August 25, 2014 |
The empty nest is vastly overrated. Turns out, teenagers, especially when they are yours, are rather fun to have around, and far better conversationalists than toddlers. They make a joyful racket. I was dreading the moment when our daughter, our younger child, left for college. I made a list of choices. Travel more. Upend life. Acquire dog. The dog, it appears, will have to wait. After quite a few years and a couple of thousand bylines, this is my final column for The Inquirer.
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 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.
August 3, 2014
ISSUE | GAZA Priorities are clear It is painful to watch the loss of civilian lives in the Gaza fortress that Hamas built in and under homes, schools, and hospitals, just as it is painful to see selective outrage over death and destruction that is but a fraction of the carnage in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. The effort that Israel has made to minimize the loss of civilian lives is unique in the annals of warfare, while Hamas has poured billions in aid and many tons of concrete into the ground to build bunkers, rocket-launching sites, and 80-foot-deep tunnels that have only one purpose - to facilitate attacks on Israel.
July 30, 2014 |
It used to be we would go to the orchestra to avoid commercialism. Now, audiences are paying good money to be pitched to. Playing excerpts from the scores of Pixar films on two nights in Verizon Hall last week, the Philadelphia Orchestra set aside its charge of letting the public in on something interesting, overlooked, or artistically important. Instead, the ensemble played for two hours beneath a screen showing clips from Toy Story ( 1 , 2 and 3 ), Monsters Inc ., Cars ( 1 and 2 )
July 29, 2014
Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia, formerly the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia, a public/private partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the City of Philadelphia, has named Thomas Jennings , a partner at Hill Wallack L.L.P., Yardley, chairman. He replaces John W. Goldschmidt Jr. , a partner at Ference & Associates L.L.C., who will remain on the executive committee. Other directors include: Christopher S. D'Angelo , partner at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhodes L.L.P., Philadelphia; Michael A. Schwartz , partner at Pepper Hamilton L.L.P., Philadelphia; and Gabriella Vacca, vice president, system engineering, at Comcast Corp., Philadelphia.
July 25, 2014 |
Though Philadelphia seems not to lack classical music concerts or educational opportunities for young artists, Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Hu came home to her Academy House apartment one recent summer, wanted to hear live music, and discovered there wasn't any. "I had just come back from my own festival in Taipei," she said. "People were so excited about it, and I thought, 'Why not do something similar here?' " Now, in these sweaty late-July weeks, the festival she founded, the Philadelphia Young Pianist Academy, is in its second year and occupies the Curtis Institute's Field Concert Hall with a series of five concerts Saturday through Aug. 2. They are the most prominent manifestations of an intensive program of master classes and lectures.
July 22, 2014 |
The first thing to know about composer and pianist Uri Caine is that he started young in the Philadelphia jazz scene, learning from masters like saxophonists Bootsie Barnes and the late Grover Washington Jr. Caine, now 58, went on to develop modernist classical chops and do daring reinterpretations of classical works from Wagner, Beethoven, and Bach, becoming almost a genre unto himself. The world premiere of Caine's The Passion of Octavius Catto on Saturday night at the Mann Center was in some ways a summary of the composer's eclectic career as well as a celebration of an epic life.
July 16, 2014 |
Jazz pianist/composer Uri Caine's many years gone from his native Philadelphia are melting away, into a kind of music he wasn't taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and in places his colleagues don't typically navigate. His The Passion of Octavius Catto , a jazz/gospel oratorio about the martyred Philadelphia civil rights leader, will have its world premiere Saturday at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. It is being rehearsed at the historic St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in what's called in hip-hop circles "the O-Zone" (Olney)
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.