David Patrick Stearns

Arts Reporter

David Patrick Stearns is classical music critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer and arts reporter for WRTI's Creatively Speaking. He received his master's degree in musicology from New York University while working as music and theater critic for USA Today. He wrote the documentary film David Amram: The First 80 Years and is currently at work on two other documentaries. He is a frequent recording reviewer for the London-based magazine Gramophone. He is also a contributor to Opera News, The Guardian and Obit-Mag.com

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Creatively Speaking
6:03 am
Mon March 11, 2013

The Nearly Lost Generation Of Great Pianists From The Era of Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn on "What's My Line" in 1964

Pianist Van Cliburn's international fame landed him on the popular '50s and '60s television quiz show What's My Line? as a mystery guest - not a typical scenario for most classical artists.

In the wake of his death from cancer on Feb. 27th, the music world is reminded anew that winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 did him a world of good as well as a world of harm. Yet he wasn't the only one. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns looks at the somewhat lost generation that was Cliburn's pianistic contemporaries, including Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, and Byron Janis.

Creatively Speaking
2:47 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

The New, New Young Piano Stars

Niu Niu is the nickname for Zhang Sheng Liang, the young Chinese pianist who is on the rise.

Classical pianists just keep getting younger, and some are playing major engagements with The Philadelphia Orchestra before they're old enough to even take a legal drink.

These new young Turks are different from those of old, says The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns, because they’re making their names more from their brains and hearts rather than just their fingers.

Creatively Speaking
11:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Yannick Shares Highlights of The Philadelphia Orchestra 2013-14 Season

Yannick Nezet-Seguin has been dubbed The Philadelphia Orchestra's "Mighty Mouse" by Joyce DiDonato

His name is Yannick Nezet-Seguin, but in a New York Times profile recently, he was nicknamed "Mighty Mouse" by the opera star Joyce DiDonato.

After all, he's been saving the day for the recently distressed Philadelphia Orchestra. And, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports, he hopes to continue to do so in the upcoming 2013-2014 season.

Listen to a more detailed interview with Yannick about some of the highlights of The Philadelphia Orchestra's 2013-14 season.

Creatively Speaking
3:54 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Yannick's Rite

Chris Lee

Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin would seem to be taking The Philadelphia Orchestra back to 1930. That was the year the late Leopold Stokowski, heard here with the Depression-era Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite of Spring when it was first danced in the United States. But there’s nothing retrogressive in what New York’s cutting-edge Ridge Theater is cooking up for this week’s Rite with the Orchestra. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns is still guessing what it will look like.

The least-used spaces in Verizon Hall are….up in the air.

STEARNS: There’s much height to it. There are projection surfaces above the orchestra. Why not make that a playing space for the choreography as well?

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Vice President of Artistic Planning Jeremy Rothman is referring to the use of an aerialist. For that, he’s commandeering the hall for an entire week to set up the proper rigging. The production's winter-to-spring depiction will also have video projections on multiple screens and scrims, plus dancers. Though, not that many, says Nezet-Seguin.

NEZET-SEGUIN: There’s a few dancers but it’s not danced the whole thing, which was important for me.

Time and again, the conductor emphasizes that his orchestra is not going to get lost in a lot of theatrical bells and whistles. The huge Ridge Theater apparatus is there to serve the Orchestra. The conductor, not the dancers, will dictate tempos, says Rothman.

ROTHMAN:  Yannick is somewhat uncompromising about what he wants to present musically.

The Rite of Spring has been widely and wildly interpreted over the years, from tribal Russian dancers of the Joffrey Ballet to Paul Taylor’s film-noir version with gangsters. Just how far afield will this one go?  Is the ballet still about human sacrifice?

ROTHMAN: There is a sacrifice…the idea was to get back to the spirit of it…but rather than the …is to take the same spirit and update it with more modern means. But there’s still a sacrifice.

But there will NOT be blood when The Philadelphia Orchestra performs The Rite of Spring in a multi-media production at the Kimmel Center this week.
 

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s V.P. of Artistic Planning Jeremy Rothman talks about the role of video projections in the Orchestra's concerts this week with David Patrick Stearns.

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Creatively Speaking
4:14 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

One Of The Finest Pianists Of Her Generation: Calling It Quits

The acclaimed Maria Joao Pires announced that she will retire in 2014. The Philadelphia Inquirer's  David Patrick Stearns profiles the demure but exquisite Portuguese pianist.

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Creatively Speaking
11:03 am
Sat December 15, 2012

Alisa Weilerstein and The Elgar Cello Concerto: Her Way

David Patrick Stearns profiles American cellist Alisa Weilerstein. She’s in town to perform the iconic Elgar cello concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra this week.

Creatively Speaking
3:50 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Gianandrea Noseda Takes Philadelphia Orchestra Sound Back In Time

If anybody knows Rachmaninoff, it’s The Philadelphia Orchestra. The ensemble inspired the composer  to write his final orchestral work: the Symphonic Dances, and collaborated with him intensively until his death in 1943. Since then, the Orchestra has maintained an unbroken tradition of performing works by Rachmaninoff, from the eras of Eugene Ormandy through Charles Dutoit. 

The esteemed Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda, who has the trust and affection of the musicians from past guest engagements, recently conducted Rachmaninoff at the Kimmel Center. The conductor brought to these performances the rediscovery of a sound from which the orchestra has perhaps drifted. As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, Noseda may just about be out-Ormandying Eugene Ormandy.

Creatively Speaking
7:29 am
Sat December 1, 2012

The "Low Key" Approach Of The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Manfred Honeck

The Philadelphia Orchestra has a genteel rivalry with its illustrious neighbor to the west, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Though not among the"Big Five" American orchestras, Pittsburgh is certainly in that league. And then there were those neck-and-neck European tours where Pittsburgh had more, and classier, dates than Philadelphia.

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Creatively Speaking
10:07 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Pianist Seymour Lipkin: Still Scaling Artistic Heights

The Philadelphia Inquirer's ’s David Patrick Stearns profiles Seymour Lipkin, a pianist who - in his mid 80s -  is taking on Beethoven's massive Hammerklavier sonata, among other daunting musical feats.

A video of Mr. Lipkin playing Mozart:

Creatively Speaking
3:24 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

The Curtain Rises In Norristown

The Centre Theater in Norristown

The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns explores how Norristown is successfully modeling itself as a serious theater destination.

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