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ENTERTAINMENT
April 29, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
Now that the Barnes Foundation has left its ancestral home, the award for most cloistered leading arts group in our city might belong to the Academy of Vocal Arts. Several decades of creating bespoke environments for experiencing art have not touched AVA's tiny theater - a cramped railway car-proportioned space of bourbon-colored walls, Arcadian murals and a grand hearth. It's paradoxical that AVA prepares opera students for the real world by having them perform in a venue unlike any other they will ever encounter.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 28, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
CAMDEN - A large, blue package with one of the largest bows in the history of gift-giving sat in the Symphony in C box office Saturday, containing a recording of every concert departing music director Rossen Milanov has conducted over the last 15 years with this orchestra. One major performance was, of course, missing: his Saturday farewell at the Gordon Theater with Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 , which was, unsentimentally speaking, one of his best with this postgraduate ensemble. In his preperformance speech, Milanov spoke of growing up in front of the New Jersey public with the freedom to experiment - though he smartly took into account a conservative public that doesn't hear as many concerts as its counterpart across the river.
NEWS
April 19, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
What does it mean that the Philadelphia Orchestra is now stocking its subscription series with lighter works it once used to draw crowds to the Mann Center and as musical primers at children's concerts? French conductor Stéphane Denève is here for two weeks of populist programming that began Thursday night in the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall with a reprise of a Peter and the Wolf film the orchestra brought to the Mann in 2007. The hall was filled with plenty of grown-ups and a scattering of children who, by their general level of happy buzz, indicated approval.
NEWS
April 12, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
I never know whether to laugh or scream when someone tells me that it was obviously a great concert because the musicians looked so happy. No one on stage looked particularly cheerful Friday afternoon after Paul Goodwin led Beethoven's Overture, "The Consecration of the House" with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Some of the musicians, in fact, looked downright put out. And yet, so terrific was Goodwin's sweep and detailing in the piece that it was a revelation. Musicians are sometimes the last to know how they sound.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 4, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
As eternal as Bach's St. Matthew Passion seems, it changes significantly over time, accommodating each new generation's artistic relationship with the music - and then some. What unfolded at Verizon Hall on Wednesday bore surface resemblance to the St. Matthew Passion Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted with the Philadelphia Orchestra two years ago, with some of the same soloists and a similar stage setup, a cruciform platform creating a runway that divided the orchestra. Yet the experience was much more evolved, building on 2013 and perhaps emboldened by the trend toward externalizing Bach's drama with physical action.
NEWS
March 29, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
After the bold individualism in his Philadelphia Orchestra program last weekend, conductor Gianandrea Noseda's Mahler Symphony No. 5 Thursday night arrived with high expectations. Audiences come to this piece loaded for bear, spiritually speaking. Its "Adagietto" is nothing if not classical music's great inspirational altarpiece. Noseda, though, was doggedly earthbound (his eyes often score-bound). His was a rather objective view. He passed over chances for wrenching moments of transition in the first movement, and led the "Adagietto" with momentum held in higher esteem than spiritualism.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 25, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though choice of soloists is often an important component of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia's sense of alternative symphonic experiences, previously unknown guest conducting talents can feel like an even more welcoming ambush. Sunday's headliner at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater ostensibly was Sean Chen, a young pianist who has placed well in competitions (the Van Cliburn, for one) and is a nominee for a 2015 Leonore Annenberg arts fellowship award at Penn. But the concert started with Haydn's little-known overture to the opera Armida , conducted by the lesser-known Nir Kabaretti with a solidity not heard consistently since Ignat Solzhenitsyn's departure and, more than that, a distinctive, glistening personality.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 24, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
If, in the classical realm, technical mastery long ago became the norm, and if, more recently, greatness is as easily accessed as a YouTube search, what do we hope to glean from the live concert experience? Why go at all? A smart curatorial hand assembling the weekend's artists and repertoire at the Philadelphia Orchestra affirmed the value of surprise. Saturday night in Verizon Hall could not have looked more unassuming on paper: a long-established violinist in a warhorse. But Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg made Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor into such a complete personal statement it left the impression it might never happen again (Sunday's repeat performance, broadcast live on WRTI-FM, came close)
NEWS
March 19, 2015 | By Walter F. Naedele, Inquirer Staff Writer
A memorial service and concert have been set to honor former Philadelphia Orchestra principal cellist William Stokking, 81, of Medford. The service is to be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 401 Kings Highway N., Cherry Hill. The concert is to be at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Field Concert Hall of the Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust St. His wife, Nancy, said both events are open to the public. Mr. Stokking, who retired from the orchestra in 2005, died Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, at a Moorestown nursing home of complications from a stroke.
NEWS
March 15, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Beethoven and Falla. Only one conductor would dare to pair such radically dissimilar composers with the Philadelphia Orchestra: the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Planned by him before his death last year, the program on Thursday fell to the orchestra's conductor in residence, Cristian Macelaru. He is as strong-minded as anyone standing before the orchestra this season and, overall, made the evening work in a manner hugely different from Frühbeck de Burgos'. Beethoven was represented by his least severe orchestral work, the Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral")
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