April 24, 2016 |
It's OK to show up at a Philadelphia Orchestra concert this season and feel conflicted that big plans never materialized. The Stravinsky Soldier's Tale in a staged version by James Alexander, announced for the current run of concerts, was a victim of this season's budget cuts, and so the program was reworked without actors and dancers. The orchestra's current leadership feels that visuals are a good way to lure more listeners to the sound. Maybe. And though the orchestra has staged The Soldier's Tale before - in an elegant 2006 family-concert production by director Susan Fenichell - it was tantalizing to consider what Alexander (who has staged the St. Matthew Passion here)
November 8, 2015 |
Is it possible to accept in your mind's ear two radically different interpretations of the same work, but both absolutely ideal? To anyone taken with Wolfgang Sawallisch's fatherly warmth, authority, and carefully rationed passions in Schumann, Robin Ticciati's Schumann Symphony No. 4 Thursday night in Verizon Hall must have arrived like a blinding flash on the horizon. For me, even as a longtime Sawallisch adherent, Ticciati's light revealed important contours. Using period-instruments concepts, such as a leaner sound, the 32-year-old British conductor favored very fast tempos and lean textures . Rather, he used these ideas, where applicable, to underscore expressive details that might otherwise go unnoticed.
September 23, 2015 |
Someday, if the current trend continues, technology addicts will skip all this handheld nonsense and just have cellphones implanted directly in their brains. Until then, arts groups will continue looking for ways to integrate technology into the concert experience, like Sunday afternoon's premiere at the Kimmel of a new work for piano, chamber orchestra, and iGadgets. Conrad Tao's An Adjustment , which opened the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia's 51st season, did not succumb to technology for its own sake.
May 20, 2015 |
No commemorative speeches. No plaques. No tear jerking. Artistic director David Hayes barely announced the encore at the farewell concert of the Philadelphia Singers, going out of business after 43 years, but let the occasion speak with music, the best performance coming last - Rachmaninoff's Vespers , the "Rejoice O Virgin" section. Maybe Hayes was focusing his energy, having survived last week's Amtrak derailment in reportedly functional though bruised form, which had him walking on and off stage with care.
March 24, 2015 |
If, in the classical realm, technical mastery long ago became the norm, and if, more recently, greatness is as easily accessed as a YouTube search, what do we hope to glean from the live concert experience? Why go at all? A smart curatorial hand assembling the weekend's artists and repertoire at the Philadelphia Orchestra affirmed the value of surprise. Saturday night in Verizon Hall could not have looked more unassuming on paper: a long-established violinist in a warhorse. But Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg made Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor into such a complete personal statement it left the impression it might never happen again (Sunday's repeat performance, broadcast live on WRTI-FM, came close)
September 29, 2014 |
This year, the Philadelphia Orchestra's official opening night - the one that lets you mingle with the maestro at an "exclusive" reception topping out at $2,500 per ticket - doesn't come until a couple of weeks into the season. Actual music-making, though, began in Verizon Hall on Friday night, with no less a gala soloist than Lang Lang. Many listeners in these parts still think of the pianist as an aberrantly eccentric Curtis Institute of Music student, and, for better or worse, in the last decade and a half of his working with every major orchestra and conductor on earth, absolutely nothing has rubbed off on him musically.
March 26, 2014 |
If any composer can occupy a concert on his own, it should be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Oddly, that didn't quite happen with Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia's Sunday outing at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater with esteemed Swiss guest conductor Matthias Bamert. Bamert's extensive discography includes relatively minor figures with famous last names - Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn - which explains why his program began with the better-known Mozart's teenage Symphony No. 17 , which, unlike many works of his youth, doesn't hold up all that well.
January 22, 2014 |
Once again, the Kimmel Center's Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ emerged from its splendid semi-isolation with revelations at many turns Sunday with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Organ recitals have their audience, but recent collaborations have uncovered important but neglected repertoire and perhaps have expanded the organ audience. In Sunday's program of Handel, Josef Rheinberger, and Joseph Jongen (with four different soloists), the big discovery was Stephen Paulus' 1992 Concerto for Solo Organ, Timpani, and Percussion . It's a terrific piece that would have to rank among the best American organ concertos of the last century, with four hefty movements that strike out in many directions, from elegiac to comic, with equal conviction.
March 19, 2013 |
William J. Ridenhour, 71, of Ambler, a gifted singer of African American spirituals and gospel music, died in his sleep Monday, March 11, at home. He was a heart patient, his family said. Mr. Ridenhour ran his own business, Celebrity Caterers, from home. Dapper and distinguished looking, he liked to move among people and make them feel welcome. He did that with his gift of gab, his cooking, and his singing. "There is a biblical term called 'given to hospitality,' and he was that," said his wife, Ann. "He loved people, and to chitchat.
December 27, 2012 |
Some traditions exist because they're needed. After a long year filled with incident, you could sink into your Verizon Hall seat on Sunday afternoon as fresh-voiced tenor John Tessier began to sing, with excellent diction and soothing tones, "Comfort ye, my people . . . . " It's Handel's Messiah , of course, a piece that could be a year-round classic (Choral Arts Society and Tempesta di Mare will perform it in March) but tends to arrive at the end of the year like a reward. The Philadelphia Orchestra's Sunday performance was historically responsible (the orchestra numbered about 30)