November 4, 2010 |
The big picture couldn't have looked more wonderful at the outset of Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem Tuesday at the Kimmel Center, where the piece was heard in a rare collaboration between the Dresden Staatskapelle, under Daniel Harding, and the Westminster Symphonic Choir of New Jersey's Westminster Choir College. Most often, you hear the piece performed by amateur choirs and pickup orchestras, not groups this beloved in their respective fields. Sometimes, though, the more defined a group's personality, the less easy the collaboration.
October 5, 2010 |
PRINCETON - Great Tchaikovsky playing, an East Coast premiere by a major composer and an A-list soloist wouldn't be taken for granted in a major city. But here? Where people usually spend autumn weekends shopping and escaping urban overstimulation? The Princeton Symphony Orchestra's season-opening concert Sunday at sold-out Richardson Auditorium delivered a hugely promising manifesto under new music director Rossen Milanov, so much that even those who think they know his music profile from his years as associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (which will end in 2011)
May 25, 2010 |
Though Samuel Barber's music was long considered a glorious postscript to a bygone era, his sweet-and-sour lyricism was the frequent starting point at Orchestra 2001's season finale last weekend. The particularly substantial 2 1/2-hour program - well prepared under conductor James Freeman - had two full concertos (both new to Philadelphia) and a new vocal work. Barber was represented only by his Knoxville: Summer of 1915, but his presence was pervasive. The irony award goes to Andrew Rudin, whose Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra wasn't misnamed, but implied a modesty of means not borne out by this 40-minute work that covered too much musical territory for its own good - some of it not worth visiting.
May 1, 2010 |
Throngs of screaming young girls appeared to be giving the Philadelphia Orchestra a teenyboppers' farewell as the Japanese leg of the 2010 Tour of Asia came to a close. The minute the orchestra's buses pulled up at Tokyo Haneda International Airport for the flight to Seoul, the screaming began - and then abruptly stopped. The orchestra, as it turned out, was not the object of the crowd's Thursday-morning vigil. Some hot Korean movie star was due to alight there, and his fans were too preoccupied with his arrival to utter his name intelligibly.
January 9, 2010 |
It's startling to realize how much a single orchestral player can lift up everything going on around him or her, and no arrival has been better for the ensemble health of the Philadelphia Orchestra than that, in 2003, of Ricardo Morales. The principal clarinetist, in fact, may represent the most salutary personnel event of the orchestra's last decade. An ensemble player, however, does not a soloist make. The skills of the two jobs are not merely distinct, they're at opposite ends of the individuality spectrum.
January 3, 2010 |
William Murphy, 74, an educator and a singer whom Eugene Ormandy called "Philadelphia's greatest bass-baritone," died of cancer Dec. 24 at Willow Valley Manor in Lancaster. In the early 1960s, Mr. Murphy seemed destined for international opera stardom. He studied voice in New York with famed instructor Beverly Johnson and received rave reviews for his Papageno in the Washington National Opera's production of The Magic Flute. He worked with Igor Stravinsky and recorded two works with the composer, Renard and The Nightingale.
December 4, 2009 |
From the days of Bach, Mozart and Haydn, all the way to the more recent Shostakovich and Jarvi offspring, composing and performing music has often been a family affair. The legacy continues for George Theophilus Walker, a major American composer whose intense music deserves much more attention. Next week, the Philadelphia Orchestra will present the world premiere of his Violin Concerto, written for his talented son Gregory Walker, who performs as soloist. Walker, now 87 and a resident of Montclair, N.J., was the first African-American to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1945, with diplomas in both piano and composition.
July 31, 2009 |
Classical music is a world of specialists within specialists, and one divide that's hard to bridge is the one from ensemble member to soloist. Orchestras ask players to do it all the time - that is, they pluck section players for concertos. Some Philadelphia Orchestra members have concerto appearances written into their contracts, and when they do step into the spotlight, performances can sometimes sound forced. But others, like violinist Juliette Kang Wednesday night, give you the feeling they've spent years thinking about a piece.
June 25, 2009 |
The Curtis Institute of Music's fast track to big-orchestra debuts turns into an express lane at the Monday opening of the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer season. Six students, some quite young, will be featured in three of the orchestra's concerts at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Fourteen-year-old violinist Yu-Chien Tseng, for example, plays Vivaldi's The Four Seasons without having experienced some of what's depicted in the music - like the "Autumn" concerto's portrait of an inebriated peasant.