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2012-13 music preview: Nine great coming attractionsBY: Tom Purdom 09.25.2012
Yannick, Ignat, Hilary Hahn, Natalie Zhu, bagpipes… my cup runneth over for Philadelphia’s coming music season. Here are nine programs I’m marking on my calendar.
From Yannick to the Black Watch:
This is the time of year when all good little music lovers open their mail to see what Philadelphia’s music organizations have decided to perform this season. Here are a few items from my mail that sparked some extra interest from a music devotee with highly personal tastes.
Yannick. The Philadelphia Orchestra may need to subsist on leaner budgets for a while but the response that Yannick Nézet-Séguin evokes from audiences indicates that the city’s flagship institution may not be sinking into an irreversible decline. Ironically, Yannick will inaugurate his reign with a requiem. But Verdi’s big, powerful piece should generate all the excitement the occasion demands. (Verdi’s Requiem: October 19, 20, 21, 2012 at Verizon Hall. www.philorch.org.)
Hilary Hahn.This violin virtuoso awed me with the maturity of her artistic sensibility when I first heard her play at Curtis, when she was 11, and she’s enhanced her artistry with a formidable technique as she’s developed over the ensuing 21 years. For her May appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Hahn will play the Korngold violin concerto, which is not one of my favorites. Korngold wrote a great deal of fondly remembered movie music after he came to America, and his concerto often sounds like a Hollywood producer’s conception of a violin concerto. But rest assured that Hahn will squeeze every drop of value out of the score. (May 3,4,5, 2013 at Verizon Hall. www.philorch.org.)
Natalie Zhu. This pianist partnered with Hilary Hahn for several years, and she shares her partner’s virtues. You can be confident you’re in for a treat whenever you see her name on a chamber music program. She’s listed on the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society schedule on January 14 (with clarinetist Ricardo Morales) and February 27 (with violinist Soovin Kim). Zhu will also guest with the 1807 and Friends chamber series on November 20 and with Mimi Stillman’s Dolce Suono series May 19.
Piffaro Meets Orchestra 2001. The overlap between “early music” and “new music” audiences is one of the more intriguing contemporary developments. Piffaro, Philadelphia’s Renaissance wind band, scored a big hit when it reached out to both audiences and commissioned Kile Smith’s Vespers in 2008. It will join forces with Orchestra 2001 on February 22 and 23 for a program that premieres new works by Smith and Arne Running, in the process pitting Renaissance winds against modern winds.
Tempesta di Mare presents Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg. We’re still exploring the immense repertoire produced by Baroque composers, but Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto has established a permanent position on the Baroque hit parade. The Tempesta di Mare Baroque Orchestra will open its season with a program featuring the Fourth Brandenburg and other works that have become favorites with early music audiences. (October 20, 21. www.tempestadimare.org.)
Dolce Suono does Debussy. Mimi Stillman’s Dolce Suono chamber series is devoting the entire 2012-13 season to a celebration of Debussy’s 150th birthday. The programs will include his Syrinx (Feb. 17) and Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp (April 28), as any Debussy fête should. But the four concerts will also look at Debussy and jazz (Oct. 21) and Debussy’s songs (May 19, with soprano Ann Davidson accompanied by Mimi Stillman, flute. and Natalie Zhu, piano), along with relevant works by Shostakovich and others. www.dolcesuono.com.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Second Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts will be based on a “time machine” theme, with all the events related to historical happenings. On May 12, 2013, the time machine travels to December 25, 1989, the day Leonard Bernstein marked the fall of the Berlin Wall with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in Berlin, that substituted Freiheit (freedom) for Freuden. Ignat Solzhenitsyn will conduct a special performance of the Ninth, featuring the Mendelssohn Club and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. www.kimmelcenter.org.
Lyric Fest’s entire season. The Lyric Fest song series presents concerts so varied that I can’t possibly pick one out and recommend it in advance. They’ve been doing this for more than ten years, with programs that feature every kind of vocal music from rarefied art songs to Broadway show tunes, and they haven’t put on a bad show yet. (Oct. 14, Nov. 18, Jan. 25-27, Mar. 3, May 5 at Center City venues. lyricfest.org.)
The Kimmel Center Presents the Black Watch and the Band of the Scots Guards. This may not be classical music, strictly speaking. Some folks claim it isn’t even music. But we all have our weaknesses. (January 11. www.kimmelcenter.org.)
My fondness for military music serves a practical function, incidentally: It gives me a comeback when popular music fanatics scold me as narrow-minded because I don’t listen to rock, rap and other forms produced for mass audiences. As I see it, any taste that spans seven centuries and ranges from Debussy to regimental bagpipe music covers as much territory as a single finite human consciousness can encompass.
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