January 16, 2015 |
On a subfreezing night with an untested concert format, is it any surprise that the Philadelphia Orchestra's first LiveNote Night, designed to attract new audiences to classical music, was preaching to the semi-converted on Wednesday at the Kimmel Center? The event represented a confluence of past seasons' "Beyond the Score" concerts (earlier, shorter, instructively oriented) and the pop-up performance scheduled spontaneously in 2013 when the orchestra's Carnegie Hall date was canceled by a stagehands strike.
January 14, 2015 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra last toured Europe in 2011 in deeply uncertain circumstances: The orchestra was still in bankruptcy and entering contract negotiations amid fears about the future. Yannick Nézet-Séguin had been appointed, but would not become music director until the next year. The orchestra was led by chief conductor Charles Dutoit. In contrast, the 2015 Tour of Europe, announced Tuesday, promises to be a consolidation of more successful times for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and under the leadership of Nézet-Séguin, already a well-known figure there.
December 22, 2014 |
William Stokking, 81, retired principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and former faculty member of the Curtis Institute, died Sunday, Dec. 14, at a Moorestown nursing home of complications from a stroke. Esteemed for his refined tone, Mr. Stokking joined the orchestra in 1960 and played for six years under Eugene Ormandy before departing to play as principal with the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia. Upon the chamber group's demise, he played for the Boston Philharmonic and as principal with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell before returning to the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1973.
December 7, 2014 |
French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras might have initially looked like a rerun: He played Haydn's mid-weight Cello Concerto in C in 2008 with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, even though an artist of his stature warrants a rather more grand musical platform. Or so it seemed until he actually played, reprising the concerto Thursday with the Philadelphia Orchestra. One of Europe's top cellists, Queyras makes this infrequent U.S. appearance on the heels of a memorable collaboration abroad with music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who wanted to repeat the experience for Philadelphia.
December 2, 2014 |
It was Pied Piper night at the Philadelphia Orchestra. The audience Friday at Verizon Hall gladly would have followed clarinetist Ricardo Morales out the doors and to any destination he proposed. Morales, principal clarinet since 2003, explored shadings of his instrument's eloquence in Debussy's Premiere Rhapsodie and brought the audience to its feet with the cascades of notes and theatrical flourishes that characterize Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations . Although the sheer jubilance and charm of the Rossini evoked that ovation, it was in the subtle and thoughtful Debussy piece that a range of the soloist's gifts could be savored.
November 27, 2014 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform a free concert Tuesday at the Kimmel Center as part of the nationwide GivingTuesday campaign that seeks charitable contributions. Seating is general admission, and tickets may be reserved beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, at www.philorch.org . There will be holiday music in Commonwealth Plaza starting at 6 p.m., with opportunities to conduct the players. The Verizon Hall doors open at 7, and the 75-minute concert begins at 7:30. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the ensemble in seasonal favorites from Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, and Brahms, plus works by Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon and others.
November 16, 2014 |
The fashion world has long popularized clothes that appear to be turned inside out. Why shouldn't the Philadelphia Orchestra do its own version of that every so often? How could that work? Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 was so significantly reimagined by guest conductor Jakub Hruša that you'd think the prevailing, mellifluous tradition of Wolfgang Sawallisch never existed. The music was a rougher ride but full of incident. Orchestral sonorities that are normally string-dominated shared the sound picture more equally with brass and winds.
November 12, 2014 |
Ah, that's more like it. The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia found its autumn-season legs, a little late, in a program featuring the orchestra's brilliant principal violist, Ayane Kozasa, and a surprise from music director Dirk Brossé - not the usual bonbon, but an Arvo Pärt piece that was the best thing on the program, and possibly one of the season's highlights. The Japanese-born, Curtis Institute-educated Kozasa may not be a revelation to juries of the competitions she has won, but she was new to this listener, having been deterred from her December 2013 Astral Artists recital by one of many blizzards.
November 11, 2014 |
China's global economic expansion has been slow to include a matching rise in cultural institutions among its exports, but Friday brought a major step toward changing that when a youthful orchestra from Beijing played an internationally televised concert at the Kimmel Center. The concert by the NCPA Orchestra had special resonance here, because the Philadelphia Orchestra played in 1973 in a nation that had once put its musicians in coal mines and closed universities and conservatories but was cautiously peering over its cultural wall.
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.