May 7, 2016 |
Somehow the words love fest don't cover it. Wednesday's one-night-only concert of John Williams film music by the Philadelphia Orchestra as part of its two-week Williams celebration was bound to be good box office, with an audience exuding good will accumulated from the many popular Stephen Spielberg films that he has scored. But what unfolded at the Kimmel Center was beyond what could have been anticipated. Planned to be two hours long, it went an for an extra half hour, with three encores led by the composer himself, who shared the conducting podium with Stéphane Denève, prompting some of the longest and loudest ovations I've heard at the Kimmel Center.
May 2, 2016 |
Though The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! was mediocre, that 1966 film's title perfectly reflected America's Cold War hysteria. We were convinced the Russians were coming. That's why the period gave rise to duck-and-cover, bomb shelters, and the widespread use of anxiety medication. Personally, all that anti-Soviet mania was so terrifying that I had persistent nightmares about communist invaders pouring through the gap between two neighboring homes on Carlton Drive and laying siege to our split-level.
May 1, 2016 |
At the start of Pictures from an Exhibition Thursday night in Verizon Hall, conductor Stéphane Denève gave the downbeat, and trumpeter David Bilger sat with the instrument silent in his lap while the strings played instead. Anyone who knows this piece, and nearly everyone does, knows this is not the way things usually go. But this was a topsy-turvy Philadelphia Orchestra concert, studded with elements of delight that drew a roar of approval from the sold-out crowd of a decibel level that's rare.
April 18, 2016 |
Will a seismic movement on the podium of the Metropolitan Opera have reverberations in Philadelphia? Yannick Nézet-Séguin, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has been frequently seen as a prime candidate to succeed James Levine, whose shift to music director emeritus after a four-decade tenure was announced Thursday in New York by the Met. But apart from whether the Met actually offers the job to Nézet-Séguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra...
April 13, 2016 |
Nine artists, including two from Philadelphia, plus a Curtis Institute of Music graduate, have been announced as recipients of grants from the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts. The fund awards $50,000 a year for up to two years to help beginning-career artists across the arts. The two Philadelphians are violinist Robyn Bollinger and actor Miriam A. Hyman. The Curtis graduate is bass-baritone Brandon Cedel of Charleston, S.C. Bollinger, daughter of Philadelphia Orchestra trombonist Blair Bollinger, made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut at age 12. She is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music.
April 13, 2016 |
Marcel Farago, 92, a Philadelphia Orchestra cellist from 1955 to 1994, died Friday, April 8, in Cherry Hill. Born in Romania, he was also a composer of numerous works, several of which were performed by the orchestra. Mr. Farago reportedly suffered from cancer but chose not to discuss it, and gave an interview packed with keen observations and lively wit only weeks before his death. He proudly stated that he was born in Timisoara, near the birthplace of the great Hungarian composer Bela Bartok.
April 8, 2016 |
"How do we use music to increase quality of life for people in challenging situations?" Daniel Berkowitz, the Philadelphia Orchestra's director of collaborative learning, asks the question, and says the orchestra is increasing the number of ways music can answer the call. The group is instituting a new social-impact program, increasing others, and packaging them under an umbrella acronym: HEAR, which stands for health, education, access, and research. Under the heading of health, the orchestra is sending its musicians into Broad Street Ministry as music therapists to work with victims of trauma.
April 6, 2016
An article Monday on the city's lobbying costs incorrectly stated the amount Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. lobbyist Aaron Cohen is paid. His firm receives $90,000 a year. In Monday's Business section, "At the Convention Centers" listed an incorrect date for Philly I-Day. The educational networking event for insurance and risk-management professionals will take place April 28 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. A March 27 story about violinist Francesca dePasquale mischaracterized the positions held by her father, the violinist William de Pasquale, with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
April 6, 2016 |
Although a well-established 20th-century masterwork, Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta is a special-occasion piece in the United States - and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is not a likely party to be creating the occasion. The piece is a tall order that would seem to require full orchestra. You could have guessed conductor laureate Ignat Solzhenitsyn was behind Sunday's performance: He's the kind of serious musician who will take on something this formidable and get the rehearsal time to pull it off. His chamber music appearances here mean he's never away for long, but Solzhenitsyn emerges as a key part of the Chamber Orchestra's season, maintaining a classical foundation as music director Dirk Brosse explores populist realms.
April 3, 2016 |
Not long ago, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra's leadership wrote me with an insight. In talking to musicians after concerts, he had gleaned that interpretation came from the musicians themselves, and not the conductor - and in fact the orchestra was able to play brilliantly without any podium guidance at all. The idea that a conductor could stand in front of an orchestra and have little or no impact seemed especially fanciful Thursday night...