November 11, 2015 |
One of the much-felt but little-addressed hurdles for classical music's prospects is its glaring lack of cool. Black Violin is on the case, and if you saw the violin-viola duo's show Sunday afternoon at World Cafe Live, you probably left feeling that this big image problem had landed in good hands. Let me say straight off that the set of a dozen and a half songs blending hip-hop with classical string technique isn't a cup of tea likely to appeal to core classical fans. It's a highly amplified, electronically enhanced, drum-heavy and monotonous brew of songs exclusively four-four, with nearly all the pieces landing loudly on beats two and four.
February 28, 2015 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a rather plastic idea of the concert format these days. On Wednesday night, that meant a hybrid of the talk-and-play concerts it has done under various names over the last two decades, plus offering the LiveNote app that allows the audience to follow real-time program notes on mobile devices. The start time was earlier than usual (6:30 p.m.), and tickets a flat $45 for an intermission-less concert of about 75 minutes. It would be hard to say the format struck a chord with ticket buyers, given the audience in the low hundreds that turned out in Verizon Hall.
January 4, 2015 |
For 23 years, since he founded it in 1985, Robert Smythe ran a unique theater in Philadelphia - a theater of tragedy and comedy, the bizarre and the ridiculous, the surreal and the not-so-real. When he finally departed from Mum Puppettheatre in 2008, shortly before its closure, Smythe had done something magical: He had brought puppetry out of the shadows and into the consciousness of adult theater-going Philadelphians. No mean feat for a guy who cut his teeth on the Muppets and Burr Tillstrom of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie fame.
November 6, 2014 |
Maurice Abramson, 103, formerly of Elkins Park, a family physician who practiced in Kensington for many years, died Friday, Oct. 24, at his home in Plantation, Fla. Born in Newark, N.J., Dr. Abramson spent his childhood in Belleville, N.J., where he learned to play the violin. He graduated from Cornell University in 1933 and Thomas Jefferson Medical College in 1937. After serving an internship at Philadelphia General Hospital for two years, he set up a family practice in Kensington with the aim of becoming an obstetrician and gynecologist.
October 28, 2014 |
Stanley M. Nowacki, 104, a longtime doctor in Pottstown who received a Bronze Star for his work saving blood during World War II, died Wednesday, Oct. 22, in Lexington, Va., of renal failure. Born to Polish immigrants in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia on Dec. 20, 1909, Dr. Nowacki graduated from Germantown High School in 1926 and then became an Owl twice over, graduating from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in 1930 and his M.D. in 1935. The next year, Dr. Nowacki married Ellen Siek, who years before had caught his eye at a parish dance.
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.