December 1, 2012 |
Virginia Halfmann's violin was just one voice among many, but her "monster" talent, colleagues said, contributed mightily to Eugene Ormandy's Philadelphia Sound. The violinist, 68, died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure, nephew John Halfmann said. Ms. Halfmann was hired by Ormandy in 1972 and retired from the second violin section in 2010. A gruff exterior belied a kind soul, friends said. "She was a real character, to say the least, a wonderful character," said Louis Lanza, Ms. Halfmann's stand partner in the orchestra for more than a decade.
November 26, 2012 |
Had most guest conductors foreseen this Thanksgiving would arrive in the wake of a hurricane, a contentious election, and the orchestra's bankruptcy, the Philadelphia Orchestra's annual holiday weekend concerts would have been more solemn, maybe with Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration . As it was, the ebullient Stéphane Denève turned out to be what was needed at the Kimmel Center concerts (I heard Friday's), in a medium-to-lightweight program probably devised a year ago that showed the orchestra at its luminous best: Debussy's Images , followed by the vernacular-fueled high spirits of Poulenc's Les Biches and Gershwin's An American in Paris.
November 17, 2012 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra was performing the score of Alexander Nevsky live as the film screened long before visual add-ons became the imperative of the orchestra experience they are today. The current performances in Verizon Hall are, in fact, the third coincidence at the orchestra of Prokofiev's music and Eisenstein's film (the others were in 1988 and 1997). What was so striking Thursday night about the combination was imagining what would have been lost in a recorded-soundtrack iteration.
November 13, 2012 |
Henry Kerr Williams, 97, an educator and composer who founded the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra in Bucks County, died Friday, Nov. 9, at Brittany Pointe Estates, a retirement community in Lansdale. In 1954, the Delaware Valley Philharmonic introduced its first season with Mr. Williams as the music director and conductor. He conducted the orchestra until the early 1970s. Mr. Williams "created a gem," wrote board president Don George in a tribute published in The Inquirer for the orchestra's 50th anniversary season.
November 10, 2012 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra is having another of its Leopold Stokowski awareness weeks, in which you never know if you're going to encounter the vision, the eccentricity, or the datedness of the great conductor who laid the foundation for what the institution is today. Guest conductor Emmanuel Krivine was game Friday for reproducing a characteristically top-heavy Stokowski program from the mid-1930s: Franck's weighty Symphony in D minor on the first half, with flashy Poulenc and Bach on the second - the reverse of how concerts are built in our time - all in various manifestations of D minor.
November 3, 2012 |
Dance wends its way through the four pieces on the Philadelphia Orchestra's present program led by Giancarlo Guerrero - bolero, the Charleston, and Martha Graham. No actual dancers appear, but movement and stories are left behind - as in an elegant reading of Appalachian Spring , the 1945 version of the piece Copland first called Ballet for Martha . Thursday night in Verizon Hall, the winds (flutist David Cramer, oboist Peter Smith, clarinetist Ricardo Morales) were vehicles of sincerity and simplicity.
October 29, 2012 |
Aidan Milligan didn't get to blow his own horn Saturday afternoon - he blew a Philadelphia Orchestra musician's trombone instead. Aidan, a 9-year-old special-needs student whose trombone was taken from outside his Drexel Hill home three weeks ago - and later returned after his story got national media attention - watched the orchestra's first Family Concert of the season with his family at the Kimmel Center. Then he headed backstage. "This is my trombone; I heard you got yours back," bass trombonist Blair Bollinger said, handing him the instrument.
October 28, 2012 |
Music of the Americas, with its refreshing lack of foreignness, is easy to take for granted. No mental reaching across oceans, centuries, or time zones is needed to make contact with this music. It's our stuff. So it must be easy. That's why Leonard Bernstein's Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion , one of the most distinctive concertos of the 20th century, is so often performed badly, and why the Peruvian fusion represented by Gabriela Lena Frank's new Concertino Cusqueño - both were played Thursday by the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center - was barely thinkable a few decades ago. The two pieces stood together beautifully, partly because they both bring certain European composers over here.
October 22, 2012 |
Of the Philadelphia Orchestra's eight music directors in 112 years, none has arrived with the vessel-of-hope urgency that accompanies Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Bankruptcy and several years of organizational chaos have cast doubt on the orchestra as a going concern, and its public image has taken a beating. "Beautiful but beleaguered," wrote the New Yorker in advance of the orchestra's Carnegie Hall concert this week. "Can These Philadelphians Be Fabulous Again?" asked the Wall Street Journal.