Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Conductors

POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2010, 10:50 AM

“Formalities must be shattered to open up classical music to a younger audience.”

So says conductor Vladimir Jurowski, who conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Friday night at the Roundhouse in Camden (the Camden across the pond, that is, not the one across the river).

"It will be the first in a season of 'rules-free' concerts that allow audiences to talk, drink and move about in non-seated areas as they would at a rock gig," reports the London Evening Standard.

POSTED: Sunday, December 20, 2009, 9:26 AM

In case your snow-thwarted paper carrier prevented you from being able to read an update on the Philadelphia Orchestra's music director search, here's the latest.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 11:14 AM

As the list of possible future music directors for the Philadelphia Orchestra remains dangerously short, the young Montrealer Yannick Nézet-Séguin returns for a second visit to the podium this week. I can't decide which is more worrisome at this point in the process - the possibility that the orchestra will take a big chance on an unproven talent, or the very real likelihood that the person offered the job will say no.

That said, I'm not sold on Nézet-Séguin, even if his stock is high. Industry sources say he will soon be announced as the Metropolitan Opera's new principal guest conductor. Even if that doesn't pan out, his career has clearly clicked, with major guest appearances all over in the near future.

Meanwhile, the orchestra still has said nothing publicly about its search criteria. Does it want the best possible conductor? A box-office star? A good fund-raiser? About the only time anyone publicly mentioned a specific desired quality was during the orchestra's annual meeting in September, when one board member said the organization was aiming for someone "young." Strange, isn't it - the idea of a major orchestra, one that hopes to affirm its place as one of the world's best, saying that age matters?


POSTED: Monday, November 16, 2009, 6:49 AM

Ignat Solzhenitsyn is stepping down as music director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. This will be his last season with the group, and then he'll become laureate. He became music director of the group in 2004 after working his way up from the assistant conductor position starting in 1994.

The Chamber Orchestra is expcted today to announce Dirk Brossé (pictured) as his successor.

The Belgian-born Brossé has been a frequent guest here, and is currently on the 50-city Star Wars in Concert tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also guest conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic, l’Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande and others.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 7:14 AM
Filed Under: Conductors

Leonard Slatkin "sort of" collapsed in his dressing room while guesting with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and is recovering in a Rotterdam hospital after a stent procedure, the Detroit Free Press reports. The 65-year-old music director of the Detroit Symphony has canceled performances in the coming weeks, but could return to the podium in Detroit as soon as the end of November.

POSTED: Saturday, October 31, 2009, 7:55 AM

One more chance to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra in incredible form - tonight. Here's a review.

POSTED: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 11:10 AM
JoAnn Falletta conducting the Curtis orchestra Tuesday night, with concertmaster Joel Link. Photo: David DeBalko

This review is scheduled to run in the physical version of The Inquirer Friday.

Nights like the one the Curtis Institute of Music had Tuesday — in which everything is going right and everyone in the room seems to feel it — are dear in the life of arts institutions, especially in tough times. The Curtis orchestra, in its first concert of the season, played with a magnificent assuredness. Much of the city’s arts and civic leadership was in Verizon Hall, buzzing about the school’s new dorm and orchestra rehearsal hall quickly taking shape a few blocks away.
And you couldn’t help noticing that while all this spoke gamely of the future, in the audience were teachers such as Eleanor Sokoloff, charismatic Curtis piano pedagogue for nearly 75 years and living evidence that its new leadership still values the conservatory’s lineage.
Of course, none of this would have mattered had the level of playing not been so high. JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, brought clarity to the Violin Concerto of Behzad Ranjbaran, order to Strauss’ Don Juan, and, to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, a surprising and lucid reanimation.
I never tire of hearing Sheherazade, in part since I don’t hear it much anymore. Once a staple, it now shows up less often in concert halls. The work’s youthful narrative is ideally suited to this orchestra; it asks for virtuosity, and the ensemble repays it in the form of ecstasy.
Falletta’s interpretation was self-effacing. She provided a stable framework of tempos, occasionally veering away for expressive purposes, but mostly leaving individuality to unfold in the dozens of instrumental solos. William Short was not merely technically all there in the work’s famous dancerly bassoon solo, but also highly individual in a way that would be notable even in a professional setting. Clarinetist Ruokai Chen placed a subtle elongation in tempo at the top of a run, transforming an excerpt lick into an artistic statement. All throughout the piece, concertmaster Joel Link, a fourth-year student, projected warmth and stability in notoriously treacherous solos.
Don Juan had great structure, though in the details was perhaps slightly prim and proper for the subject at hand. But Falletta was just right in Ranjbaran’s Violin Concerto. The Tehran-born Juilliard composer might be thought of as music’s magical realist. In this work — as well as in his "Persian Trilogy" — a passage can be going along at midlevel dissonance when, as if a light suddenly refracted, the orchestration turns lustrous and the harmonies seductive. You might hear film scoring in his sound. The composer himself identifies Persian modes and rhythms as inspiration, as well as the kamancheh, a traditional Persian bowed instrument.
But for the soloist, the more relevant cousins in the repertoire to this 2003 work are Barber and Korngold, whose spirit Elissa Lee Koljonen evoked in the formidable passage work. Koljonen, a 1994 Curtis graduate who studied with Aaron Rosand, is also Mrs. Roberto Diaz, wife of the director of Curtis, but her appearance on this program was no concession to family ties. She is apart from all her connections a violinist of immense presence. Technique is a given, but with a purpose. Case in point: the many fleeting moments of bending pitch and changing tone for expressive purposes. This was a knowing audience, so it might have detected her exquisite timing and precision. Or perhaps all it sensed was a violinist of considerable soul.

- Peter Dobrin
 

POSTED: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 6:41 AM

It's apparently finally done. Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic have penned a deal keeping him there through 2018. For how many weeks per year, we do not know.

What was the hold up? The AP story doesn't say.

Rattle's signing had been predicted by the Philharmonic before - and repeatedly over a period of many months - after a mysterious and confusing moment in which the orchestra wasn't sure whether it wanted to keep him.

About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at pdobrin@phillynews.com.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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