March 6, 2016 |
Pianist Hélène Grimaud kept Philadelphia waiting for her Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 . She was scheduled to perform it here in 2014, but music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin had to cancel for health reasons - so, wishing to save Piano Concerto No. 2 for him, she switched at that time to an older friend, the Piano Concerto No. 1 . When the moment of truth arrived on Thursday, you understood Grimaud's history of ambivalence with this...
March 4, 2016 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra has seen many firsts, but few could have imagined this one. In June 2017, the well-traveled ensemble will touch down at Genghis Khan International Airport in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar for concerts that may well be attended by nomads on horseback. "Or in Jaguars and Cadillacs," said Bulgaa Altangerel, the Mongolian ambassador to the United States. Such is 21st-century Mongolia, whose urban population constitutes one of the fastest-growing Asian economies.
March 4, 2016 |
It would be difficult to overstate the power of one particular moment in the trajectory of many a young musician. It typically comes after a few years in a school ensemble where the players around you are struggling for the notes. One day you audition for an ensemble of equals. You get in. When the downbeat falls for the first time, you are surrounded by a certain sound - a real ensemble sound. Just a few bars into the music, you know what it means to be part of the orchestra world. Precisely how many musicians left the stage of Verizon Hall on Tuesday night with that sensation permanently nestled in their emotional memory boxes would be hard to say. But Philadelphia's All City Orchestra - and band and chorus - no doubt serves that function for dozens, if not hundreds.
March 3, 2016 |
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia threw open the door to its future on Monday. It was one of the more wide-reaching programs in its recent history - and it had music director Dirk Brosse's fingerprints all over it. The previous administration limited Brosse to standard classical repertoire. Now, he mixes lesser-known works by Gustav Holst, Bela Bartók, Ernest Bloch, Malcolm Arnold, Max Richter, and Philip Glass - many of them trafficking in the film-score world, much like Brosse - all leading up to music from the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho . Fascinating, all, and played in ways that showed minor works aren't necessarily minor experiences.
February 28, 2016
The Promise of Music . Philadelphia's long-standing All City Orchestra program has an improvisatory feeling at the moment, as leaders try out new programs and try on new partners. The high school ensemble, a distillation of city talent formed through auditions, now has the Philadelphia Orchestra as its "lead artistic partner," and for the group's Friday concert, Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will stop by to lead part of the program. The concert includes works for three ensembles alone - All City Orchestra, band, and choir.
February 27, 2016 |
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has been morphing from a standard-repertoire ensemble into something that widely embraces the 21st century. One manifestation of that is a series of Intersect concerts at World Cafe Live curated, hosted, and otherwise dominated by charismatic singer/songwriter Andrew Lipke. At the second of those concerts Wednesday, Lipke was aided by a quartet drawn from the Chamber Orchestra. Though rarely seen without a guitar, Lipke has passionate insights into many things classical.
February 24, 2016 |
Expectations turned upside down at the debut concert of First Editions Chamber Orchestra, newly formed by James Freeman, the man who retired from Orchestra 2001 after 27 years, but who hardly seems through with the new-music business. Premieres by Cynthia Folio and Heidi Jacobs were on Sunday's concert in Lang Concert Hall at Swarthmore College (repeated Friday in Roberts Hall at Haverford College). But another part of the ensemble's mandate is performing early Mozart. That can be mistaken for a charming act of niche shopping.
February 21, 2016 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra had it just about right months ago, when it started billing James Levine as legendary. The conductor seems destined to retain that status, though he may be more mythical than legendary in these parts after canceling his first dates with the orchestra in two decades. His replacement Thursday night at Verizon Hall could not have represented a more different approach to the job of conductor. If Levine uses a less-is-more stick technique that nonetheless produces outsize results, Michael Tilson Thomas hopped, crouched, and deployed his lanky frame to elicit sounds the orchestra might have produced without such visual prompts.
February 14, 2016 |
Can Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (the "Emperor") possibly have anything new to report from within its familiar folds of opulent pianism and orchestral tranquillity? There's more there, it turns out, than the mere prettiness that has made the piece the one concerto to know if you're going to know only one concerto. Leading the Philadelphia Orchestra Thursday night in Verizon Hall, Vladimir Jurowski deployed a wondrous paradox. He reduced the size of the ensemble and paid scrupulous attention to limiting the length of notes.
February 14, 2016
Levine cancels; Tilson Thomas in Eminent conductor James Levine was to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra in a gala program Thursday to next Saturday. But Levine, battling Parkinson's disease, canceled Friday. The orchestra will still play, directed by conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas . Information: 215-893-1999 or www.philorch.org . Adele: A parent first and foremost Adored Brit singer Adele , whose third studio LP, 25 , has sold just under a bajillion copies, shows off a new look - call it nouveau haute-classique - on the cover of Vogue.