March 13, 2016 |
Always mighty, often amazing, the Mahler Symphony No. 8 unfolded Thursday with somewhat less than the supposed thousand musicians for whom the piece was ideally conceived. But you wouldn't have wanted more than the Philadelphia Orchestra's 420 singers and instrumentalists, who made as much sound as the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall could hold. The first of four sold-out performances that promised to be (and were) the season's highlight, the event commemorated the 100th anniversary of the orchestra's U.S. premiere of the Mahler 8th under Leopold Stokowski.
March 7, 2016
Vincent Fraley is communications manager for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania As the Philadelphia Orchestra tunes up for this week's performances of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 , consider the story of the man who introduced the orchestra to the world: Leopold Stokowski. Born in London to a Polish carpenter father and an Irish mother, Stokowski (1882-1977) studied at Britain's Royal College of Music and Queen's College, Oxford, before working as an organist and choirmaster.
February 15, 2016
The term Philadelphia Sound conjures for many the lush arrangements and piercing horns of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff tunes from the 1970s. For fans of classical music, however, the silky strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra define the city's namesake sound. Consider the story of the man who did much to perfect it: Eugene Ormandy. Born Jeno Blau in Budapest, Ormandy (1899-1985) was given a tiny fiddle at age 3. Two years later, he enrolled as a violinist in the Hungarian capital's Royal State Academy of Music before becoming its youngest graduate, at age 14. Ormandy arrived in the United States in 1921, lured by the prospect of a $30,000 concert tour.
January 25, 2016
Beth Kephart is the author of 20 books, including "LOVE: A Philadelphia Affair" More than 20 years after its grand opening in 1857, the Academy of Music, that audacious "Grand Old Lady of Locust Street," was still and yet inspiring breathless prose. It was, according to my favorite Philadelphia history book, A Century After (1876), built of "dark brick and stone in the Italianized Byzantine style," had a "delicious nursing quality for the voice," and "was not only big, but abundantly decorated and furnished; there was nothing barn-like in its huge dimensions; the upholstery and walls, of a judicious shade of crimson, relieved the white-and-gold rainbows of the successive tiers.
October 4, 2015 |
So the Rachmaninoff concerto recordings continue with the Philadelphia Orchestra after all. With the wildfire acclaim for the orchestra's collaboration with pianist Daniil Trifonov in Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (just released on Deutsche Grammophon), a follow-up this week with the same forces and same composer's Piano Concerto No. 4 seemed planned, with four concerts to record Thursday through Sunday at the Kimmel Center. When questioned, the recording company was vague.
September 11, 2015 |
HELEN KEMP was internationally known as a specialist in teaching children to sing, but in later years she discovered the pleasures of teaching singing to seniors. She trained children and their teachers in the art of choral singing for more than seven decades. When she went to a retirement home in Doylestown, she organized retirees into a chorus that was highly acclaimed. Helen Hubbert Kemp, a lyric soprano who sang with some of the leading orchestras of her day, a former faculty member of the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., and a composer of more than 35 anthems, died Aug. 23. She was 97 and lived in Jamison, Bucks County.
April 3, 2015 |
Joseph Koch Koplin, 75, of Center City, a gifted musician and tax accountant, died Friday, March 27, of complications from prostate cancer at his home. Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Koplin was a child prodigy on the trumpet. At age 10, he performed solos on Paul Whiteman's Goodyear Revue, a TV variety show. At 11, he played for the Philadelphia Orchestra at children's concerts. Later, he studied and played at musical festivals worldwide. He graduated from the University of Rochester in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in music, and while there, he played first trumpet in the Rochester Philharmonic and assistant first trumpet in the Eastman Wind Ensemble.
January 25, 2015 |
Yannick Nézet-Séguin celebrated his 1,500th concert since his 1994 debut with a Philadelphia Orchestra performance that was beyond what audiences have come to expect from him in his three years as music director. "Beyond" didn't always mean "distinguished," but it did in the dominant work on the Thursday concert, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 : Though not for those who prefer lean, straightforward Rachmaninoff, the performance's fusion of passion, insight, great playing and Philadelphia sound fused into something that easily deserved the rock-star reception from the Kimmel Center audience, in the second week of the St. Petersburg Festival.
November 8, 2014 |
The concerto portion of any Philadelphia Orchestra program tends to be blessedly predictable. Not this week. Three different organ concertos are scheduled on successive days through Saturday - not small amiable specimens by Handel, but large modern works, only two of three calling themselves concertos. First up was Joseph Jongen's 1927 Symphonie Concertante , a work written for the Wanamaker organ down the street at Macy's but not performed there until 2008. The difference at the Kimmel Center on Thursday was that you could actually hear this ambitious four-movement piece - in contrast to the wildly reverberant acoustic at Macy's.
October 6, 2014 |
Gone is the sprawling complex of buildings where the recording industry took root and made history in downtown Camden more than a century ago. The lone reminder of the city's crucial role in the early music business is the Victor apartment building with its iconic Nipper tower and stained-glass images of the dog listening to "his master's voice. " Phonograph recordings by the Victor Talking Machine Co. once captured the voice of opera singer Enrico Caruso and performances by classical musicians such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and orchestras conducted by Leopold Stokowski and Arturo Toscanini.