On The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert - a new weekly radio series on WRTI - Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin takes to the podium to conduct a symphony by one of the composers who is closest to him. WRTI’s Jim Cotter has more.
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.
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.
We're happy to announce that this Sunday, February 24th, from 2 to 4 pm, marks the premiere of The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert weekly radio series on WRTI. Join us to hear our Fabulous Philadelphians in a live concert recording from October, 2012, featuring Bernstein’s Serenade, Brahms’s Symphony No. 4, and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Concertino Cusqueno. Violinist Joshua Bell is soloist. Gregg Whiteside is producer and host.
Gabriela Lena Frank speaks with WRTI's Gregg Whiteside about her inspiration for composing Concertino Cusqueno, and how she felt when she first heard the piece performed.
“I am so proud that The Philadelphia Orchestra is returning to the radio as part of my first season as music director,” says Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “It is important for us to go beyond the concert hall with our music - to connect with our audiences on the radio and online, here in Philadelphia and now also far beyond. This is just one of many ways we will open new windows into our music to welcome new listeners into our Philadelphia Orchestra family.”
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a long and venerable history of radio broadcasts, as the first orchestra with its own commercially sponsored national radio series, beginning in 1929 on NBC. The Orchestra is also widely known for its innovative use of technology aimed at bringing the concert-hall experience to listeners everywhere.
“We are delighted - in this our 60th anniversary year - to bring concert broadcasts of The Philadelphia Orchestra to listeners in our region and throughout the world,” says WRTI General Manager Dave Conant. “It is part of our mission, as a public radio station, to share this music with the community and also deepen the connection we all have with the Orchestra.”
Broadcasts can be heard weekly on Sundays from 2 to 4 pm beginning on February 24th in Philadelphia (90.1 FM); Reading (97.7 FM); Allentown (97.1 FM); Wilmington (107.7 FM); Harrisburg (91.7 FM); York (90.7 FM); Lancaster, Ephrata, and Lebanon (90.7 FM); Mt. Pocono (91.1 FM); Wilkes-Barre (94.9 FM); Pottsville (99.1 FM); Scranton (106.1 FM); Ocean City (91.3 FM); and Coatesville (89.3 FM). Each broadcast will also be available on WRTI's classical web stream at wrti.org
February 24th Broadcast Program:
Gabriela Lena Frank - Concertino Cusqueño (world premiere) Bernstein - Serenade (after Plato's Symposium) INTERMISSION Brahms - Symphony No. 4
Yannick Nézet-Séguin - Conductor Joshua Bell - Violin
Violinist Joshua Bell performs Bernstein's lyrical Serenade, inspired by the great Greek philosophers and their testimonies on love and romance. The second half of the program features the Fourth Symphony of Brahms, long a favorite of Philadelphia audiences, known for its expressive melodies and rich harmonies. To open the program, Gabriela Lena Frank composes a celebratory new work--commissioned for the inaugural concerts of the Orchestra's new music director. Her music often reflects her diverse heritage from Peru, China, and Lithuania.
We're happy to announce our new Philadelphia Orchestra Broadcast Series - one example of what your support provides. You've probably heard recordings of the "Fabulous Philadelphians" on WRTI, and know what a tremendous orchestra we have here in Philadelphia. And if you've been lucky enough to hear them live, there can be no doubt that you know that we're blessed with one of the finest orchestras in the world. We believe that all our listeners should have the opportunity to experience Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Fabulous Philadelphians firsthand.
What a treat! Tune in today to hear a performance described as "phenomenal" by The New York Times. It's a re-broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra's recent concert at Carnegie Hall, recorded live on Jan. 17th. Today from 2 to 5 pm.
The hardest working people in show business, at least in the classical music world, can take a bow this week. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, data on the busiest conductors and orchestras in 2012 shows The Philadelphia Orchestra maintaining its place in the top 10 ensembles, while the most active conductor began his professional career in the Philadelphia region.
The survey was undertaken by the website BachTrack.com, which found that for the third year in a row, Beethoven was the most performed of all composers with Arvo Part the most performed living composer.
Predictably, Mozart and Bach came in 2nd and 3rd, but it was not a good year for Mahler who slipped from 9th to 25th - and Liszt who fell from the 6th to the 24th. Their places in the top 10 were taken by Debussy and Schumann.
The busiest conductor in the world last year was Alan Gilbert whose first music directorship appointment was with Camden’s Symphony in C in the early 1990s. The orchestra he currently directs, the New York Philharmonic, was also, not surprisingly the busiest orchestra in the world, taking over the top spot from the San Francisco Symphony. The Philadelphia Orchestra came in at 9th; slipping one place from last year.
In repertoire, the top three most-performed operas were all by Mozart - two of which had librettos by the one-time Pennsylvania resident Lorenzo Da Ponte. The Magic Flute was at number one followed by Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro.
And finally, the most-performed works in 2012 were, in ascending order: 3) Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, 2) Bruckner's Symphony No. 4, and in the top spot, 1) Handel's Messiah.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:15 pm
Violinist Leonidas Kavakos is something of a musician's musician in the classical world. He's a favorite among his collaborators: He's the artist in residence this season at the Berlin Philharmonic, and as a soloist/conductor, he's worked with ensembles ranging from the Boston Symphony to the Budapest Festival Orchestra.
From the perspective of U.S. audiences, the British pianist Imogen Cooper was a late bloomer. Though this student of Alfred Brendell had been working steadily in the UK for decades, she was in her 50s before America became aware of this most eloquent interpreter of the classical repertoire.
Listeners may not think about the visuals in an orchestra concert, but body language is an important way in which musicians communicate with one another. From his chair, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim leads Mozart’s Serenade in G Major: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik the way it would have been done in Mozart’s time, without a conductor, on January 10th, 11th, and 12th in concerts at the Kimmel Center.