August 15, 2010
Berenice E. Miner, 92, of Burlington Township, a longtime music director at St. Paul's United Methodist Church who helped preserve much of the church's history, died of congestive heart failure and pneumonia Wednesday, Aug. 11, at the Masonic Home of New Jersey in Burlington. Shortly after graduating from Frankford High School in the 1930s, Mrs. Miner studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and became a master of the organ and piano. In the early 1950s, she was the organist at various area churches, but in 1959 settled in as director of music ministries at St. Paul's.
July 26, 2010 |
Staging student opera productions might be more perilous than fielding excellent Phillies teams year after year. Lots of turnover. But in a 2000 review, Inquirer critic David Patrick Stearns saw a winning team. "Temple University Opera Theater's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream [the Benjamin Britten adaptation of the Shakespeare play] arrived . . . with such well-defined concepts that student singers of all levels were swept along . . . "Meanwhile, conductor John Douglas found such musical purpose in virtually every bar of the score - it really was a revelation . . . " Mr. Douglas, 54, of Elkins Park, music director and conductor of opera theater at Temple University since 1989, died of melanoma on Monday, July 12, at Abington Hospice in Warminster.
April 18, 2010 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra's Asian tour promises an intimate visit with knowing, loyal fans in Japan, the potential for new friends in South Korea, and high visibility in China. But this time, it also comes as a three-week reminder of everything that's at stake for the institution. Will the new Philadelphia Orchestra still embrace all of Asia, Europe, and South America - not to mention Ann Arbor and Tucson - as its rightful audience, or settle for a more regional presence? Can it recapture its ranking as one of the world's top orchestral ensembles?
March 30, 2010 |
When the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra began looking to chase away institutional malaise more than 15 years ago, it turned to a Curtis Institute of Music student who happened to be the son of one of the most influential political writers of the 20th century. Ignat Solzhenitsyn was still studying piano and conducting at Curtis when Marc Mostovoy began folding him into the ensemble Mostovoy had founded in 1964. After a succession of junior titles, Solzhenitsyn became principal conductor in 1994 and music director in 2004.
February 21, 2010 |
Even before the public learned that the sword of bankruptcy hung over the Philadelphia Orchestra, an obviously pained fan called me to offer his thinking on why attendance was suffering. When the orchestra was still in the Academy of Music, you could go backstage after a concert and talk to the players. It made him feel connected, he explained. Now, in Verizon Hall, the orchestra does not let the public backstage, and he feels spurned. A "housewife from Wilmington" said the orchestra used to e-mail her regularly with messages about coming concerts.
January 21, 2010 |
B. William Hildenbrand III, 66, of Jenkintown, a music director and borough councilman, died of lung cancer Friday at Keystone Hospice in Wyndmoor. Mr. Hildenbrand was a Jenkintown councilman from 1994 to 2000. He was again elected in 2007 and served until becoming ill last year. For 33 years, he directed church music programs, including at Eddington Presbyterian Church in Bensalem; Scottsville United Methodist Church in Langhorne; and, since 1984, Jenkintown United Methodist Church.
December 20, 2009 |
The many candidates have been heard, their qualities weighed and debated. Yet the Philadelphia Orchestra today isn't much closer to naming a music director than it was in 2006 when it confirmed that it would part with German conductor Christoph Eschenbach. But as the search wends through another year and as the need for a musical authority figure grows more urgent, at least three possible paths are emerging. Some orchestra leaders say it's time to offer Charles Dutoit, the group's 73-year-old chief conductor, the full responsibilities and title of music director as it continues to look for a younger conductor to take over.
November 17, 2009 |
Pianist/conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn is moving on after 16 years conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia - though not entirely: With yesterday's announcement that Dirk Bross? will succeed him as music director came the news that Solzhenitsyn, as conductor laureate, will lead one program a season. Both appointments are for four years, beginning with the 2010-11 season. The announcement came after months of speculation about the 37-year-old Solzhenitsyn: A Philadelphia presence for 18 years starting with his time at the Curtis Institute of Music (from which he graduated in 1995)
October 24, 2009 |
Any conductor out to make a splash isn't likely to program pieces that more or less play themselves, such as Rossini's Barber of Seville overture and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 ("Italian"). Yet that's just what Daniele Gatti did in his first Philadelphia Orchestra visit since 1993. Maybe he didn't realize when the program was devised that the orchestra was looking for a music director. Maybe he's just so single-minded in his musical zeal that splash-making doesn't occur to him. Nonetheless, Gatti's Thursday outing with the orchestra, which he topped off with Brahms' Symphony No. 1, left little doubt: He's a contender, one with more age (47)
October 5, 2009 |
Shostakovich's 1943 Symphony No. 8 is one in a handful of works that fathom the trauma of the 20th century with a boldness and originality so fearless that it's not often performed around here. However compelling Symphony in C's performance was on Saturday in Rutgers University-Camden's Gordon Theater, it went far to explain why: Once the steep musical challenges are met, you're entering a World War II-era abyss that not everyone (players or audience) can or will inhabit. Full of gargantuan war-inspired orchestral effects that prompt a visceral response from any alert musician, the symphony also requires a kind of life experience that the conservatory-age Symphony in C musicians can't be expected to have.