April 23, 2010 |
The big news from Wednesday night's ensembles playing under the banner of the Curtis Chamber Orchestra is the fact of it - the idea that the concert happened at all. You just don't see programs like this anymore. Not, at least, in our era of the box office wagging the repertoire. Led by Giancarlo Guerrero, the concert brought listeners an obscure suite from Stravinsky, Kurt Weill in his most hard-nosed-dissonant mode, a sterling statement of serialism from Webern, and the dark shadows of Schoenberg.
April 15, 2010 |
Charles J. Overington entered Chandler Hall Hospice in Newtown Township, Bucks County, on April 7 and soon had a request. When a George School student who plays violin at Chandler went into his room the next day, Mr. Overington asked her to play "Ashokan Farewell," a 1982 tune best known from the PBS series The Civil War. "It's unbelievable that she knows this song," the only one for which Mr. Overington asked, said a daughter, Marian Schurz....
April 13, 2010 |
During the head-spinning moments following the announcement of her Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday, Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon thought mostly about thanking people in her more distant past. "It's not so much about me, but my high school band director, Larry Hicks," said Higdon, 47, who grew up in Seymour, Tenn. "I should also call my flute teacher, Mrs. Bentley. " The Pulitzer for her Violin Concerto - which was premiered by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last year and is scheduled for a Philadelphia performance in February - came just 10 weeks after her Percussion Concerto won the Grammy Award for best classical contemporary composition.
December 12, 2009 |
The powerful romanticism that comes with late-period works was unavoidable at the world premiere of George Walker's Violin Concerto Thursday by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Though written two years ago, the concerto was unveiled as the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, long associated with Philadelphia in many capacities, looks forward to his 88th birthday. You couldn't help but expect something cumulative and wise, especially from this inspirational figure in the African American community.
June 10, 2009 |
New concertos pop up so frequently that composers worry that they're turning into concerto machines. The venerable Elliott Carter is up to 11, the reliable Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has written eight, and Jennifer Higdon has followed up her breakthrough Concerto for Orchestra with seven more works in that medium, most recently a Violin Concerto that has had so many performances that abundance of supply clearly hasn't lessened demand. The piece's East Coast premiere Saturday with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop followed its February premiere by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, as well as performances in Toronto; Lucerne, Switzerland; and Liverpool, England, where Hilary Hahn (for whom the piece was written)
May 26, 2009 |
Classical music folks have so few mainstream movies about their world that most such films have the shelf life of classics, whether they deserve it or not. The 1998 film The Red Violin (beloved by some, but not by me) enjoys sustained visibility partly due to the concert works that John Corigliano has made from his Oscar-winning film score - one explanation for why Swarthmore's Lang Concert Hall was packed for Orchestra 2001's Sunday performance of the piece. Expectations were bound to run high because soloist Elizabeth Pitcairn was playing the actual red violin - the so-called Mendelssohn Stradivarius - that inspired the film about the history of the centuries-old instrument and its owners.
April 16, 2009 |
In a world of concert violinists that's increasingly crowded with the young and the charismatic, Sergey Khachatryan stands apart: He looks as young as any but seems almost too old to be alive. A brooding, slightly pained presence, the 24-year-old winner of Belgium's famous Queen Elisabeth Competition seems to submit to the great violin concertos as much as he plays them - doing so with truth-probing tempos and intimacy of expression, he seems to speak through the violin as if it were a first language.
February 13, 2009 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra's Hungarian debut last night already was long overdue, considering that Budapest is one of the world's music capitals. But it was made even more so when delays caused by touring logistics turned a by-the-book evening into a four-hour concert that included a quickly assembled chamber-music prelude. The problems were caused by snow outside Luxembourg, the previous stop on the orchestra's two-week-plus tour of Europe and the Canary Islands. Although the musicians flew into Budapest with ample time to prepare, the truck containing their instruments and formal wear was slowed by weather, and wasn't expected to arrive until 7:30 p.m., the designated start time at Bela Bartok National Concert Hall.
January 21, 2009 |
Chanlan Lee stood onstage with a violin wedged under his chin. One hand flew over the fingerboard as the other guided a bow across the strings. The sound was mellow, yearning. For one so young, the concentration was fierce. Chanlan was 7 when the video was filmed as he played Jules Massenet's "Meditation" from Thais, his signature piece of music. It was one of his final performances. At age 8, Chanlan died Dec. 19 after a three-week battle with viral encephalitis, the second such case on the Main Line in two years.
November 20, 2008 |
Violins aren't supposed to go out unaccompanied. They're basically single-line instruments, except when J.S. Bach devised ways for the instrument to sketch great musical edifices by means of ingenuity and suggestion. But in two concerts over three days, solo violin music by Eugene Ysa?e and Fritz Kreisler (presented by Astral Artists) and Mark O'Connor (presented at the Curtis Institute of Music) arrived without provoking unflattering comparisons to Bach. Nor did you long for the due?a-like presence of the piano.