June 18, 2013 |
The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral was darkened and the the Crossing choir was positioned in a circle, facing inward, with sound seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere. But even a healthy sense of trepidation had no place at Saturday's opening of the group's annual Month of Moderns festival, in which artistic director Donald Nally unveiled his latest stunning Baltic discovery, Chu dal by Latvian composer Santa Ratniece. Spiritually oriented texts, long disdained under communism, are often a route to blazing originality among Baltic composers; this piece meditates on bodies of water high (Mongolia's Namtso Lake)
June 3, 2013 |
They came to Philadelphia from Oakland, Calif.; Lawrence, Kan.; Durham, N.C.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Washington; and elsewhere. Why? "The Roots," Ryan Loecker, 19, of Lawrence, said with a grin. "We came all the way from Kansas. " He was among the few thousand people who gathered Saturday at the Festival Pier at Penn's Landing to see the Philadelphia hip-hop/soul band perform as part of the sixth annual Roots Picnic, beginning the summer music season in the city. The festival was held a day after the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program dedicated a mural to the band on the north side of South Street west of Broad Street.
May 31, 2013 |
SHANGHAI - After 14 hours in the tiny seats of a trans-global flight, the Philadelphia Orchestra musicians might question the reasons for performing so far from home, so regularly, in what is becoming an annual springtime visit to China. It's tough. The 6-foot-4 cellist Richard Harlow seemed to spend as much time stretching his legs in the aisle as he did sitting. Another cellist, Robert Cafaro, could only tune out the packed-to-the-gills flight by sleeping in his sunglasses as the plane traveled past Greenland, over the northern ice cap and south, high above Russian cities most people hadn't heard of. But once on the ground in Shanghai, cameras flashed, TV crews came in for close-ups, and large bouquets of roses greeted the nine musicians who were part of the original 1973 debut, when the Philadelphia Orchestra was the first American ensemble to play in the People's Republic of China since the Maoist revolution.
March 26, 2013 |
If you're going to write a concerto inspired by the majesty of the Mississippi River, one appropriate voice would have to be the deep, otherworldly tuba - so often heard in everyday orchestral life but rarely in solos. Or did the tuba idea come first and the river second? Whatever the motivation, Michael Daugherty's Reflections on the Mississippi was a charmer at its world premiere by Philadelphia Orchestra's Carol Jantsch and the Temple University Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, in the ensemble's annual Kimmel Center concert.
March 14, 2013 |
Curtis Chamber Orchestra is hitting the road with its customary vigor and intelligence, though its program - performed Monday at the Kimmel Center, subsequently in Washington and New York - was a this-and-that calling card perhaps aimed more at establishing the Curtis Institute identity than at making a cohesive artistic statement. The exterior conceit in this concert, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, was a musical meeting ground between two starry Curtis graduates from different generations, violinists Jennifer Koh (2002)
March 10, 2013
Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca reports as of midweek from the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. See his blog dispatches at www.philly.com/inthemix
March 2, 2013 |
Whether a recitalist, concerto soloist, or member of the Johannes Quartet, violinist Soovin Kim has been one of Philadelphia's more consistent and welcome classical music guests for at least 15 years. But in his recital Wednesday with pianist Natalie Zhu, familiarity hardly meant you knew what he'd do next. The unforced gentility of his playing, prompting comparisons with Arthur Grumiaux in years past, was apparent in the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the American Philosophical Society - though not in Ravel's usually charming, suave Violin Sonata . That was reimagined as a semi-modernist companion to Webern.
January 27, 2013 |
As economic recovery hovers in midair while deciding whether to advance, arts groups aren't taking many chances. Risk happens, but only when heavily subsidized. In recent decades' implicit tug of war between what the audience wanted and where arts groups hoped they could lead public taste, the public has won. A look across a broad range of concerts this spring reveals decidedly popular programming. And yet, while La Boheme opened the season of the Opera Company of Philadelphia and The Magic Flute comes later, you might not recognize the titles of the company's other three productions, all in basically contemporary musical idioms.
December 4, 2012 |
The "Cage: Beyond Silence" festival - under way at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other venues throughout the city since late October - has moved into its second phase of concerts, concentrating on John Cage's 1970, 90-piece Song Books collection. That collection has to do much less with the typical medium of song than with the many open-ended ways Cage released the music he felt was hidden everywhere. You could count on a committed Cage experience from Ne(x)tworks, the New York sextet headed by new-music doyenne (and vocalist)
May 7, 2012 |
When Wolfgang Sawallisch was winding up his Philadelphia Orchestra tenure, some of his concert programs became curiously modest. Remember Richard Strauss' 45-minute wind band piece, The Happy Workshop? In contrast, Charles Dutoit is veering toward the gargantuan in his last three subscription concerts as chief conductor. His Strauss choice is the opera Elektra later this week. And on Friday, he poured on waves of sound in Scriabin's unapologetically extravagant Poem of Ecstasy with the Verizon Hall organ powering the climaxes from within.