March 6, 2012 |
In a world of shifting musical genres and fickle audiences, what is the pops orchestra of 2012 and beyond? Our own plucky example of the ensemble species, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, is in the process of rebuilding itself even as it ponders the question. Tuesday, to emphasize its move from offices on Broad Street to Walnut, the group puts on a dog-and-pony show with a parade of Pops musicians and Mummers - ceremony catching up with reality. The Pops split from the Philadelphia Orchestra Association in the wake of a failed five-year merger agreement brokered with the help of former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo.
February 20, 2012 |
The job of an orchestra has always been to walk a queasy line between leading public taste and following it, but you might excuse the Philadelphia Orchestra for leaning into the latter territory more often lately, given its precarious state. This is a year for learning to love the Philadelphians again. Friday night's program reinforced the notion that if you give a certain large slice of the listenership what it wants, it will delight. Here it was Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Nikolaï Lugansky - in other words, a piece that has been building a fan base in Philadelphia for nearly a century, played by a pianist with buzz.
January 15, 2012 |
Best Music Writing 2011 Alex Ross, guest editor, and Daphne Carr, series editor Da Capo Press. 336 pp. $16 As a classical flutist, I had no idea I'd be interested in hearing Ke$ha's song "TiK ToK. " But Jonathan Bogart's fun essay "Keep Tickin and Tockin Work It All Around the Clock" persuaded me to download it - if only to find out what he means by the singer's "party-past-the-point-of-fun agenda. " Why she'd want to blow her speakers up remains a mystery.
December 18, 2011 |
The Kimmel Center's grand opening 10 years ago was a model of how not to do it. The performing arts center was so far from finished in its opening week that at one concert musicians gamely wore hard hats. Verizon Hall's out-of-control air-conditioning led bejeweled patrons at the opening gala to joke about seeing indoor snow flurries. The acoustics inhabited the opposite end of the weather index: The Washington Post's critic called the hall "an acoustical Sahara. " "You ask, 'My gosh, why wasn't this done right the first time around?
October 25, 2011 |
With its recent tumult of labor strife and money woes, the Kimmel Center seems an unlikely site to stage a musical spring. Yet there it was last weekend, the irrepressible stirring of renewal. At Saturday morning's first Philadelphia Orchestra family concert this year, cellist John-Henry Crawford, 18, a Curtis student and winner in the orchestra's Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition, projected polished charisma and a singing sound in the first movement of Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto . His was only one voice among a hundred the next afternoon at the season's first outing of the Curtis Institute of Music orchestra beyond its luxurious new tailor-built rehearsal room.
October 20, 2011 |
When Verizon Hall opened in December 2001, it came with an enormous footnote. Don't rush to judgment, acousticians from Artec said. A new hall requires "tuning" before anyone can know how it really sounds. Tuning commenced. The series of small adjustments turned out to be inadequate. Now about to enter its second decade, Verizon is once again a work in progress, another round of remediations - $1.3 million worth - having taken place over the summer. And the salient question recurs: Is it a great orchestra hall (yet)
October 20, 2011 |
Underneath the big hair, behind the rock-star clothes, and despite the distracting paparazzi back home in China, he's still Lang Lang. As NCM Fathom technicians run miles of cables backstage at Verizon Hall in preparation for Saturday's live simulcast to 500 movie theaters across the country, pianist Lang Lang is bear-hugging Philadelphia Orchestra chief conductor Charles Dutoit and chatting about their favorite Beijing restaurants. Wide-eyed as ever, Lang Lang, 29, played through parts of the two concertos he'll play in his Thursday-through-Saturday concerts here.
October 1, 2011 |
On most nights, an appeal to the social misfits in the Kimmel Center's audience would float all the way up to its mahogany ceiling, untroubled by anything so uncouth as a reply. But k.d. lang has built her career on a hitherto unimaginable fusion of audiences, mixing musical traditionalism with a persona that is anything but. "I know there are some people in this city living left of center," lang said Thursday, and the crowd roared. She smiled, "We like freaks. " An out lesbian who once claimed to be the reincarnation of Patsy Cline, lang reconciles contradictions within herself.
May 10, 2011 |
In its 10th anniversary 2011-12 season, the Kimmel Center is holding steady with 50-odd events - same as the current season - that don't stray far from the mainstream of their respective genres. But the specific events are top attractions such as violinist Itzhak Perlman, Billy Elliot: The Musical , and jazz great Herbie Hancock. The number of presentations - apart from such resident companies as the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia - is down from the 70-plus of past years, which also had more solo concerts by the top classical artists.
May 5, 2011 |
In its bankruptcy petition last month, the Philadelphia Orchestra Association took aim at the Kimmel Center, its landlord for Verizon Hall, and the complex lease agreement between the two organizations. The orchestra's cry for relief from the lease, though so far lacking in specifics, has prompted some board members and others to advocate the orchestra's return to the Academy of Music. The orchestra pays rent in Verizon Hall, and if it returned to the Academy, which it still owns, it could shave expenses, the argument goes.