Rebellion - cheerful, languid, or seething - was the underlying theme of Marin Alsop's guest-conducting engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra in ways that skirted some of the more inciting possibilities, but that arrived with blinding clarity in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. The added subtle twist Thursday at the Kimmel Center was how this Russian music turned a mirror back on American listeners.
Is it possible to create a "tempesta" in the spartan acoustical environs of the American Philosophical Society on Saturday? Usually, one hears the baroque orchestra Tempesta di Mare in churchier acoustics suitable to the smaller sounds made by their historically responsible performances. And those smaller sounds seemed all the more slender in the "Zimmermann's Coffeehouse" program of popular Bach pieces that are generally heard in more mainstream orchestral performances.
Once considered a charming pursuit for part-time musicians, choral organizations are virtuosically redefining a number of vanguards, and they were bound to do so in Philadelphia if only because they're so portable and artistically singular.
David Patrick Stearns is a classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.