April 8, 2016 |
"How do we use music to increase quality of life for people in challenging situations?" Daniel Berkowitz, the Philadelphia Orchestra's director of collaborative learning, asks the question, and says the orchestra is increasing the number of ways music can answer the call. The group is instituting a new social-impact program, increasing others, and packaging them under an umbrella acronym: HEAR, which stands for health, education, access, and research. Under the heading of health, the orchestra is sending its musicians into Broad Street Ministry as music therapists to work with victims of trauma.
April 6, 2016 |
Although a well-established 20th-century masterwork, Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta is a special-occasion piece in the United States - and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is not a likely party to be creating the occasion. The piece is a tall order that would seem to require full orchestra. You could have guessed conductor laureate Ignat Solzhenitsyn was behind Sunday's performance: He's the kind of serious musician who will take on something this formidable and get the rehearsal time to pull it off. His chamber music appearances here mean he's never away for long, but Solzhenitsyn emerges as a key part of the Chamber Orchestra's season, maintaining a classical foundation as music director Dirk Brosse explores populist realms.
April 3, 2016 |
Not long ago, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra's leadership wrote me with an insight. In talking to musicians after concerts, he had gleaned that interpretation came from the musicians themselves, and not the conductor - and in fact the orchestra was able to play brilliantly without any podium guidance at all. The idea that a conductor could stand in front of an orchestra and have little or no impact seemed especially fanciful Thursday night...
March 23, 2016 |
Anyone interested in the future of new music in the city might have paid close attention to Timothy Weiss' dates last weekend with Orchestra 2001. The ensemble's search for a new artistic leader hasn't exactly gone as planned - snow prevented one candidate's appearance, and another withdrew - but Weiss reminded listeners this was less a search for conducting competence than for taste. It's safe to consider Sunday night's program at Christ Church Neighborhood House an expression of Weiss' interest in a particular aesthetic.
March 20, 2016
On March 11, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) hosted a gala dinner and concert while also celebrating its 76th season. Held at the Union League in Philadelphia, more than 170 attendees showed their support at an evening that began with a reception, art show, and sale followed by dinner in the Grand Ballroom and a concert in the Lincoln Room. Guests were treated to performances by the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Bravo Brass, and Tune Up Philly, with students ranging in age from 6 to 21. A dessert reception and return to the art show and sale at Studio Incamminati rounded out the evening.
March 20, 2016 |
Never a polite purveyor of antique music, Dutch keyboardist/conductor Ton Koopman immediately let Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 off its leash in his Philadelphia Orchestra debut Thursday. It was a performance with more prominent timpani than I've previously encountered, and it set the tone for a concert that could be recklessly exuberant, and even blithely imprecise. Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra have long been an antidote to more severe Dutch early-music specialists who stripped away the accumulated traditions of the more recent past but put too little personality in its place.
March 17, 2016 |
Surgery for Nézet-Séguin Sunday afternoon, he conducted Mahler 's Symphony No. 8 in Verizon Hall, and on Monday, Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin was at Penn Medicine for surgery. The conductor, suffering from an epigastric hernia, underwent outpatient surgery, orchestra rep Katherine Blodgett said. Blodgett said she did not know whether the surgery had been scheduled or was necessitated by a sudden condition. After a three- to four-week recovery, Nézet-Séguin is expected to be back on the podium here starting April 8. He has canceled a March 20 appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic.
March 13, 2016 |
'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.
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 9, 2016 |
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.