September 22, 2015 |
The double-bass world could use Xavier Foley. At 21, he's a standout player, studying at the Curtis Institute of Music. But he's also a bright spark of a composer, and, to judge from Saturday night's premiere of his "Zalistar" Trio , a musician who hears borders between styles as limitations best ignored. The work was commissioned by Astral Artists, and opened its season alongside other chamber works at the Church of the Holy Trinity. Structurally, the piece fits an accepted norm, moving from section to section before returning to original material.
September 20, 2015 |
Curtis Institute of Music board chair Nina Baroness von Maltzahn is stepping down. She will serve through the end of the school year, the conservatory announced Friday. Maltzahn - who divides her time among Uruguay, Berlin, Zurich, and New York - became board chair in 2013, taking over from H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who held the position for eight years. Curtis' bylaws call for the chair to serve in terms of one year, subject to renewal. Maltzahn's original intention when accepting the chair position was to serve for two years, a Curtis spokeswoman said.
August 4, 2015 |
The traits that make the orchestral player do not necessarily translate to chamber music, but you never would have known that from hearing violinist Amy Lee on Friday night at the Curtis Institute of Music. The 2005 Curtis grad is now associate concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, an ensemble whose defining characteristic is its exquisite precision. That Lee reflected the Cleveland philosophy was hardly surprising. The extent of her individualized approach, however, suggested she doesn't need an interpretive assist from the podium.
July 15, 2015 |
The band Say Anything, which played the Electric Factory on Sunday, borrowed its name from Say Anything - the 1989 late-teen romance film by Cameron Crowe. When a band does something like that, it will forever be expected to deliver an exceptional level of risk-taking drama. The film is famous for the scene in which John Cusack's character, in a last-ditch effort to win the heart of his high school crush, desperately but defiantly lifts an enormous boom box above his head and blasts Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" outside her bedroom window.
June 5, 2015 |
In terms of choosing a calling card to send out into the world, the Curtis Institute of Music could hardly do better than the Aizuri Quartet. Curtis' quartet-in-residence played a recital Tuesday night previewing a tour that begins Friday in Mexico City, continues to Costa Rica and Chile (including a stop at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago), and ends with a different program in Germany and Austria. Whatever else it does for diplomacy, the Aizuri Quartet planted a flag in rare artistic soil at its Field Concert Hall recital.
March 25, 2015 |
Though choice of soloists is often an important component of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia's sense of alternative symphonic experiences, previously unknown guest conducting talents can feel like an even more welcoming ambush. Sunday's headliner at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater ostensibly was Sean Chen, a young pianist who has placed well in competitions (the Van Cliburn, for one) and is a nominee for a 2015 Leonore Annenberg arts fellowship award at Penn. But the concert started with Haydn's little-known overture to the opera Armida , conducted by the lesser-known Nir Kabaretti with a solidity not heard consistently since Ignat Solzhenitsyn's departure and, more than that, a distinctive, glistening personality.
March 11, 2015 |
'When all goes wrong . . . smile a lot. " Such was the advice that conductor Scott Terrell gave to the everyday people who stepped up to lead a Philadelphia Orchestra contingent Monday at the Reading Terminal Market. Orchestra players have performed pop-ups from Macau to the Comcast Center, and Monday morning word went out on the Internet that this one would be a "Conduct Us" program, where listeners could become participants and get a souvenir baton. No way the entire orchestra could fit at the northerly end of the crowded market, of course.
September 30, 2014 |
To those who believe the world is in general decline: At least one corner is rapidly improving, and that's the string quartet. In decades past, quartets practiced for months before daring to play anything for the outside world. Astral Artists opened its season of young-artist concerts on Saturday at the Church of the Holy Trinity with a group that converged only for this concert, but that delivered a weighty program with technical confidence plus a degree of imagination and emotional presence infrequently heard in any season.
March 26, 2014 |
Charting Beethoven's evolution from being the most genial guardian of the classical style to its executioner is an exercise done vividly and not infrequently through the string quartets and piano sonatas. But Peter Wiley and Anna Polonsky took audiences through the story from the vantage point of the cello sonata Sunday afternoon. Presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in two concerts at the American Philosophical Society, at 3 and 6 p.m., it was hardly a marathon (at least for the audience)
March 14, 2014 |
There's something intoxicating about the Elias String Quartet. It was no mystery that the group was able to cast a spell Tuesday night in a newish Sally Beamish work, the String Quartet No. 3 , with those spiritual Gaelic atmospherics. But for its Philadelphia Chamber Music Society visit, the Elias brought Haydn, personalizing the F major, Op. 77, No. 2 quartet to the point of instantly rendering every other performance in the listener's memory as but a pale stab. The third movement "Andante" was a landmark statement, intensely absorbing, exquisitely considered - a piece in itself, really.