Othalie Graham's Philadelphia Orchestra debut

The dramatic soprano Othalie Graham will perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the first time on June 27, singing solo and with the chorale during Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Mann Music Center.

"It's wonderful to be able to make your debut with one of the greatest orchestras in the world, and to do so with such glorious music is thrilling," says Graham, an Academy of Vocal Arts graduate who has sung professionally for more than a decade. Her upcoming engagements include a performance with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on October11.


Although I've never heard Othalie onstage, I do know her as a person. When our mutual friend, the classical music critic Robert Baxter, was losing his battle with cancer in 2010, Othalie was a deeply loving presence. She brought him such comfort!

"At the very beginning of my career, Robert was the first (critic) to support me," Graham says. "He understood my voice immediately. It's incredibly sad he won't be there."

But a certain friend of Robert's, a newspaper columnist whose taste in music runs more to rock than classical, will be in the house -- with ears, and heart, open.