September 25, 2013 |
Though Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra has been such a constant presence in Philadelphia Orchestra programs from the 1940s on, one easily forgets what a steep challenge it can be for musicians playing it for the first time - no doubt the case with many Symphony in C members who credibly and sometimes thrillingly took on the piece in Camden Saturday. Written on borrowed time when the composer was fatally ill and thought his composing life was over, the Concerto for Orchestra lives up to its title by challenging every corner of the symphony orchestra, but in ways so consolidated and distilled that virtuoso flourishes are few, hiding places even fewer.
August 11, 2013 |
In its 10 years, Symphony in C's summer camp for South Jersey middle and high school musicians has provided training to more than 500 students. For two weeks each summer, the whine of violins, the clanging of cymbals, and the sounds of tinny horns have filled the halls of Rutgers-Camden. But this year, that rehearsal music sounds a little sweeter, and the coordinators and campers are relishing in it a bit more, knowing that the camp, two weeks of intensive training in orchestra and band instruments, almost didn't happen.
December 7, 2012 |
They just couldn't let him go. As Gustavo Dudamel basked in audience love along with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela Wednesday night, a few in Verizon Hall unfurled Venezuelan flags and shouted suggested encores. "After this huge piece," the conductor said in the wake of a Strauss tone poem, "we're getting old. " Who knew about this gift for being coy? The audience got its encore, and then another. People come to classical music for all kinds of reasons - thank goodness - and this audience came to connect with youth, energy, and Venezuelan pride.
December 6, 2012 |
Sometimes, the Philadelphia Orchestra needs an outsider to remind it of who it is and what it was. Gianandrea Noseda - a guest conductor so popular with the orchestra that he was reengaged for a two-week stint this season starting Thursday (with other return visits in the works) - happens to be the foremost Rachmaninoff specialist of his generation. This week, he's conducting that composer's Symphony No. 2 Thursday through Saturday at the Kimmel Center with what is generally considered to be "Rachmaninoff's orchestra.
May 8, 2012 |
Though only nine minutes away from Philadelphia by train, Symphony in C's Rutgers-Camden home is truly in another state, which is why the prospect of hearing Gyorgy Ligeti's Violin Concerto on Saturday at the Gordon Theater felt vaguely perilous. This post-conservatory orchestra and its soloist Augustin Hadelich could be counted on to meet the music's considerable demands. But what about the suburban audience? The outset was not promising: After a new orchestra piece by Roger Zare titled Green Flash (winner of the orchestra's annual Young Composers Competition)
April 24, 2012 |
If the Curtis Institute is about achieving greatness in various forms, an essential part of that would have to be experiencing the pitfalls that are everywhere in the symphonic repertoire. Nothing dire happened when the Curtis Symphony Orchestra played Jennifer Higdon, Brahms, and Bartok under Robert Spano Monday at the Kimmel Center; the showcase element of the concert was delivered with swaggering confidence. But that doesn't mean any given masterpiece's DNA was located. The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra was most distinctive: Rather than running the movements together as so many conductors do, Spano treated them as discrete entities in ways that reminded you of the music's strangeness, how movements start in mid-thought and end in ways suggesting that there's plenty left to say. Spano pursued a great variety of string sounds.
April 4, 2012 |
Though Astral Artists has long been an alternative to competition-winning virtuosity, this young-artist organization's annual Kimmel Center showcase illuminates how much a genuine musical personality is a priority for being noticed; no longer are youthful charisma and great technical ability alone the ticket to a career. All three of the Astral artists on stage Monday night - flutist Angel Hsiao, clarinetist Benito Meza, and violinist Benjamin Beilman - revealed at least a nascent temperament, and often much more, in concertos that afforded comparisons with the best.
March 19, 2012 |
There might be mathematical formulae illuminating the refined relationships that tie a musical work together and infuse it with life, but it remains for the conductor to put the X's and Y's in the proper places. Such mathematical placement, however intuitive, is a strength of Rossen Milanov, who led music by Beethoven, Kodaly, and Brahms in the Symphony in C spring concert Saturday at Gordon Auditorium in Camden. The flow of rhythms and textures in Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 were so easily placed that the performance was a lesson in logic.
January 15, 2012 |
Denali National Park and Preserve is in Alaska. Acadia is the old French name for what is now essentially New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Those two chunks of real estate are 3,000 miles apart, but that didn't keep those intrepid marketers at GMC from joining them in automotive matrimony. Actually, the Acadia Denali isn't really a bicoastal couple. It is the top-of-the-line rendition of GMC's large and largely pleasing crossover SUV. How top-of-the-line? Well, the base Acadia starts at $32,605.
January 7, 2012 |
Nobody should program Beethoven's perpetually overexposed Symphony No. 5 without sound reasons. But the Philadelphia Orchestra's guest conductor David Zinman has a claim on doing so, if only on the strength of his famous recordings with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich that have sold more than 1 million discs and showed the world how far a modern-instrument orchestra can go in approximating the manner and sound of period instruments. But the underlying brilliance of Zinman's Philadelphia Orchestra concert Friday was how he framed the symphony.