Com­ing up in Philly Music: Cham­ber Orches­tra presents Music of the Enlightenment’

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Friedrich Heinrich Kern guests with the Chamber Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia)
Friedrich Heinrich Kern guests with the Chamber Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia)

Last season, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia presented concerts that featured instruments from China, Africa and other non-Western cultures. This weekend, the Chamber Orchestra will spotlight an import from the Baroque. The guest soloist, Friedrich Heinrich Kern, is a virtuoso on the modern version of the glass harmonica—an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin.

Like water for chocolate

Franklin liked the “sweet” sound performers created when they rubbed glass bowls filled with water. He developed a mechanized version that could play several notes simultaneously and produced an instrument that attracted some of the leading composers of the period. Kern plays an updated version that can fill a modern hall with a bigger sound. His contributions to the program will include one of the classics for the instrument, Mozart’s Adagio and Rondo for glass harmonica and other instruments.

The music on the program all comes from the last years of the 18th Century—a time when composers like Mozart and C.P.E. Bach produced music noted for its elegance and charm. The conductor will be a Baroque specialist who’s also a local star. Jeffrey Brillhart is best known as an organist but he also conducts the Singing City chorus, teaches the art of organ improvisation at Yale, and enjoys a national career as an organist and conductor. For this concert, he’ll be doing some of his conducting from the harpsichord, in keeping with the customs of the period.

What, When, Where

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will present “Music of the Enlightenment” on Sunday, January 26 at 2:30pm and Monday, January 27 at 7:30pm at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are available online and at the door.

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