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.
Nobody ever said Orchestra 2001 couldn't rock - a modern ensemble has to be able to do anything - but perhaps no previous program has challenged this group (a 10-player version) to prove it so vehemently as the one Sunday under guest conductor Jayce Ogren at the Arts Bank. Four composers were heard at their most raucous, in performances that displayed a controlled abandon seldom heard in new-music concerts.
David Patrick Stearns is a classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.