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.
October 27, 2013 |
In his date with the big fish, the title character in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea muses: "Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?" Many a conductor has sketched the title character in Debussy's La Mer mainly as a benign beauty, and there is plenty in the score to support that. But from the opening moments of the piece Thursday night, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, age 80, turned the Philadelphia Orchestra's gaze to a more varied and complex interpretation.
October 23, 2013 |
The most dynamic orchestra in the city emerges each year with a few surprises in its ranks. So it was Sunday afternoon, when the Curtis Institute of Music's fall class of instrumentalists found form as a symphony orchestra in dancerly works of Rachmaninoff, Strauss, and Stravinsky. Tallying individual talent is great sport - a bassoonist who took the opening to The Rite of Spring as if she'd been born and raised on a high wire - and yet there was something more significant at work.
October 20, 2013 |
Crowd-pleasing has its price, especially when one leaves the Philadelphia Orchestra two weeks in a row having experienced many visceral thrills but none that lasts much beyond the Kimmel Center's door. The symphonic world has its share of sound-effects pieces. Chief among them are the tone poems of Ottorino Respighi, a first-class opera composer whose musical portraits of Rome are his best-known pieces and magnificently orchestrated, with nothing very important to say. Nobody is going to make The Pines of Rome , whose suite of musical descriptions includes birdcalls, more buffed and sparkly than did veteran guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos on Thursday at Verizon Hall.
October 13, 2013 |
Normally two islands in a sea of social media, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia have had recent audience triumphs radically revising old notions that Twitter and other social media work only for young millennials. On Oct. 2, the Philadelphia Orchestra played to a full Verizon Hall on six hours' notice, aided by social media, after a prestigious visiting engagement at Carnegie Hall was abruptly canceled. The strategy: Massive contacts via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.
October 8, 2013 |
Though the Philadelphia Orchestra enjoys many blue-sky moments these days, Friday's start to the weekend's subscription series had an especially rosy sense of well-earned arrival. Its impromptu concert Wednesday at Verizon Hall that followed the cancellation of its Carnegie Hall opening was a roaring feel-good public relations success. And then on Friday, the orchestra was doing what it does best, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting Mahler's heaven-bound Symphony No. 4 (with many saints populating the final movement)
October 4, 2013 |
The New Yorkers struck, but the Philadelphians stuck. Stuck to their hometown fans, that is. Unable to perform at Wednesday night's Carnegie Hall season-opening gala after stagehands went on strike, the Philadelphia Orchestra responded with a bold Plan B, putting on an abbreviated concert back home in Verizon Hall. The doors of the Kimmel Center were thrown open Wednesday at 6 p.m. and, to a crowd of about 2,500, the orchestra played a no-intermission 90 minutes of Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Ravel.
October 4, 2013 |
A stagehand strike has forced the cancellation of Carnegie Hall's Wednesday night black-tie gala season-opener, at which the Philadelphia Orchestra was to have been the featured ensemble. The stagehands, represented by Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, were working under a contract that expired Aug. 31, and called a strike at 8 a.m., according to a union statement. "Carnegie Hall sincerely regrets any inconvenience this strike will cause our artists, concertgoers, and everyone with whom we work," said Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic Director of Carnegie Hall.
October 2, 2013 |
NEW YORK - Another "phoenix moment" for the Philadelphia Orchestra? That's how Carnegie Hall's director of artistic planning, Jeremy Geffen, describes the orchestra's arrival Wednesday to open the 2013-14 season in New York City's august concert venue, whose audiences and management cheered the orchestra through its bankruptcy. Slots don't come any more prestigious than opening night. The concert promises guaranteed star power with violinist Joshua Bell and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, now in his second season with the Philadelphians.