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POSTED: Saturday, January 19, 2013, 10:32 AM

From the New York Times' review of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Carnegie Hall concert this week:

"The ovation was enormous. The orchestra has come through rough times, including a financial crisis and a leadership vacuum. But the Philadelphia Orchestra seems to have found its ideal music director, though Mr. Nézet-Séguin will have to balance his commitment to Philadelphia with his international ambitions."

Read the rest here.

POSTED: Friday, January 18, 2013, 3:56 PM

Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Friday night preview performance of The Mountaintop was canceled after local 8 of the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees called a stagehand strike.

Work rules and economic issues were in dispute for 27 newly organized union members handling scenery, lights, sound and props at the theater, according to local 8 business agent Michael Barnes.

But a noon meeting produced significant progress, he said.

POSTED: Thursday, January 17, 2013, 1:24 PM

It’s not the restoration of a national radio presence, but the Philadelphia Orchestra will return to regional radio under the terms of a new deal with WRTI-FM.

Starting Feb. 24 and through the end of the season, the Temple University station will begin airing a series of regular Sunday afternoon delayed broadcasts of Philadelphia Orchestra concerts.

Broadcasts will run between Feb. 24 and the end of the 2012-13 season, with re-broadcasts over the summer. The series is expected to resume next season, said David S. Conant, WRTI’s general manager.

POSTED: Thursday, January 10, 2013, 12:50 PM

Simon Rattle will step down from his Berlin Philharmonic music director post in 2018, the New York Times reports.

“As a Liverpool boy, it is impossible not to think of the Beatles’ question, ‘Will you still need me when I’m 64?’” Mr. Rattle, 57, said in a statement, noting that he will be stepping down just before he reaches that age. “I am sure that then it will be time for somebody else to take on the magnificent challenge that is the Berliner Philharmoniker."

No word at the moment about whether Rattle plans to take on directorship of any other orchestra, but he's always been a careful career strategist, and it's safe to assume that he already sees his next assignment on the horizon.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 3:00 PM

Curtis Institute of Music vice president and dean John R. Mangan has resigned, school officials said.

Mangan, 47, who held the post for 3½ years, declined to speak about his reasons for leaving the conservatory, referring a reporter to Curtis' press office.

"John resigned on Jan. 4 indicating that, as Curtis prepares for the next strategic phase of its future, he made the decision to step down," said a spokeswoman. "He plans to explore other opportunities in his field."

POSTED: Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 10:36 AM
7Days16: Cellists Derek Barnes (left) and Ohad Bar-David and the Philadelphia Orchestra performs "The Glorious Sound of Christmas" at the Kimmel Center 12/20-22. Credit: Michael T. Regan

If notes on staves were New Year’s greetings, the Philadelphia Orchestra sailed a sheaf full of good wishes out into Verizon Hall Monday night. At what he told a sold-out crowd was “the biggest party in town,” Yannick Nézet-Séguin led a program that, Janus-like, glanced back at a year of “great moments and maybe not so great moments,” but looked forward, too.

Everyone knew what he meant. Never uttered was the word “bankruptcy,” but by forming a first half of the program with Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony and music from Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, the orchestra’s music director put sound to his aspirations, and, hopefully, the city’s as well. Goodbye to talk of lawsuits and weighing the orchestra as a going concern, and hello to a silvery bloom. The suite from Strauss’ opera suggests nostalgia, but, more than that, it is gilded with the possibilities of transformation.

Comedy broke out in the Haydn. The composer choreographed the piece as a way of telling his patron that the musicians needed a break, but the Philadelphians added their own gestures as each finished his or her part and exited the stage even while the music continued. Some embraced, while one – perhaps in a gentle rebuke of audience etiquette breaches over the years – pantomimed a cell phone call. Nézet-Séguin left before his last two players, which had the audience in stitches and kept the last wisps of the piece from being heard.

POSTED: Monday, December 24, 2012, 10:48 PM
Copyright, John Ashmead Estate

When he wasn't reporting for The Bulletin, teaching English at Haverford College or lecturing in Japan on a Fulbright, John Ashmead was taking photographs. Ashmead died in 1992 at age 74, and lately his daughter Theodora Wheeler Ashmead has been posting many of his photographs on Facebook, including this one, taken at Broad and Chestnut Streets sometime in the 1950s or '60s.

ArtsWatch is grateful to Theodora for allowing use of the photograph to help wish readers a peaceful city Christmas.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 1:14 PM

The great Russian singer Galina Vishnevskaya has died, the New York Times reports. The widow of cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich died Monday in Moscow at the age of 86.

She performed for 23 years at the Bolshoi and also spent some time at the Met. Tagged as "ideological renegades," Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya were stripped of their citizenship by the Soviet government. The couple had allowed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to live in their country home in the late '60s and early '70s.

Some Philadelphians may remember when she and Rostropovich had a presence at the Curtis Institute of Music - him leading the orchestra, and she conducting master classes. Vishnevskaya was a visiting voice teacher for the school from 1991 to 1997.

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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