What the Philadelphia Orchestra needs to survive – and thrive

Detailed analysis of the problems of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and some ways forward by Peter Dobrin, culture writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Worth a read.

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Article on problems across the US in orchestras

Pithy and very good analysis from Philadelphia Inquirer culture writer Peter Dobrin about what’s going on with American orchestras and why, from Philadelphia to Indianapolis to Minnesota and Chicago. Written in the middle of Chicago Symphony Orchestra‘s 64-hour strike.

Saratoga week 2

Driving back to Saratoga (trying WordPress for iPad in the car) for the second week of concerts at the performing arts center among the pines and three concerts with Yannick Nézet-Séguin — his first appearances there, and the first time the actual music director has conducted there since Sawallisch in the nineties (not including Dutoit, who was MD of Saratoga before he became Chief Conductor of the orchestra).

I’ve been practicing the big stuff: Brahms 4, Higdon Concerto for Orchestra and The Wizard of Oz, which Yannick is not conducting! I am principal for that, so I have to get the bowings ready and figure out what I’m doing. The opera music will have to wait until I can pick up the pile of music tomorrow, but there wasn’t that much to look at compared to the rest of the week, just a question of knowing the arias and watching Yannick, who excels working with singers (well, not sure what he doesn’t excel at…)

Also, the Lang is playing Liszt 1 tomorrow night. Somehow I think he hasn’t played Saratoga before, although it seems improbable. The Dutoit years were more Stephen Hough, Martha Argerich, Bronfman, Horacio Gutierrez and of course de Larrocha.

I’m looking forward to the Brahms; it’ll be our second time playing it with Yannick since the opening night at Vail a month ago (also on one rehearsal).

Denève wows Saratoga

Stephane Denève, whose opening night (August 1) I missed, cemented his special connection with us and the Saratoga audience on Thursday and Friday, August 2 and 3. His American in Paris is the best I can remember with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and his Candide overture and Three Dance Episodes from On the Town were close behind. Jean-Yves Thibaudet wore amazing blue shoes for the rehearsal (sorry, no pictures) and played just as sparklingly but with great depth in both of Ravel’s piano concertos.

His last night he conducted a program of mostly John Williams while Cirque de la Symphonie performed with their usual artistry. Denève, who is only a couple of years older than I, talked about what it was like for him to conduct these pieces for the first time after they made such a huge impression on him as a teen — E.T., Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman as well as other numbers from Taras Bulba and North by Northwest.

But that American in Paris… it’s still with me. Oh, and the audience went nuts in a way I don’t remember happening in years up there.

Amazing conducting roster at Saratoga this August!

RSNO welcomes funding announcement for Glasgow...

RSNO welcomes funding announcement for Glasgow venues (Photo credit: Scottish Government)

7.IX - Gianandrea Noseda e l'Orchestra del Tea...

7.IX – Gianandrea Noseda e l’Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino (Photo credit: MITO SettembreMusica)

It’s going to be a great August at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center, with an unparalleled roster of top-flight podium talent. Stephane Denève conducted the opening night and 2 more concerts as well. Last night, August 4, we had Gianandrea Noseda, another orchestra favorite, in his first Saratoga concert.

Next week, incoming music director Yannick Nezét-Séguin conducts three concerts before we play The Wizard of Oz along with the movie, and we wrap up the final week with the great Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, followed by David Robertson from St. Louis. The Robertson concert is especially notable to me for my first Shostakovich “First” since playing it with Bernstein in Moscow and the London Proms in 1988. Lastly, our own Cristi Macelaru conducts the all-Tchaikovsky night to round out the season.