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NEWS
March 13, 2016 | By Peter Dobrin, Music Critic
'The only reason Barber gets away with elementary musical methods is that his heart is pure," Virgil Thomson wrote after the 1941 New York premiere of Samuel Barber's widely adored Violin Concerto . Of pure hearts there could be no doubt in the case of three composers bringing relatively new works to the Kimmel's Perelman Theater on Thursday night. The concert - a joint effort by Symphony in C, Astral Artists, and lead funder Presser Foundation - was billed as "Beyond Barber.
NEWS
March 13, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
March 9, 2016 | By Peter Dobrin, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
WILMINGTON - At any given time between October and May, it's a safe bet that any number of major international orchestras are coming through Philadelphia, only to see the city through an Amtrak widow. Of course, we don't see them at all. More important, we don't hear them - not since the Kimmel Center decided a few years ago that its visiting orchestra series was a luxury the city could not afford. In April, for instance, both the San Francisco Symphony and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra play New York and D.C., and they will miss hitting one particularly great orchestra town in between.
NEWS
March 7, 2016 | By Peter Dobrin, Music Critic
If there was something strongly reassuring about Saturday morning's Philadelphia Orchestra family concert, it came in a certain lack of bells and whistles - and puppets. New York troupe Puppet Kitchen was originally billed for the Verizon Hall concert featuring Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra . But puppets were felled by the orchestra's budget ax earlier this season. How well such visuals would have worked with sound can't be known, of course. It might have been genius.
NEWS
March 6, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
Pianist Hélène Grimaud kept Philadelphia waiting for her Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 . She was scheduled to perform it here in 2014, but music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin had to cancel for health reasons - so, wishing to save Piano Concerto No. 2 for him, she switched at that time to an older friend, the Piano Concerto No. 1 . When the moment of truth arrived on Thursday, you understood Grimaud's history of ambivalence with this...
NEWS
March 4, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
The Philadelphia Orchestra has seen many firsts, but few could have imagined this one. In June 2017, the well-traveled ensemble will touch down at Genghis Khan International Airport in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar for concerts that may well be attended by nomads on horseback. "Or in Jaguars and Cadillacs," said Bulgaa Altangerel, the Mongolian ambassador to the United States. Such is 21st-century Mongolia, whose urban population constitutes one of the fastest-growing Asian economies.
NEWS
March 4, 2016 | By Peter Dobrin, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
It would be difficult to overstate the power of one particular moment in the trajectory of many a young musician. It typically comes after a few years in a school ensemble where the players around you are struggling for the notes. One day you audition for an ensemble of equals. You get in. When the downbeat falls for the first time, you are surrounded by a certain sound - a real ensemble sound. Just a few bars into the music, you know what it means to be part of the orchestra world. Precisely how many musicians left the stage of Verizon Hall on Tuesday night with that sensation permanently nestled in their emotional memory boxes would be hard to say. But Philadelphia's All City Orchestra - and band and chorus - no doubt serves that function for dozens, if not hundreds.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 3, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia threw open the door to its future on Monday. It was one of the more wide-reaching programs in its recent history - and it had music director Dirk Brosse's fingerprints all over it. The previous administration limited Brosse to standard classical repertoire. Now, he mixes lesser-known works by Gustav Holst, Bela Bartók, Ernest Bloch, Malcolm Arnold, Max Richter, and Philip Glass - many of them trafficking in the film-score world, much like Brosse - all leading up to music from the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho . Fascinating, all, and played in ways that showed minor works aren't necessarily minor experiences.
NEWS
February 28, 2016
The Promise of Music . Philadelphia's long-standing All City Orchestra program has an improvisatory feeling at the moment, as leaders try out new programs and try on new partners. The high school ensemble, a distillation of city talent formed through auditions, now has the Philadelphia Orchestra as its "lead artistic partner," and for the group's Friday concert, Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will stop by to lead part of the program. The concert includes works for three ensembles alone - All City Orchestra, band, and choir.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 27, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has been morphing from a standard-repertoire ensemble into something that widely embraces the 21st century. One manifestation of that is a series of Intersect concerts at World Cafe Live curated, hosted, and otherwise dominated by charismatic singer/songwriter Andrew Lipke. At the second of those concerts Wednesday, Lipke was aided by a quartet drawn from the Chamber Orchestra. Though rarely seen without a guitar, Lipke has passionate insights into many things classical.
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