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Composer Edward Elgar said that “there is music in the air, music all around us. The world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.” Well, summer is truly upon us—and there is indeed music all around us. Here are a handful of free offerings, ranging from opera to hip-hop and from the piano keyboard to giant bells. Just take your pick!
OperaDelaware: Pop-Up Opera
Friday, July 7, 6pm
The Green, 3rd and South Streets, Old New Castle
A company that doesn’t stand still, OperaDelaware takes its fully equipped Mobile Opera Stage throughout the region all year long. But it’s especially welcome in the summertime, and on Friday, July 7, they’ll be making their fifth visit to Old New Castle, Delaware. Just south of Wilmington, it’s one of the earliest settlements on the Eastern Seaboard and a perfect spot for an evening of music. The concert will be on the Green, right in the historic center of this beautiful Delaware River town. It’s free—just bring your chair or blanket!
Carillon Concerts at Longwood Gardens
Friday, July 7 and 21, 6pm
Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
In Longwood Gardens on certain summer evenings, you might hear bells, but it’s not your imagination. Inside the fairy-tale-like stone Chimes Tower is the 62-bell Longwood Carillon. On Friday, July 7, Laura Ellis comes north from Florida to play music that ranges from Willy Wonka to Lou Reed. And on Friday, July 21, Californian Annie Gao plays a more classical program of early music transcriptions and Schubert, with a little Harold Arlen thrown in. There are also concerts on August 11 and 18 and into the fall on September 1 and 8, all Fridays. Guests are welcome to bring blankets and chairs and place them in the turf area across from the tower.
At 1pm on Sundays in July, they offer Chimes Tower Hours, when you can climb to the top and see this largest of instruments.
Black Metropolis: Improvisations on Paint Factory
Wednesday, July 19, 8pm
Mann Center, TD Pavilion, 5201 Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia
This concert is a celebratory shout-out to hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. Conducted by Jonathan Taylor Rush, the Philadelphia Orchestra and West Philadelphia rapper Chill Moody will perform Darin Atwater's Black Metropolis: Improvisations on Paint Factory, which “explores the pillars of hip-hop and Black culture through an architecture of sound.” The evening also features rappers, DJs, and choirs. The original Paint Factory premiered in 2007 with Atwater’s Soulful Symphony, a 75-member orchestra predominantly featuring people of color. While many themes remain in this new iteration, this is a new work in partnership with the Mann’s Artist-in-Residence Chill Moody. For this free concert, registration is required for entry and seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis.
Opera Philadelphia Channel
If you’re staying cool by staying indoors, Opera Philadelphia has a yummy summer treat. They’ve just uploaded three operas from their ambitious series of short world premier digital commissions—a series that’s garnered critical acclaim—and you can view them for free! PAPER TIGER by Yaz Lancaster, TakTakShoo by Rene Orth, and Cycles of My Being by Tyshawn Sorey are available to stream either on the company’s website or on YouTube.
Philadelphia Young Pianists Academy Competition and Concerts
July 29-August 6, 2023
Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia
For a week, there will be a plethora of pianists both rising and accomplished at Academy of Vocal Arts for this major keyboard event. Piano faculty includes Michael Lewin, Alon Goldstein, Ching-Yun Hu, and Jerome Lowenthal—all of whom will play concerts and also open their 14 master classes to audiences. These events, and the Winners Concert on Sunday, August 6, are all ticketed. But there are free concerts August 2-3 that showcase these young artists in the competition’s preliminary and final rounds, though you’ll need to sign up and reserve a seat for these.
Above: Hip-hop artist Chill Moody (left) and composer Darin Atwater at the Mann Center. (Photo courtesy of the Mann.)
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