August 1, 2011 |
If you've ever had the urge to watch a woman twirl a large hoop around her tightly wrapped bun in time to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Dance of the Buffoons," Thursday night at the Mann Center was your chance. Not that it will be your last. Cirque de la Symphonie, a jolly entertainment that pits the Russian National Orchestra against acrobats, a contortionist, and one charming harlequin, is making the rounds. The concept isn't likely to leave anytime soon. The Philadelphia Orchestra has two dates this week with Cirque de la Symphonie at its summer site in Saratoga Springs, and its new strategic plan calls for development of a "cirque"-type show of its own. A Philadelphia take isn't likely to bring out Thursday's crowd of Russians and Ukrainians.
July 5, 2011 |
We have woven ourselves into a ubiquitous braid of tiny musics. Sweet, grating, deafening; ringtones, beeps, startup and shutdown jingles, notes of welcome, questioning, and warning. We have remade our sonic universe to reflect all the things we want our gadgets and tools to do for us. Sound is our ongoing conversation with all these aids. A Hamilton Beach microwave oven beeps a C when you hit a button, when a cooking task is done, or when it wants your attention for some other thing.
May 24, 2011 |
THE IMPLOSION of the Barnes was an inside job. After squandering millions on legal fees, the board then sat on its hands, maintaining that it couldn't raise $1.5 million a year to keep the facility where it was. It could raise no money to stay, but found hundreds of millions to move. When it comes to the Philadelphia Orchestra, you can't help but wonder if their board has the same kind of death wish. Its move to bankruptcy court, which got worldwide attention, has clearly prompted key players to scout out the job market.
May 10, 2011 |
When Symphony in C's longtime music director Rossen Milanov delivered a preperformance talk at the orchestra's season-ending concert on Saturday, the subject turned to the orchestra's financial needs - and you had to shudder. With the Philadelphia Orchestra drama playing out across the river, might one of South Jersey's best cultural assets also be in trouble? Not to worry. There's no crisis, just the launching of Symphony in C's annual fund campaign. The warmth of Milanov's delivery created a sense that we're all in this together: Audiences need the musicians as much as the musicians need to be heard.
March 10, 2011 |
The idea keeps catching on - even if audiences are still catching up. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is preparing for its second live movie-theater simulcast on Sunday - only a week after Carmen in 3-D leapt from London's Royal Opera and a few weeks before the English National Opera's 3-D Lucrezia Borgia arrives on DirecTV. More quietly, the Philadelphia Orchestra continues on an alternate route, eschewing satellite technology for the Internet in the seventh of a series of nine simulcasts March 20. The music world can't help but be dazzled by the Metropolitan Opera's recently released simulcast numbers: The nine transmissions in the 2009-10 season sold 2.4 million tickets, grossed $48 million, and eventually made a net profit of $8 million for the opera company.
February 24, 2011 |
Tours are tough for most symphony orchestras. But for the London Symphony Orchestra, tours are a break from a hectic schedule of recording film scores and preparing a full symphonic program that's performed only once or twice. So if playing Mahler's five-movement Symphony No. 7 under Valery Gergiev at the Kimmel Center on Tuesday was a relatively light day, it showed in the confidence with which the orchestra played music that lashes out in multiple directions - and in the dignity that brought to Gergiev's mercurial tendencies.
February 21, 2011 |
CAMDEN - In music, as in other areas of life, a young artist's ideal situation is one where successes are noticed and mistakes are understandable - one reason Symphony in C is worth the trip to Camden, both for musicians and audiences. When the flu sidelined the up-and-coming pianist Di Wu, her Saturday replacement, Sara Daneshpour, had a star-is-born opportunity. She at least had welcome exposure that will serve her well in future, not-so-last-minute engagements. Music director Rossen Milanov gave a highly considered performance of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll that might not have worked outside the resonant acoustic of the Gordon Theater.
January 7, 2011 |
There's been a situation brewing on Broad Street - excuse me, make that the Avenue of the Arts. Amid the beautiful Kimmel Center and the welcoming Suzanne Roberts Theater, ugly has surfaced. No, I'm not talking about that towering monstrosity, Symphony House, which my colleague, architecture critic Inga Saffron, called "the ugliest new condo building in Philadelphia" when it opened three years ago. I'm talking about a different kind of ugly. Because for more than two years, the 32-story Symphony House, the new kid on the block, has been embroiled in a pitched battle with the venerable Jamaican Jerk Hut, the popular eatery two blocks away that has been a South Street mainstay for more than 20 years.
December 13, 2010 |
Symphony in C might never evolve into an authoritative baroque-music orchestra, but you couldn't begrudge its right to the Pergolesi Stabat Mater on Saturday at Camden's Gordon Theater: Where else can one hear this showcase for two vocal soloists and orchestra? And though countertenors do seem to grow on trees these days, the young Anthony Roth Costanzo made an important local debut. In its rehabilitated state, the Stabat Mater allows such discoveries: Though known previously in a corrupt edition for amateur choruses, the Stabat Mater was written for two accomplished vocal soloists in 12 concise solo arias and duets that meditate on the grief of the Virgin Mary - in a distillation of baroque opera that goes to the heart of matters without recitatives or gratuitous vocal display.
November 15, 2010 |
A 21st-century micro-symphony? An extremely eventful fanfare? A soundtrack to a yet-to-be-made film? All such descriptions apply to Tan Dun's Internet Symphony No. 1 ("Eroica") , which, typical of this composer, is as interesting to explain as it is to hear. Tan conducted the local premiere Friday as part of the Philadelphia Orchestra's multimedia Sound Waves series, along with The Map, his 2002 concerto for cello, video, and orchestra, which has aged in curious ways since last heard here five years ago. The Internet Symphony warrants a reprieve from the unwritten rule that composers should never talk about a piece for longer than it takes to perform.