September 18, 2014 |
Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral") is usually about as safe as concert programming can be. Yet when the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia decided to opened its 50th season with Beethoven's celebration of nature and weather Monday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, it took one of the bigger chances of its recent history. Audiences here aren't used to hearing that music played by 35 or so players. But then, music director (and composer) Sir Dirk Brossé (newly knighted in his native Belgium)
September 10, 2014 |
Throughout much of Macy's department store in Center City, "20 percent off" signs added to the celebratory air of Symphony in C's concert on Saturday night, scheduled immediately after closing time, in yet another of its mountain-comes-to-Muhammad collaborations with the fabled Wanamaker organ. Known as one of the biggest and grandest working instruments of its kind, the Wanamaker organ is mostly heard as a musical world unto itself in noontime concerts that range from classical to show tunes.
August 24, 2014 |
The first Philadelphia Orchestra principal player to be hired during the tenure of music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is an old friend of the orchestra. Israeli-born Nitzan Haroz will return to his former chair as principal trombonist effective immediately, the orchestra announced Thursday, four months after he won the audition. Haroz, 45, first came to the orchestra in the Wolfgang Sawallisch era, holding the principal spot from 1995 to 2012, then leaving to become principal of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for two years.
August 23, 2014 |
Six months. That's how much time Bob Rosen figured he had left. The Yardley accountant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, typically a rapidly spreading form of the disease. The doctors advised surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Rosen, 71, began getting his affairs in order. He talked with his son Eric, who would have the responsibility of disbursing his father's $160,000 in charitable donations after Rosen passed away. His father's generous gesture would be executed under heartbreaking circumstances; Eric Rosen dreaded the day. He told his father he had a better thought: Why wait?
August 6, 2014 |
Symphony orchestra as jukebox? Such was the idea behind the Philadelphia Orchestra's People's Choice concert on Friday at the Mann Center. Some 16 possibilities posted on radio station WRTI-FM's website were subject to open voting, which yielded a good medium-weight concert of Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Smetana - all classical music greatest hits that, with any luck, gave the audience an increased sense of ownership. Philosophically, it's a fine idea. But having such a concert more than once a year might not be healthy.
July 1, 2014 |
With his Noel Coward-esque wit and solid command of the Philadelphia Orchestra, guest conductor Bramwell Tovey is always a delight to encounter in special, not-entirely-classical occasions that could easily fall apart under a lesser personality. But on Friday at the Mann Center, Tovey conducted music that didn't require (or receive) his usual witty introductions: Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 . It can be as problematic as it is great, yet here was thoroughly accomplished, with excitement arising from a strong musical foundation, cultivated opinions on how the music should go, and a keen ability to make that happen.
June 25, 2014 |
THERE MAY BE some grumbling in the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra tonight, Ben Folds anticipates, when the sophisticated singer-songwriter/pianist, professorial talent judge ("The Sing-Off") and fledgling concerto composer meets up with our legendary symphony. "The Ben Folds Orchestral Experience" at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts will feature excerpts from Folds' new (first!) concerto, a big bunch of his pop gems - and one of the best and most serious backup bands in the world.
June 9, 2014 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra is not what it used to be. And that's excellent news. The faces haven't changed much but the touring demeanor has, from that of the ensemble that walked on water during European summer festivals past to the 2014 version that does whatever it must to manage the wide-reaching, 2 1/2-week tour of Asia that ended Thursday in Taipei, Taiwan. The orchestra's leadership has been rewriting the rules, negotiating China dates themselves in ways that cultivate new sponsors and could net an estimated $1 million-plus.
June 6, 2014 |
William Cain could only look longingly out the window of his Willow Grove home. After brain surgery in January to remove a large blood clot, the 62-year-old band director was resigned to a two-month home recovery. During that time, he could not drive; help his wife, Debbie, shovel snow; or - most important for the enthusiastic musician - teach at Wissahickon Middle School. Five months later, as an elated Cain accepted the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Ovation Award, he thought back to those two empty months, in disbelief at how far he had come.
June 4, 2014 |
TOKYO - The adventures in China were all certainly exciting for the Philadelphia Orchestra, but Tokyo's acoustically superb Suntory Hall is an old friend, where many of its best recordings with Wolfgang Sawallisch were made, and during this current tour, it comes near the end, when most residency activities are over. The orchestra arrived Sunday for "the icing on the cake," as music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin describes it. Familiar haunts for the musicians here include the Tokyo Tower Records, a bastion of compact-disc culture, loaded with Philadelphia Orchestra reissues not found anywhere else in an entire floor devoted to classical music.