January 3, 2014 |
CHICAGO has a branded, hometown-oriented jazz orchestra. Cleveland and Pittsburgh, too. So why doesn't our town - far richer than most in jazz history, heroes and students - have a rootin', tootin' Philadelphia-labeled ensemble to celebrate our riches, from the hey-days of Coltrane, Gillespie and Getz to the newest kids on the blocks? Come Tuesday, at long last, we will, as the 17-member, brass-heavy Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP) makes its debut in gala (and hopefully fundraising)
December 25, 2013 |
Even in the most congenial cities, making your way to a Christmas concert can be an ordeal. With distracted shoppers, motorist gridlock, and people feeling neglected and lashing out at random, concerts have an extra medicinal responsibility to be all they can be. The Philadelphia Orchestra's annual Messiah definitely qualified this year, so much so that it's a shame that Sunday's performance at the Kimmel Center wasn't repeated. The Philadelphia Singers Chorale is guaranteed to deliver an exalted "Hallelujah Chorus," but one didn't anticipate associate conductor Cristian Macelaru being such a resourceful Handelian (now considered a specialty)
December 17, 2013 |
During the Philadelphia Orchestra 2013 tour of China, associate conductor Cristian Macelaru was asked to take over a rehearsal, and from almost the first notes, the sound palpably changed into something more robust and dark hued. In Friday's Verizon Hall concert, that sound was even more pronounced when Macelaru filled in for canceled guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado. Not everything in the concert was the work of a finished, mature conductor: In Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole , tempo changes were puzzling.
December 3, 2013 |
The all-time record for a long-awaited Philadelphia Orchestra debut by a major composer may well be held by Henry Purcell. Though his opera Dido and Aeneas surfaces periodically, the baroque composer's 1692 The Fairy Queen was heard for the first time here on Friday with an added distinction: None of the musicians had ever played Purcell at all. They had a resourceful tour guide in Richard Egarr, the British harpsichordist who led the...
November 10, 2013 |
Pianist Yuja Wang was pretty much canonized by her Kimmel Center audience Thursday, and perhaps not for typical reasons of hot fingers and charismatic glamour. In a promising collaboration with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Wang scaled the pianistic Everest that is Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with a sense of ease that took the music to a particular place that it can rarely go. Having heard Wang grow up before my very ears at the Curtis Institute, I'm convinced she is basically a chamber-music pianist - with a mastery of the keyboard that allows her to bring the same flowing conversational quality to the Rachmaninoff concerto that she had in Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 10. In Rachmaninoff, the conversation was a high-level one between her and any given phrase, duly transmitted to the audience without the slightest pretense or Scriabinesque neuroses.
November 6, 2013 |
Mayor Nutter, in the midst of a trade mission to the United Kingdom and Israel, announced Monday that the Philadelphia Orchestra will tour Europe in 2015. The orchestra will conclude its tour with two performances in London, Nutter said. The mayor called the orchestra "a vital cultural ambassador for the city, and one that brings tremendous economic development to the city by making the case for doing business in Philadelphia. " Nutter pointed out that the orchestra, with music director Eugene Ormandy, toured Britain in 1949, becoming the first orchestra from America to cross the Atlantic after World War II. The ensemble performed 28 concerts in 27 days in England and Scotland.
November 3, 2013 |
Empty seats - not a huge number but more than usual for this season - were to be expected at the Philadelphia Commissions concerts at Verizon Hall. Though this city hosts substantial festivals of John Cage and Morton Feldman, more mainstream audiences didn't break down the Kimmel Center doors Thursday for the Philadelphia Orchestra's three new concertos featured in this week's concerts, even though Tan Dun's piece was a multimedia crowd-pleaser and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances with such a compelling Russian accent that it, alone, was worth the concert.
November 1, 2013 |
One thing about Once : It's not the movie. It's the international touring show budded off from the Broadway show budded off, in turn, from the movie. Starring Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech musician Markéta Irglová, Once was a dark-horse smash in 2007, earning two Grammys and an Oscar. Persuasive, passionate, it's a busker's love story. But Once in Philadelphia (Academy of Music, through Nov. 10) is different. Sure, it has the guitar-playing Guy and the pianist Girl, plus Hansard and Irglová's poignant songs.
October 31, 2013 |
THIS WEEKEND, the Philadelphia Orchestra premieres three newly commissioned works, each composed specifically for one of its principal players. These renowned soloists, who can't ask Mozart or Brahms for advice on how to play their music, had the unique chance to be collaborators. Each creative process was different, yet all three composers were inspired both by ancient traditions and by our orchestra's legendary sound. We asked the creators and artists to share their thoughts on the collaborations.
October 30, 2013 |
With three video screens, the full Philadelphia Orchestra, and harp soloist Elizabeth Hainen to keep track of in Verizon Hall, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin might need a GPS to know where to turn next. The occasion is Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp and Orchestra , by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Besides documenting a 1,000-year-old language that women sing only to one another in remote parts of China, the piece is also "a kind of art installation," says the Oscar-winning composer of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon , "because my screen is also a Chinese scroll painting.