The Philadelphia Orchestra Does Return of the King at the Mann

“Next person who tells me to give the ring to the eagles gets turned into a newt.”

Peter Jackson’s action-packed conclusion to the Lord of the Rings trilogy won a stunning 1 trillion Oscars in 2004, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume, Best Makeup, Best Big Spider Scene, Best Painfully Long Hobbit Celebration, Best If All The Bad Guys Are Dead Why Is There Still An Hour Left In This Movie, etc. All the big categories.

Most relevant to this blog post, composer Howard Shore took the prize for Best Original Score for his work on The Return of the King. On Saturday, members of the Philadelphia Orchestra — along with the Mendelssohn Club and the Philadelphia Boys Choir — will recreate that ol’ Shore magic live at the Mann Center while you watch the movie on the big screen. Ludwig Wicki conducts.

Suggested topics for the ride home:

  • No, they couldn’t just give the ring to an eagle and let him drop it into the lava thing because you’re just going to end up with giant, evil, invisible eagle.
  • Why did Aragorn go off on that tangent about how men will forsake all their friendships one day? Not helpful.
  • Hey, did I see Bret from Flight of the Conchords in there? Yep. He’s in three Peter Jackson/Tolkien movies.
  • What if there were LOTR Garbage Pail Kids. i.e. Piggo Snortensen. That’s the only one I could think of. Never mind.
  • Is a single serving of lembas bread high in carbs?
  • Does Treebeard feel anything when acorns fall off his branches?
  • Ugh, that ghost army.

The Orchestra’s summer residency at the Mann continues with several movie and non-movie concerts including the Tchaikovsky Spectacular with fireworks on July 19, Jurassic Park on July 22 and Harry Potter and the Chamber Pot of Shame on July 28.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Saturday, June 24, 7:30 p.m. More info here.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin to Become Met Opera Music Director

Photo by Jan Reagan

Photo by Jan Reagan

The Metropolitan Opera announced today that Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s acclaimed music director, will succeed James Levine as its next music director.

The Met’s general manager Peter Gelb and other members of the Met company live streamed the announcement.

It’s the first time in four decades that the Met is changing music directors. Levine, 72, stepped down last month after years of health complications.

Though Nézet-Séguin, 41, told The New York Times he’d take an active role in the Met’s music affairs almost immediately, he will not officially hold the reins at the institution until the 2020-’21 season — he’s booked for several years until then.

Nézet-Séguin, born in Montreal, will continue to serve as the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra — which he’s led since 2012 — through the 2025-’26 season. The renowned conductor and pianist will split his time between two of the world’s most prestigious classical music institutions.

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Six Performances to See This Week

Pennsylvania Ballet's "A Program of Firsts"

Pennsylvania Ballet’s “A Program of Firsts”

A Program of Firsts — Pennsylvania Ballet @ The Academy of Music | May 12th–15th
The company performs its inaugural production of George Balanchine’s Serenade, the first ballet the celebrated choreographer created in the United States. Danced to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48, the ballet entwines unexpected events, like students falling or arriving late, into the choreography. Continuing the theme of firsts, nationally renowned choreographer-in-residence Mathew Neenan, cofounder of Ballet X, presents a world premiere for the company. Rounding out the program, Liam Scarlett showcases a company and North American premiere of Asphodel Meadows, comprising three compelling pas de deuxs set to the compositions of Poulenc. Read more »

Female Anti-Heroes Are Really In Right Now

New Paradise Laboratories is performing O Monsters at FringeArts. Photo by Plate 3

New Paradise Laboratories is performing O Monsters at FringeArts. Photo by Plate 3

Machinal @ Latvian Society of Philadelphia | April 20 to May 8
Feminism! Murder! American Expressionism! EgoPo Classic Theater is putting on the 1928 drama Machinal, inspired by the life of Ruth Snyder, who was executed at Sing Sing Prison for teaming up with her sidepiece to kill her husband. Here’s an unexpected photo of her being electrocuted. Philly theater staple Mary Tuomanen, who looks like an entirely different person in every play, takes on the female anti-hero role.

Mi Voca Su Voca @ SEI Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center | April 20-22
The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts is highlighting poetry with this one-man show from Edwin Torres, who developed it in part while in residency at the Kimmel’s SEI Innovation Studio. He’ll incorporate “themes ranging from growing up Puerto Rican in New York City to fatherhood to his Nuyo-Futurist evolution.”

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Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2016-17 Season Highlights Diversity of Sound

orchestra preview

Clockwise from upper left: Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Susan Graham, E.T., Simon Rattle

The Philadelphia Orchestra truly remains the city’s only A-list organization so far as attracting world-class classical music talent to the region, and their 2016-17 season, which was announced late yesterday afternoon, solidifies their ability to present diverse and wide-ranging programming… even the entire score of E.T.

In a statement, the Orchestra’s Musical Director, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, suggested that the upcoming season demonstrates the close bond that he has developed with the musicians throughout his tenure with the organization. Read more »

Review: Handel’s Messiah As Intimate As It Is Grand

Photo from Friday evening's performance from The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Photo from Friday evening’s performance from The Philadelphia Orchestra.

There was something tangible about Friday evening’s performance of Handel’s Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra, featuring a host of opera notables and the large-scale Philadelphia Voices choir, that made the otherwise massive Verizon Hall feel like an intimate chamber venue. Indeed, there was all of the fanfare and glorious music that is associated with the iconic holiday work, but underneath those layers, Yannick Nézet-Séguin was able to lead his musical troupes to a notably warm and dear sound that was remarkably tender. Read more »

Hilary Hahn’s Homecoming


Hilary Hahn | Photo by Michael Patrick O’Leary

She may be from Virginia, but violinist Hilary Hahn spent her formative years in Rittenhouse Square, studying at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music from ages 10 to 19. And that makes her an honorary Philadelphian in our book.

Hahn, 36, has performed literally all over the world, becoming recognized as one of the modern masters of her instrument. But she’s no snoot or slave to Strauss: She’s a big proponent of contemporary “classical” music, she has a fun Twitter account with 54,000 followers that purports to be run by her violin case (@ViolinCase) — and how many classical players do you know who turn up on late-night TV?

Hahn takes a moment from her busy schedule — and it just got busier; she gave birth to her first child in August — to bring her prized 1864 Vuillaume to town to perform Vieuxtemps’s Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. “She is a magnificent musician, an absolute master of her craft, and loved by our audiences,” says conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “We all look forward to welcoming her back.”

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin Named Artist of the Year By Musical America

yannick nezet seguinIt’s been an honor-filled season for Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The Montreal-born maestro recently opened the Met Opera’s 2015-2016 season in Verdi’s Otello, he and the Orchestra played for Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Families festival, he even threw out a first pitch a Phillies game a few weeks ago (video below.) To add a little icing to the cake, this week he was named “Artist of the Year” by eminent performing arts publication Musical America.

The cover of the latest issue shows Nézet-Séguin front and center. He’s standing along the Parkway with City Hall and a crowd of people in the background. He’s presumably on stage during the pope concert.

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