubin Mehta, and musicians such as Pinchy Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman.
October 27, 2011 |
A lawyer for Delaware County says she was thrown beneath a moving SEPTA train Monday when it pulled out of the Eddystone station before she had fully gotten off. Patricia Biswanger, 55, of Bryn Mawr, said two cars of the train passed over her as she lay in the gravel train bed between the platform and the rails. "It was terrifying. All I'm thinking is, 'What is it going to feel like when this train hits me? When is the pain going to start?' " Biswanger said Wednesday. Biswanger called a friend, Francie Howat, the Eddystone borough manager, who notified local police.
October 26, 2011 |
An attorney for Delaware County says she was thrown beneath a moving SEPTA train on Monday when the train pulled out of the Eddystone station before she had fully disembarked. Patricia Biswanger, 55, of Bryn Mawr, said two cars of the train passed over her as she lay in the gravel trainbed between the platform and the rails. "It was terrifying. All I'm thinking is, 'what is it going to feel like when this train hits me? When is the pain going to start?'" Biswanger said Wednesday.
August 28, 2011 |
LUCERNE, Switzerland - Though ducking an earthquake and a hurricane back home, the Philadelphia Orchestra faced 103-degree heat Friday in Vienna, Austria, then touched down in Switzerland on Saturday only hours after a late-summer blizzard whitened the mountains outside this postcard-perfect city. Yet no distractions kept the ensemble from eliciting unreservedly raucous cheers from the packed hall at the orchestrally rich Lucerne Festival - partly because chief conductor Charles Dutoit had the bells of his dreams.