Music in the garden, Marian Anderson Hall, The Crossing’s Month of Moderns, and more

BSR Classical Interludes: June 2024

4 minute read
Side by side on a white field, the book covers for Verdi with a Vengeance, Puccini without Excuses, and Wagner without Fear.
(Images via Penguin Random House.)

The summer is here, and so for June we have a month-long indoor festival and outdoor concerts in some striking natural locales. Two Philly groups, one focused on early music and one on music that’s as new as can be, are closing their seasons. And in honor of BSR Book Week, we bring you three musical volumes that will expand your knowledge while tickling your funny bone.

First, our books! The irrepressible Will Berger has written three very witty (and indispensably erudite) guides to opera: Verdi with a Vengeance, Puccini without Excuses, and Wagner without Fear. He’s long been a radio commentator and source of on-air information for NYC’s Metropolitan Opera, so his bona fides are impeccable. His terrifically insightful prose is also often downright laugh-out-loud funny, illuminating things you never realized you wanted to know about opera. On his website you can also find Seeking the Sublime Cache, a collection of his articles and presentations. And just so you’ll appreciate his musical range, he’s also a devotee of heavy metal!

On to June music:

Serafin Summer Music

June 4 through 23 (Fridays at 7 pm and Sundays at 5pm)
Music School of Delaware/Concert Hall, 4101 N. Washington Street, Wilmington.

Returning for another season, this four-week music festival led by violinist Kate Ransom features 16 regional, national, and international musicians in the wide array of artists, composers, and instrumental combinations that has become a hallmark of this early summer series. The festival’s featured highlights are its Week One concerts with Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cellist of the Eroica Trio.

The Dedication of Marian Anderson Hall

Friday, June 8 at 2 pm: Dedication ceremony
Kimmel Center Plaza, 300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia.

Friday, June 8 at 8pm: Great Stages Concert
Marian Anderson Hall, 300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia.

In an afternoon ceremony on June 8, Ensemble Arts Philly will formally rededicate the former Verizon Hall to the great Marian Anderson. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra will open the ceremony with a special performance, followed by remarks and the unveiling of the new Marian Anderson Hall sign. RSVP here.

Photo collage of a headshot of each artist in black-and-white tones.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Queen Latifah, Marcus Roberts, Audra McDonald, Angel Blue, and Latonia Moore will appear onstage at the Kimmel Center’s newly rededicated Marian Anderson Hall. (Image courtesy of Ensemble Arts Philly.)

Then a special evening concert celebrates the newly inaugurated hall. Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Philadelphia Orchestra and guest stars including vocalists Audra McDonald and Angel Blue, jazz pianist Marcus Roberts, and Queen Latifah. Repertoire is all connected to Anderson, including “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” and a special orchestration of Florence Price’s arrangement of “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord”, both sung by Anderson during her April 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert after she was denied the opportunity to sing at DC’s Constitution Hall because of her race. The evening also includes the world premiere of Valerie Coleman’s Fanfare for Marian, commissioned by the orchestra. This is a ticketed concert.

The Franklin Quartet – Nomadic Rhapsodies

Sunday, June 9 at 3pm
Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont, 1116 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr.

Rescheduled from earlier in the year, the season finale for this early music ensemble—Karen Dekker and Marika Holmqvist (violins), Daniel Elyar (viola), and cellist Rebecca Humphrey—visits the musical world of the Ottoman Turks and Romani. Western European composers brought this music (branded as “exotic”) into their works, and the quartet notes that “as alluring as those [fleeting musical moments] might be, they don’t exist without controversy.” The ensemble will explore this in string quartets by Haydn and Dittersdorf that are interspersed with traditional Hungarian and Armenian folk tunes.

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia – Orchestra in the Garden, Water Music

Thursday, June 13
Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia.

Saturday, June 15 at 7pm
Stoneleigh, 1829 County Line Road, Villanova.

This ensemble’s outdoor summer concerts are always a great way to start the season. To open their 60th anniversary, conductor Nathan Loftan will lead the orchestra in a program that includes Handel’s much-loved Water Music Suite No. 3, Telemann’s Water Music Overture, “Dido’s Lament” by Purcell, and Montgomery’s “Five Freedom Songs”. Acclaimed soprano Michelle Johnson, grand-prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and AVA alumna, joins the orchestra in two iconic but remarkably different garden settings. Audiences are welcome to arrive an hour before to picnic or enjoy the gardens.

The Crossing’s Month of Moderns

Each year in June, this remarkable Philadelphia ensemble presents their “Month of Moderns”, although their concerts always feature new works. Both of these are at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia.

Not So Much Watching as Waiting
Saturday, June 15 at 5pm

This first concert in the series features two of their favorite commissioned works: Robert Maggio’s The Woman Where We are Living (for harp and choir) and Stacy Garrop’s In a House Besieged (for organ and choir). The two concerts also explore works that Gabriel Jackson has composed for the ensemble over his 12-years relationship with the choir. Guest artists are Elizabeth Steiner (harp) and organist Scott Dettra. There is a pre-concert talk at 4pm.

Prairie in Our Backyard (Inside Edition)
Thursday, June 27 at 7pm

The second June offering features a bricolage of nine works by six composers who offer personal world views from their widely varying backgrounds, spanning Riga to Chicago to London to Brooklyn to our home, Philadelphia: Ayanna Woods, Joseph C. Phillips Jr., Santa Ratniece, Gabriel Jackson, Eriks Esenvalds (Ancient Prairie), and Kile Smith’s Jerusalem.

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