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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: October, 2011

POSTED: Friday, October 21, 2011, 9:05 AM

Some musicians express their deepest thoughts through playing. Others have a gift for beautifully articulating in words what they do and why they do it. Both qualities happen to reside in pianist Jonathan Biss, who performs Beethoven Sunday with the orchestra of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he once studied and now teaches.

We interviewed Biss this summer at his studio in New York in preparation for a multi-faceted project we're preparing on Curtis. Tentatively called "The Curtis Factor," the project involves a series of articles, plus an online video documentary and other elements. It's planned for launch in late fall, and here is an excerpt from our talk with Biss.

For more, see the pianist's website, which has some lovely clips from recordings, as well as his thoughts on various works and composers.


POSTED: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 10:24 PM

UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. Thursday: Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra have voted to accept the offer of a new contract (terms below).

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Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra are expected Thursday to give their yea or nay on a deeply concessionary four-year contract.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 4:37 PM

Even before details have been revealed on a new labor contract for Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, the national pension fund representing about 50,000 U.S. musicians says it opposes the contract because it ends the Association's participation in the pension fund.

"...in light of the trustees’ responsibility under federal pension law, the Fund currently sees no alternative to litigation to protect the interests of all of its participating musicians, both in Philadelphia and all over the country," said Alan Raphael, co-chair of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers Pension Fund.

In a statement, the Fund said "an agreement reached by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association is the culmination of a strategy to avoid its obligation to pay the Fund contributions of up to $35 million it owes for benefits earned by its musicians."

POSTED: Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 3:42 PM

You're spending all your time in bankruptcy court or in labor talks with your musicians. But you plan an opening night concert anyway. Your stagehands go on strike. Then they're back. Or are they? You're not sure. So you move your opening night concert across town. And the fancy dinner. Then your soprano cancels.

Welcome to the opening of the Philadelphia Orchestra's 2011-12 season. It happens not on home turf at the Kimmel Center, but at the University of Pennsylvania's Irvine Auditorium, Thursday night. Deborah Voigt has agreed to perform in Dawn Upshaw's stead. Now it's time to think good thoughts and hope nothing else goes wrong on the way to opening night. And to wonder: can you protect a soprano in bubble wrap?

POSTED: Monday, October 10, 2011, 7:04 AM
POSTED: Thursday, October 6, 2011, 10:23 AM

Rather than waiting for the outcome of upcoming talks between the Kimmel Center and IATSE, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is canceling its October concerts.

The orchestra announced Thursday morning that it looked for, but could find, an alternate venue for the Oct. 16 and 17 concerts with conductor Mischa Santora and pianist Rustem Hayroudinoff in the Perelman Theater.

The Kimmel and the union representing its stagehands, ushers, box office and wardrobe workers went on an 18-hour strike last weekend before declaring a "cooling off" period in talks for a new contract. Negotiations are expected to begin next week. The chamber orchestra's rehearsals were to have begun Oct. 12.

POSTED: Thursday, October 6, 2011, 4:22 PM

Management and musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra Thursday announced a tentative agreement for a new labor contract, but don’t lift a glass of opening-night champagne just yet.

A “host of minor issues” remained to be worked out in the 200-page labor pact, Philadelphia Orchestra Association lawyer Lawrence G. McMichael said in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Thursday.

“The process of getting though the minutiae” is ongoing, and a deal is expected to be in the hands of musicians to consider in the next day or so, McMichael told Judge Eric L. Frank.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 4, 2011, 2:56 PM

A possible resolution to the main objective in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s chapter 11 bankruptcy case could emerge as soon as Wednesday as management and labor try to hammer out a deal under the supervision of a U.S. Bankruptcy judge.

But if a new contract does not include continued participation in the national musicians’ pension fund, the fund will begin litigation involving donors and board members, fund leaders say.

Sources reported “some movement” in talks Sunday and Monday under the supervision of Stephen Raslavich, chief judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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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