A Haydn happy hour

Philadelphia Orchestra presents Orchestra After 5: Haydn and Mozart

3 minute read
Two performers in all black formal wear cheers with the host also holding a mic at a small table on stage.
Orchestra After 5 returns with the April edition on Thursday. (Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra.)

Philadelphia Orchestra concerts appeal to a wide cross-section of audience members, but the traditional concert experience doesn’t necessarily suit every walk of life. Weekday matinees work wonderfully for freelancers, retirees, and students, but they’re a no-go for folks on a nine-to-five schedule. Weekend concerts suit city dwellers well but may be less practical for commuters. And late evening concerts could leave people focusing on catching their train or relieving the babysitter more than the music itself.

Enter Orchestra After 5, a new series that aims to provide a more casual and accessible concert-going experience. These performances feature members of the Orchestra and the same world-class soloists who appear on subscription programs, but in a lighter, more flexible context.

A happier hour

The events, starting at 5pm, feature fun activities in the lobby, including happy hours, DJ sets, and scavenger hunts. The concert proper begins at 6:30pm in Verizon Hall and lasts roughly an hour. (By contrast, an average subscription program can run between 90 minutes and two-and-a-half hours, depending on the repertoire.) By the time that a standard concert would begin at 8pm, spectators are well on their way home.

The next Orchestra After 5 program will be held on Thursday, April 4, featuring the renowned pianist and conductor Sir András Schiff playing Haydn and Mozart concertos. Tristan Rais-Sherman, an assistant conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra, will serve as the evening’s host.

“This is something I am so excited about,” Rais-Sherman said in an interview. “This is what I think my main mission is as a conductor and classical musician: to appeal to people around my age who have never been to an orchestral concert, for whom orchestral concerts are not on their radar. The experience is enriched by the pre-concert activities, and the whole thing is supposed to be fun, engaging, and short.”

Less hustle, more bustle

In his role as host, Rais-Sherman will contextualize the program and provide perspective for listeners who may be unfamiliar with the music. “I will do a really condensed version of a pre-concert lecture from the stage,” he said. “My goal for these talks is not so much to tell you about the music but to explain the world around the music where it was created. What were the big ideas of the time that are infused in the music? For this one coming up, we have Haydn and Mozart, so I’m going to talk a lot about the Enlightenment and the radical new ideas that led to the American Revolution and French Revolution.”

The first Orchestra After 5 concert was held in February. Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra performed selections from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s tango-infused The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. Rais-Sherman knew they had a hit on their hands when he peeked his head in the lobby before the show began.

“We had tango dancers and a tango band playing, and I had never seen the lobby so busy and buzzing,” he said. “It was absolutely packed. People were dancing, talking, and enjoying themselves, having snacks and drinks. It was really exciting to see that kind of energy in the lobby.”

Rais-Sherman hopes that these concerts will work to demystify the classical music experience, while still communicating the power of this great art form. “Once the music begins, it’s just like any of our other concerts, really,” he said. “If you come back to one of our regular subscription concerts, you’re still going to have that same energy in the hall.”

What, When, Where

Orchestra After 5: Haydn and Mozart. Philadelphia Orchestra. Thursday, April 4, 2024, at Verizon Hall, 300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. (215) 893-1999 or philorch.org.

Accessibility

The Kimmel Center is wheelchair accessible from the entrances on Broad Street and Spruce Street. Accessible seating is available throughout Verizon Hall. All restrooms on all levels are accessible. A limited number of ADA-compliant accessible parking spaces are available in the underground garage on a first-come, first-served basis. Wheelchair-accessible elevators are located in the garage. For hearing-impaired patrons, assistive listening devices are available, with a deposit of a valid ID, at the Kimmel Center’s coat check desk. Find out more online.

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