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.
April 29, 2011 |
The Kimmel Center's rooftop garden will be crowned with a new glassy box. At the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets, the little-loved black granite cube has been marked for demolition. An open-air restaurant with windows opening onto Spruce is on the way - plus more bathrooms and, possibly, an inventive answer to those escalators patrons have been asking for. A vast menu of improvements has been assembled into a major renovation of the Kimmel - shared this week with The Inquirer - just a decade after Philadelphia's $275 million answer to Lincoln Center opened its doors.
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.