October 3, 2014 |
Vivaldi's Four Seasons echoes through the Second Empire architecture of City Hall. Tourists and commuters are surprised to find that the nearly 300-year-old piece is being played by a youth of 18. Sean Bennett is dressed in a gray hoodie and jeans. Attire is one of the few casual things about him. He's selectively social, but he feels most open and vulnerable with his violin. "I find it really hard to fake emotions in a piece," says Bennett, seated on a chair in the central courtyard of City Hall, near his favorite spot for busking.
August 28, 2014 |
'Why is there a violin on your wall?" guests ask when they first catch sight of the gleaming, polished instrument mounted to a frame in our living room. "It belonged to my father," I answer. My grandmother had a dream for her son - she wanted him to play the violin. But from the moment my father's family came to this country from Russia at the turn of the last century, when Dad was just 5, my grandfather wanted his son to spend every free moment helping in the family's produce store in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia.
June 11, 2014 |
J. Marvin Bloom, 81, of Blue Bell, an optometrist in Center City for 40 years, died Saturday, May 24, of cancer at his home. Before retiring in 2000, Dr. Bloom practiced optometry and fitted patients with contact lenses from an office at 12th and Market Streets. He was much beloved by his many patients, his family said. "We are hearing from hundreds of people who knew him. It is unbelievable," said his wife, Dene Samitz Bloom. Born in Chester, Dr. Bloom graduated from Chester High School in 1950 and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry with a doctor of optometry degree in 1955.
April 25, 2014 |
DAVID BROMBERG is a study in contradictions. The seasoned musician has a star on the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame "right in front of the Academy of Music - even though I left town as an infant," he chortles. Adding insult to injury: When D.B. decided to relocate East from Chicago in 2002 with his artist/musician wife, Nancy Josephson, they picked Wilmington, Del., as their new home base, rather than Philly, because, um, the mayor (James Baker) was a fan, offered Bromberg a sweetheart deal to be an urban pioneer and later anointed him the city's "Cultural Ambassador.
January 16, 2014 |
A string quartet on a diet? A violin sonata on steroids? However you heard Monday's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert of music for two violins, it wasn't anything typical. What looked like an enterprising but oddball program of Leclair, Milhaud, and Kreisler at the American Philosophical Society turned out to be something that really needed to be heard. With their intensive, ongoing professional association, David Kim and Juliette Kang (respectively, the concertmaster and first associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra)
November 20, 2013 |
When he plays with his youth orchestra in front of more than 300 people, 13-year-old Max Chambers of Berwyn isn't nervous. He's done this a lot, he says, looking every bit the professional despite his age, in a white button-down and black dress pants. Max sits in the first chair of the second violin section of the Musicopia String Orchestra, which played on Sunday at the Benjamin Britten Festival Concert at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Since he was 9, Max has known that he wants to spend his life playing the violin.
October 27, 2013 |
PRINCETON - The image of Chris Thile playing Bach, alone on the Richardson Auditorium stage on Thursday, won't go away anytime soon. Here was a lanky, slightly crooked, fashionably rumpled 32-year-old guy with all his physicality funneled into a relatively small mandolin, negotiating the considerable intricacies of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin . A tour de force, obviously. But Thile also brought an element of loneliness to Bach seldom heard behind all the music's compositional exuberance.
June 3, 2013 |
If there is a mystique about baroque music performance, Camerata Ama Deus answers with a good laugh. Music director Valentin Radu, introducing violin soloists Thomas DiSarlo and Thomas Jackson at the ensemble's concert Friday, noted that they had doffed their jackets in the warmth of Chestnut Hill's St. Martin-in-the-Fields. He said he had asked them "to play topless. " In concertos of Bach, Telemann, and Benedetto Marcello, Radu produced an evening of baroque pops, works for oboe, trumpet, and violins.
April 16, 2013 |
Often lost amid all the exactitude issuing from conservatories today is the reason we make music in the first place. It's not about being able to play all the notes or play them in tune. Interpretation has to mean something if it is to be worth the trouble, especially since the trouble is considerable. How fortunate, then, must be the students of Miriam Fried, the violin pedagogue who teaches at the New England Conservatory. On Sunday night, for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, she came to the Perelman Theater with one of her progeny - in fact, her prime progeny, pianist Jonathan Biss, who happens to be her son. Whatever their offstage dynamics may be, in terms of musical substance it was a performance of equals - if very different ones.
February 14, 2013
By Seymour I. "Spence" Toll After my 48 years of blessed marriage to Jean Barth Toll, pancreatic cancer swept her away in 1999. For all those years, and ever since, I have been a one-woman man. At the core of it was the appeal of her warm, gentle, and unpretentious spirit, with its unfailing kindness, deep friendships, and boundless capacity for our singular love. She had another delightful self. Although she could dress as tastefully as a conservatively clad fashion model, she enjoyed clothing that was not only old but beat up. She often wore a sweater in which her elbows poked out of holes in the sleeves.