Com­ing up in Philly Music: Stream­ing Cur­tis Institute’s 2021 Grad­u­a­tion Recitals

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Violinist Claire Bourg will perform her recital on April 30. (Photo by Pete Checchia.)
Violinist Claire Bourg will perform her recital on April 30. (Photo by Pete Checchia.)

The Curtis Institute of Music has conventional graduations with prominent speakers and diplomas like other schools, but its traditions include a ritual that is much less common. Every graduating student presents a final recital in front of the discriminating, musically knowledgeable audience that attends Curtis’s student recitals throughout the season.

Pomp and circumstance

The students normally present their graduation recitals in Curtis’s small, fabled hall. This year, because of the pandemic, recitals are pre-recorded from sites all over the world and can be streamed on-demand. Curtis posted the first 2021 graduation recital on April 6, and it will be posting a dozen more between now and Tuesday, May 18. The instruments include the violin, the viola, the cello, the piano, the horn, and the guitar. The composers include most of the musical giants who created the classical repertory and steadily increased the technical challenges music students have to master.

For most of these students, their graduation really is a commencement. Curtis is a small school with about 175 students, but it’s been attracting top students from all over the world ever since it became a tuition-free school shortly after its founding in 1924. Over ninety percent of the students who play graduation recitals go on to lifelong careers in music, filling the ranks of major orchestras and adding a notable number of stars to the international concert circuit.

What, When, Where, and Accessibility

The Curtis Institute of Music presents its 2021 Graduation Recitals online, with new on-demand performances premiering Tuesdays and Fridays through Tuesday, May 18. The streams are free and are also available on YouTube.

Image Description: A low-angled shot of Claire Bourg, a young woman in a blue dress, as she plays violin in a warmly lit room.

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