April 29, 2011 |
If the giddy atmosphere of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts has accomplished anything in the last few weeks, it has been to remind the city why it was once in love with the Kimmel Center. It promised to be a great popular gathering spot, but the romance lasted hardly longer than the sheen on the Kimmel's pleated glass roof. Within months of its opening in 2001, Philadelphians had amassed a litany of grievances against the building. They were put off by the fortified brick walls, the barren interior plaza, the broiling temperatures in the rooftop garden, the acoustically challenged Verizon Hall, the hard-to-find restrooms, and, perhaps most of all, the lack of anything resembling a vibe.
April 24, 2011
The Kimmel Center was packed last Sunday evening, the lobby a joyful noise. Verizon Hall was filled to near-capacity with a diverse crowd, economically, racially, children and grandparents, a festive patchwork quilt of the region. It was the Kimmel of its founders' dreams. The crowd wasn't there for the Philadelphia Orchestra, but for the Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson and his classical-jazz mashup, Philly-Paris Lockdown, part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.
March 13, 2011 |
The restaurant is closed, the gift shop shuttered. If you show up at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts just before curtain, the place is lively, and its patrons fill Center City restaurants and garages before and after shows. Most other times, though, the Kimmel Center sits empty and sterile, physical evidence of a promise unfulfilled. Linger too long in the plaza and a security guard will come along and ask you to state your business. The Kimmel was conceived as an energetic public space.
February 16, 2011 |
Lucky for Philadelphia that Kimmel Center audiences aren't as exuberantly destructive as sports fans after a World Series victory. Otherwise, Verizon Hall might have been trashed Monday night after a similarly prestigious victory, when locally based Grammy Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon took her bows for her Violin Concerto after its Philadelphia premiere by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Hilary Hahn. Mayhem was under control. No briefcases or cough drops were flung.
January 8, 2011 |
Coming into view slowly before he takes the post of music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has only begun to fill out a public profile, and what the public thinks of him inevitably hinges on what expectations one harbors of an orchestra leader in this unfortunate trough of institutional ambition. If, for instance, you feel the group's way out of financial and organizational chaos is to connect a podium personality and a community, then Nézet-Séguin's Thursday-night guest appearance was a tidy triumph.
December 4, 2010 |
Turnover being what it is, it's funny to think that not many current members of the Philadelphia Orchestra were around for Riccardo Muti's Respighi tone poems. These colorful pieces are far in the rearview mirror - two and three decades past - but even now they resonate as events. (Of course, Muti was an event.) While Gianandrea Noseda's view of Respighi doesn't have much in common with that of his elder countryman, he was no less a convincing evangelist Friday afternoon. Where Muti turned the Philadelphia Orchestra into something incisive and terse, Noseda emphasized humanity.
November 12, 2010
By Rachel Gouk Saturday Hallelujahs for Haiti A celebration of music features more than 500 choristers from 60 Philadelphia-area churches raising their voices to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief. One Joyful Choir will feature brass, organ, piano, and percussion instruments in "Hallelujahs for Haiti. " The event is organized and staffed by volunteers from the Presbytery of Philadelphia. Tenor Dave Corson hopes the music will inspire the people. Proceeds will benefit Hôpital Sainte Croix in Léogâne in Haiti.
October 31, 2010 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra's music-director-to-be walked out on stage Friday night with a microphone instead of a baton, drawing a partial standing ovation before his first beat. "Wait and see if you still like me after the concert," Yannick Nézet-Séguin said. It was a charming rejoinder, but there was really never any doubt. In his third program with the orchestra - and his first since being named music director beginning in 2012 - the 35-year-old Montrealer showed his new public what it might expect from the Nézet-Séguin era. He turned in assured, if not revelatory, interpretations of Haydn and Mahler.
October 24, 2010 |
BERLIN - The music was finished. Many bows had been taken. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra had left the stage Thursday night, except for a few straggling double bassists. But listeners were still there and still clapping. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin obligingly scooted back onto the Berlin Philharmonie stage with characteristic energy, and was greeted with yet another approving roar. The orchestra had played not just well, but interestingly, with a spontaneity that sometimes teetered on the edge of chaos in ways that suited the music and were encouraged by the guest conductor.
October 23, 2010 |
The arrival of the baby conductors should surprise no one attuned to the triumph of youth culture and a related bout of orchestral obsequiousness. But to be factual about it, we've been here before - and with salutary consequences. Riccardo Muti was 31 when he first conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra. Esa-Pekka Salonen led the Philadelphians at age 28 - six years before taking over the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This week, Los Angeles once again was the site of the fountain of youth, when the Philadelphia Orchestra imported L.A.'s associate conductor, Lionel Bringuier, after Semyon Bychkov canceled what would have been his long-overdue subscription-concert debut.