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.
October 8, 2007 |
So slowly has it happened in the last decade that it's hard to see how obsequious music groups have grown. For proof, look at the Philadelphia Orchestra, which, facing audience flight, recently revealed that it would be turning to listeners for advice on repertoire. So much for the smart art of programming and the importance of guiding public taste. Thank your lucky stars, then, for Orchestra 2001. Saturday night at the Independence Seaport Museum they left me feeling grateful even for a programming failure.
March 10, 2007 |
Pennsylvania Ballet unleashed a triumph Thursday night, with its world premiere of a steamy, explosive new Carmina Burana at the Academy of Music. Any worries about replacing John Butler's version - a favorite for four decades - now can be forgotten. The hour-long ballet, choreographed by corps de ballet member and de facto resident choreographer Matthew Neenan, sped along in a revel of eruptive jumps, sexy duets and full, lush ensemble sections. Loosely based on a series of poems about drinking, gambling, fate, life and love, it was danced in an ever-changing variety of skin-tight costumes.
February 11, 2007 |
Comparisons are accumulating. A year ago, violinists Janine Jansen and Julian Rachlin were, very simply, violinists. Now that these two promising soloists are an acknowledged couple - and how often do violinists get together? - they're compared to soccer star David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams - in a more genteel classical-music incarnation. At least last year. Now they're Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with fiddles. "Omigod," said Jansen the other day on the phone from Europe.
December 11, 2006 |
It's quite possible that Gloria Justen stands exactly at the precipice of classical music's past and future. You've no doubt noticed her before. The violinist, who played Prokofiev yesterday afternoon with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, is a freelancer around town, and might be the only regular substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra whose hair color is seasonally adjusted to intense shades of artificial tint. Yesterday, it was coal-black.
June 23, 2006 |
Many musical mysteries resolve themselves if only given enough time and thought. But I'll bet that in my final moments, as my life is flashing before me, I'll still be baffled by the acoustics and sound design at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. On Night Two of the Philadelphia Orchestra summer season on Wednesday, the two halves of the concert were completely different experiences, seemingly played by vastly different orchestras. The size of the ensembles varied from one half to the next, the first having a smaller group appropriate to Mozart's Don Giovanni overture and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, known as The Emperor, with the ever-welcome soloist Emanuel Ax. Whether the fault lay with the performance, the acoustics or amplification, the orchestral sound was miserable.
March 19, 2006 |
Look around high schools today, and you will likely find that Generation X slackers have been replaced with Gen Y achievers. Take Sunny Cowell. At 16, she has a disposition that suits her name. She will graduate in June from Burlington Township High School in the top 10 percent of her class and was accepted early to Swarthmore. A violist, she will perform with the Philadelphia Sinfonia at the Kimmel Center on March 29. Last weekend, she performed on stage in her high school musical, Damn Yankees.
January 11, 2006 |
Life in our polyglot, postmodern society is inevitably bewildering at times, but not when people and art from distant historic corners collide - with uniquely illuminating effects. In a typical Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia concert, for example, you'd put up with Carl Maria von Weber's Clarinet Concerto No. 2 as a lightweight vehicle for an underserved solo instrument. Also, you'd work mightily to hear anything fresh in Aaron Copland's overexposed Appalachian Spring. Put the two together, as did guest conductor Jahja Ling Monday at the Kimmel Center, and dialogue ensues.
September 13, 2005 |
Stacked with blue-chip names for its 40th-anniversary run at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's concerts this summer drew 39,370 listeners - 26 percent more than last year. "We had a great season overall, but it was a particularly good season with the orchestra," said Marcia J. White, the New York center's president and executive director. "I think our artists and performances were spectacular, our audiences were terrific, and the reviews outstanding.