April 24, 2009 |
LATE LAST year, our colleague Gary Thompson writes, Paramount and DreamWorks were positioning "The Soloist" as an Oscar contender, and scheduling it for a November release. Then the plug was pulled, and Paramount instead put its muscle behind "Revolutionary Road" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a gambit that didn't pay off in awards, and didn't do "The Soloist" any favors. Trade papers were full of scuttlebutt about the studios' dissatisfaction with the picture, featuring Robert Downey Jr. as a newspaper columnist (former Inky writer Steve Lopez)
April 23, 2009 |
Newspapers have a new BFF, and it's the movies. We looked pretty good in "State of Play" defending the people's right to know, and in "The Soloist" we're at our best again, shining a light in the darker corners of civic life. Of course, one of the things illuminated in "The Soloist" is our own poor health - the movie is in part a tribute to the worth and struggles of our industry. (I think Hollywood sees itself in our plight, as it has its own problems competing with free content.
April 19, 2009 |
So there's Jamie Foxx, in ragtag yellow and magenta, standing on a Los Angeles sidewalk, talking to Robert Downey Jr. The scene cuts up and away from the actors to a glimpse of blue, to a jetliner in a soaring arc above the skyscrapers. "Are you flying that plane?" says Fox's Nathaniel Ayers. "No, I'm right here," says Downey's Steve Lopez. And there, in The Soloist, the $60 million DreamWorks/Paramount adaptation of the best-selling book inspired by a series of newspaper columns, is the Hollywood version of a pivotal moment in the real Steve Lopez's life.
March 6, 2009
Marigrace Bucher Komarnicki, 75, a soloist at Narberth Presbyterian Church for 40 years, died of cancer Feb. 27 at her Radnor home. Mrs. Komarnicki grew up in Mount Joy, Lancaster County. She graduated from high school there in 1951 and from Elizabethtown College in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in education. Mrs. Komarnicki taught kindergarten through second grade in the Manheim school system from 1955 to 1958 before moving to California and teaching the same grades in Upland and Long Beach, her daughter Kristyn Blancon said.
February 23, 2009 |
Som was a loan officer in another life. Today, he's homeless, and he understands why. "Paranoid schizophrenic," he said. "Do you know what that means? You believe in your thoughts. Mine are all against the government. " Som - who gave his age, 42, but not his last name - used to encamp on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, until police took away his blankets and threatened to arrest him for trespassing. Now he sleeps in a city drop-in shelter at Eighth and Arch Streets. A worker gave him a book about a mentally ill homeless man in Los Angeles helped by a newspaper columnist.
February 6, 2009 |
It may not be sunny in Philly, but wherever the Philadelphia Orchestra goes on its current tour of the Canary Islands and Europe, rain stops, snow melts and clouds part. The sun shines figuratively as well. Ticket sales for the three-week, 14-concert tour of the Canary Islands, Iberia and Central Europe so far have been excellent. Although other U.S. orchestras are forgoing overseas tours (and lack of sponsorship forced Philadelphia to cancel this summer's round of European festivals)
November 6, 2008 |
The concerto soloist is capable of playing more notes than what is humanly possible. Named Bart 42, the violin has two bows, played simultaneously at hyperspeed from commands emanating from a laptop computer. The instrument's frenetic bowing can divide a given second into 100 partial seconds. It snowballs into an unimaginable mass of electronic sound - while also interacting with the 100 percent human Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. "It's a really unique palette. The quality is dramatic.
October 25, 2008 |
What a fun concert. The Philadelphia Orchestra's concerto soloist Thursday was David Kim, celebrating his 10th anniversary as concertmaster (and obviously excited about it), with guest conductor Rafael Fr?hbeck de Burgos, who always has a welcome mat in my psyche, given how much his cogent, coloristically rich manner applies to music he does better than anybody (Falla) as well as to less-characteristic repertoire in need of his strengths (Schumann's Symphony No. 3). At the outset, the program didn't seem like something that would compete so successfully against Thursday's World Series game (Verizon Hall had hardly any empty seats)
September 21, 2008 |
John Pennink, 78, a retired concert pianist, died of a heart attack Aug. 31 at his home in Huntingdon Valley. Mr. Pennink survived World War II as a teenager hiding with his family in Indonesia. Mr. Pennink, who studied music in The Hague and Paris, ceased performing 20 years ago. His last solo concert was in the late 1970s at the University of Pennsylvania, his son Mark said, though "in the mid-'80s there were some benefit concerts . . . on the property at his house. " Mr. Pennink's father was a Dutch colonial official who died in a concentration camp after the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.
December 1, 2007 |
Near the end of Paradise and the Peri, where the Persian-fairy title character finally wins entry to heaven, the music grows so expansive and ecstatic it really leaves you no choice but to join in the victory and convert. But to what? Islam? Christianity? The most sensible choice is probably neither, since to feel full immersion in Schumann's masterwork you need to be nothing less highly evolved than a dedicated aesthete. Thursday's performance of the piece by Simon Rattle and the Philadelphia Orchestra - a first time for both - unveiled a rarity whose startling, febrile score and flowery text might have spoken to the sensibilities of an earlier era, but whose aesthetic, it turns out, may be more apt for our times.