November 22, 2015 |
You might assume that the Philadelphia Orchestra today is benefiting from a popular music director, an economic climate greatly improved since the Great Recession, and the good fortune of living cheek to cheek with a growing - and affluent - downtown population. Yet this trio of assets has not been enough to buoy some key measures of the orchestra's health. Board Chairman Richard B. Worley diagnosed the core concern at the Philadelphia Orchestra Association's recent annual meeting: Concert attendance between September and May fell again last season - to 153,000 paid listeners in 2014-15 from 160,000 the season before.
November 17, 2015 |
Dawn, new beginnings, and acts of creation were the theme at the Philadelphia Orchestra's Friday Kimmel Center concert, but the Paris terrorist attacks earlier that day inevitably cast a shadow. Orchestra president Allison Vulgamore made an understated preconcert dedication to the victims. Less fortunately, mid-performance outbursts - the sort usually associated with medical emergencies - came from the composer of the concert's main piece, Hannibal Lokumbe. He shouted encouragement to the orchestra from the first tier during the premiere of his One Land, One River, One People . Dramatized in the allegorical fashion of William Blake, Lokumbe's creation story promised to sit easily beside Sibelius' Finlandia and Copland's Appalachian Spring (both in beautifully prepared performances led by music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin)
November 11, 2015 |
Hannibal Lokumbe calls his new work, "One Land, One River, One People," a "spiritatorio. " Commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, it's less a concert piece than a spiritual explosion - a gumbo of blues, jazz, spirituals and joyful rhythm. Yannick Nezet-Seguin will conduct the work this weekend in a program that will begin with Copland's familiar "Appalachian Spring" and Sibelius' stirring "Finlandia. " "One Land" is scored for soprano Laquita Mitchell and tenor Rodrick Dixon, plus three choirs: the Delaware State University Choir, the Lincoln University Concert Choir and Morgan State University Choir.
November 9, 2015 |
Philadelphia's venerable Print Center is celebrating its centennial anniversary through December with exhibitions, events, programs, and projects on its own premises and elsewhere (it has partnered with more than 40 organizations in Philadelphia and beyond), all of which are listed on its website and in a guidebook available at the Print Center. The best place to start is the Print Center itself. On the first floor, "Highlights in History" documents the center's activities from its beginnings as a club to its current status as a nonprofit organization with an international voice in printmaking and photography.
November 6, 2015 |
British conductor Robin Ticciati goes where the most love is - and Philadelphia is a place to which he returns time and again. Audiences and critics have been hugely receptive to the 32-year-old Ticciati, often spoken of as his generation's Simon Rattle - extroverted talent, corkscrew hair, and ebullient personality. He returns Thursday through Saturday to conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center and looks forward to it. "Just to feel the sound in one's arms is an extraordinary thing," he says.
November 3, 2015 |
You can be fairly sure that classical music is getting the message across when you see a big gray teddy bear hanging over the side of the first tier in Verizon Hall, waving his paws in the air to tunes from Danny Elfman's The Nightmare Before Christmas . The bear wasn't intended to be part of the show at Saturday morning's first of five Philadelphia Orchestra family concerts this season, but of course the orchestra has a future only to the...
November 1, 2015 |
Rebellion - cheerful, languid, or seething - was the underlying theme of Marin Alsop's guest-conducting engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra in ways that skirted some of the more inciting possibilities, but that arrived with blinding clarity in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 . The added subtle twist Thursday at the Kimmel Center was how this Russian music turned a mirror back on American listeners. Written to placate the über-populist Soviet authorities, the symphony displayed meticulous logic, suitable bombast, and common touches, but with many subversive undertones.
October 25, 2015 |
So, what else did they write? That could have been the title of the Philadelphia Orchestra's program Thursday with guest conductor Donald Runnicles. Featuring less-familiar works of Mozart and Brahms, it wasn't the sexiest of concerts, but it was exactly what allows audiences to understand the masterpieces better. The aging Brahms knew his Concerto for Violin Cello and Orchestra Op. 102 was his last big orchestral work. His was a condition that often afflicts senior composers: Coming up with ideas is no problem, but developing them over long spans is tougher.
October 22, 2015 |
On an arctic day in the winter of 1986, a group of local music-scene mahoffs welcomed representatives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Philly with the intention of persuading them to put the hall here. Inexplicably, Cleveland ultimately got the nod (some insiders blamed then-Mayor Wilson Goode's lack of enthusiasm for the project). But there was a positive by-product of that ill-fated, long-ago visit: the Philadelphia Music Alliance. For almost 30 years, the nonprofit PMA has been the guardian and promoter of Philadelphia's illustrious and influential history as a music capital.
October 21, 2015 |
The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, with the Philadelphia Orchestra's Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium, opened its season Sunday at Verizon Hall and revived the question: Why doesn't this ensemble of gifted young players sound like the Philadelphia Orchestra? The question answers itself. While these extraordinary musicians learn style and performance practice from their elders, they inevitably play at contemporary metabolic rates and perceptions. Those change with the speed of life.