If you missed The Philadelphia Orchestra’s staging of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, you didn’t miss a performance: You missed a major, major event.
How else can you describe the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall stage filled with not only the Philadelphia Orchestra, but the Westminster Symphonic Choir, the Temple University Concert Choir, The American Boychoir, members of the Rock School for Dance, and the Temple University Diamond Marching Band, plus nearly 20 Broadway actors and opera singers…all at once. Add the excitement of Yannick Nezet-Seguin at the podium, and you sort of wonder how the entire building didn’t shatter due the sheer insane sound and energy from this cast of hundreds (Fun fact: this production is the first time that Verizon Hall’s orchestra pit was used. There were so many people on the stage, they couldn’t fit everyone). Read more »
Lovers of The Philadelphia Orchestra will have a unique opportunity to listen live to their Sunday, March 22 concert…without having to actually go to the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. The Orchestra has teamed up with WRTI 90.1 FM to broadcast their program live on air and via the web. Read more »
If you're a JFK groupie, then it is imperative that you head over to the National Constitution Center: The new exhibit "Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe" opens this Friday and runs through September. The interactive showcase features over 70 portraits of JFK, Jackie, and their children, and visitors can play with a touchscreen monitor that includes dozens of Lowe's contact sheets with never before seen images. Friday, February 13, 9:30am, $10, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street.
The Greatest Show on Earth has become even greater in this newest edition of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey circus, playing the Wells Fargo Center all weekend. The performance features extraordinary acts, animals, and fun that are exclusive to the Circus XTREME show, including dancing dogs, high-flying aerial artists, and lots and lots of camels and elephants. Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15, Various Times, $15-130, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street.
From Foobooz: The weekend of Valentine’s Day will be the official grand opening of the upstairs lounge and cabaret space at Mark Bee’sFranky Bradley’s. The upstairs will kick off with a cabaret hosted by Foxy Tann, the the Boss of Burlesque, on Friday, February 13th. On Saturday, February 14th, the upstairs will host the official after-party of the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention. Admission is free with a convention wristband or handstamp. Sailor Jerry’s drinks will be on special for $5 all night. More here.
Attention four-legged furry friend lovers: Celebrate your love for humans (and animals) at Nest's Fourth Annual Tweetheart Social, benefitting PAWS. Guests will enjoy a photo booth, beer, wine, a candy bar, heart-shaped Rice Crispy treats, and a silent auction. There will also be plenty of adorable dogs visiting from PAWS, and you can help by bringing cleaning supplies or canned dog/cat food as a donation. Friday, February 13, 4:00pm, $35, Nest, 1301 Locust Street.
I'm pretty sure you won't find your typical "I Love Mom" tattoos at this extremely popular show that runs throughout Valentine's Day weekend. The Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention features dozens of famous tattoo artists (many from TV's Ink Master series), plus vendors, contests, and seminars. If you're still down over your ex, it's a great way to get something else (permanent) that you'll soon regret. (February 13-15, various times, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St., Philadelphia)
Wear your best dance shoes and head over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art's "Art After 5" this Friday to immerse yourself in the world's sexiest dance: the tango. Watch tango dancers strut their stuff, and be ready to do the same as lessons will be included in this perfect way to kickstart Valentine's weekend. Don't forget all those tasty nibbles and cocktails served up by Stephen Starr. Friday, February 13, 5:00pm, $17.50-23.50, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Despite having only one full-length album under their belt, PHOX has already made impressive musical strides: the group has opened for bands such as The Lumineers, and played big-name gigs like Lollapalooza. The six-piece outfit plays alternative folk-meets-indie pop, with tracks worthy of getting caught in your head. Tickets are available for purchase online. Listen before you go: "Slow Motion/Blue and White." Friday, February 13th, 8 p.m., Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street.
Five-time World Music award winner 50 Cent is playing a one-night only concert at Philly's Electric Factory on Friday. The rapper, who rose to public fame after one of his singles was featured in the film 8 Mile, has sold over 6.4 million copies of his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He'll be joined on stage by Quilly, Kidd Kidd, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, and Young Buck. Friday, February 13, 8:30pm, $49.50-55, Electric Factory, 421 North 7th Street.
The PHS Pop Up Garden returns to The Shops at Liberty Place this Saturday, but this year, there's a twist: The floral extravaganza will also serve as a beer garden for happy hours through Saturday from 4 to 7pm. Guests at Liberty Place will be able to get a sneak peek at this year's Flower Show movie theme, and, for your convenience, you can purchase Flower Show tickets right there at the mall. Saturday, February 14, 9:30am, Free, The Shops at Liberty Place, 1625 Chestnut Street.
It is a landmark on Broad Street, and now you can experience it for free. The Abraham Lincoln Foundation is sponsoring their annual Union League Open House on Saturday, and art and history lovers alike will enjoy the program. Guests can take a guided tour to experience the over 300 paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art housed in the building, while actors playing historical figures offer storytelling. Saturday, February 15, 11:00am, Free, The Union League, 140 South Broad Street.
Clearly not for the squeamish, the Academy of Natural Sciences opens their new exhibit on giant snakes titled "Titanoboa" on Saturday. It's any Ophidiophobe's worst nightmare: See live snakes, learn about venom, and witness a life-sized model of an actual titanoboa, a prehistoric snake that weighed 2,500 pounds and was 48 feet long. What a romantic way to spend Valentine's Day! Saturday, February 14, 10am, $16.95-18.95, Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
From Shoppist: On February 14, stop by Old City’s Moko for Valentine’s Day beauty packages, a champagne elixir and rose facial and all-around girly fun. The best part? If you wear your pajamas, you’ll receive 10 percent off your services that day. That’s right, it’s totally appropriate—nay, encouraged—to wear cozy loungewear and get pampered tomorrow. Who needs dinner and a movie? Details here.
Ever wonder how lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) fall in love? The Philadelphia Zoo has the answer at their "Wild at Heart" weekend. Visitors can take a self-guided "wildlife couples" tour of famous animal pairs at the zoo while local ice artists create giant animal sculptures throughout the facilities. This is family-friendly heartwarming fun for all ages. Saturday, February 14 and Sunday, February 15, 10am, $16, Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue.
The words of the Bard will be transformed by The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre this Valentine's Day as they present a one-of-a-kind evening of music from four composers who were inspired by Shakespeare. Selections will include Walton's As You Like It, Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict, Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet, and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The large-scale musical forces will be led by guest conductor Stéphane Denève. Saturday, February 14, 8pm, $58-160, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street.
Set the mood on Saturday with an intimate performance by Knoxville folk band Cereus Bright (pictured), along with husband and wife duo, Elenowen. Both acts are known for emotionally driven lyrics and impassioned harmonies–a set sure to woo any valentine. Tickets are available for purchase online. Listen before you go: Bright's "Some Strange Hold." Saturday, February 14th, 8:30 p.m., 21+, MilkBoy, 1100 Chestnut Street.
Local singer-songwriter Joshua Thomas–whose album The Harboring was released in September–is recognized for his exceptionally strong vocals. When coupled with his masterful piano playing, Thomas's tunes carry passion "you can feel shooting straight through your headphones." Tickets are available for purchase online. Listen before you go: "Beast." Sunday, February 15th, 7 p.m., 21+, Tin Angel, 20 S. 2nd Street.
“The warm embrace of The Philadelphia Orchestra and its audiences has been humbling and exhilarating since I made my debut in 2008. Knowing that this love affair with the Orchestra and the City of Philadelphia will continue is an immense joy. I believe what we are doing artistically is so important, and it’s having a big impact on this community,” said Nezet-Seguin of the announcement. “But to do this work takes time, so I am thrilled that I will continue here as music director for at least another five years. Our work together is in many ways really just beginning, and now being able to settle in and think and plan long-term is really wonderful.”
The Board of Directors also renewed Chairman Richard B. Worley and Orchestra President & CEO Allison Vulgamore.
Philadelphia’s annual white-tie gala to celebrate the Academy of Music’s birthday — it’s 158th! — took place Saturday night at Academy of Music and the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Nearly 1,400 people attended the grand celebration which raises money to restore and maintain the Grand Old Lady of Locust Street.
The evening began with the chairman’s pre-concert reception held at the Academy of Music. Guests dined on Jose Garces catering of lamb chops and crab and eggplant sliders, and enjoyed an open bar. The MRB Jazz Project entertained guests as they mingled and posed for the society photographers on hand to capture society’s most celebrated and time-honored traditions, where men were dressed in white tails and women in ball gowns, white gloves and a few even wearing tiaras.
The concert began a little past 7:30 p.m., as Yannick Nézet-Séguin conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Al Pacino took the stage. Pacino joked throughout his piece that he wasn’t sure what he was going to do on stage; it reflected the audience’s likely thoughts when it was first announced Pacino would be the special guest after decades of musical guests like Sting, Billy Joel, and, last year, Jill Scott.
But Pacino didn’t disappoint, as fans of his movies were excited to hear his dialogue, often punctuated by laughs from the audience. And he did entertain as he did a monologue from Shakespeare’s Richard III while the orchestra played William Walton’s Preludio dalla colonna sonora. Then Pacino recited an e.e. cummings poem as the orchestra performed Copland’s Clarinet Concerto in the background. Pacino was a unique choice for a headliner, and was a complete success, delighting the audience.
After the concert, guests took part in the annual promenade up Broad Street to the Hyatt at the Bellevue for the Ball. Along the way guests were entertained by the Delaware County Christian Academy Choir (2013 More 101 FM Choir competition winners!), The Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble on Broad Street and The Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School Choir at the Bellevue. The 158th Anniversary Concert and Ball co-chairmen were Linda Fynes Siegfried and Joseph F. Coradino. The Young Friends co-chairs were Christie Honigman and Brian Lipstein.
A who’s-who of Philadelphia donned their best clothes and partied the night away at the annual Academy Ball on January 24, 2015. This exclusive white-tie affair is one of the only annual fundraisers to support the Academy of Music, and this year, Al Pacino teamed up with the Philadelphia Orchestra to present what was a memorable evening for those in attendance. Of course, eager socialites couldn’t help but post some great shots on Instagram, so we rounded up some of the best pre-ball prep, gorgeous clothes, and, of course, selfies. Read more »
The members of the Philadelphia Orchestra will pack their bags this May for a voyage to Europe: It is the first time that the Fabulous Philadelphians will embark on a European tour with Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
“I have long anticipated the first tour of Europe that I will take with the musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra,” said Nezet-Seguin. “At the conclusion of three years of our partnership I am proud to bring to European audiences this current embodiment of the great Philadelphia Sound that we have collaborated on together.” Read more »
Swank up your happy hour this evening by enjoying post-work libations and live music at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Tonight's Art After 5 programming features a performance from Northern Arms–who we dubbed the Best Local Band of 2014. Revel in the group's unique mix of "evocative melodies and epic arrangements" as you sip cocktails, nosh on light bites, and explore the galleries. Museum admission is available for purchase online. Friday, January 9th, 5 p.m.-8:45 p.m., $17.50-$23.50, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. —Marquesa Rotuski
Just when you thought you had detoxed from all that New Year's Eve drinking, think again: the first ever Big Philly Beerfest is invading the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday and Saturday. Guests will be able to sample over 300 beers, all while raising funds for Animal Rescue Partners. There will also be a ton of food trucks and vendors to help you sober up! Tickets can be purchased here. Friday and Saturday, January 9th and 10th, 7:30 p.m., Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street.
From Foobooz: Because the crew at Little Baby’s seems completely incapable of doing a normal thing when a weird option presents itself, they’re having an ice cream auction. In January. But hey, if you’re a big fan and have just been dying to get your hands on some of their rare, lost, forgotten or out-of-print flavors, this is the night for you. They’re planning on digging through every freezer to find all the odds and ends of the past year, and will be putting every single one of them up for auction on Friday evening. Sean and Andrew Arsenalt from Brewery Arts are going to be this year's auctioneers, and they're also going to be offering up pours of some of their beers throughout the event. Admission is free (as are the drinks), but be sure to bring a cooler and some cash if you're interested in bidding on ice creams that you'll never see anywhere else--and likely never see again. Friday, January 9th, 8 p.m.-10 p.m., Little Baby's Ice Cream World Headquarters, 2311 Frankford Avenue. —Marquesa Rotuski
Grammy-nominated Wale is kicking off 2015 with his "Simply Nothing" tour at the Theater of the Living Arts, the second stop on his journey across the country. The performer, who is taking his show on the road to over 32 cities, will feature numbers from his upcoming album aptly called The Album About Nothing. You can get tickets here. Friday, January 9th, 8:00 p.m., TLA, 334 South Street.
If you're a fan of quirky, late-night movies, then the Ritz at the Bourse has a treat for you: a Friday midnight showing of the very strange and dark comedy The Room. This low-budget, R-rated flick about deception and lust will surely be even more humorous after you've had a few drinks before the show, and for $10, it's a fine way to close out your evening. Friday, January 9th, midnight, Ritz at the Bourse, 400 Ranstead Street.
Former Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach, returns to the City of Brotherly Love for a series of concerts with the Fabulous Philadelphians. Good seats are still available for the shows, which feature the works of Strauss and Schumann. Tickets are available here. Friday, January 9th, 2 p.m., and Saturday January 10th, 8 p.m., Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street.
If you missed out on last week's First Friday art festivities because you were detoxing from the holidays, no fear: Napoleon Gallery is hosting the opening reception of "Distant Operator" by artist Marianne Dages this Friday. Dages, who has exhibited across the country and has taught at Temple's Tyler School of Art, presents a series of work on paper and object assemblage. Friday, January 9th, 6 p.m., Napoleon Gallery, 319 N. 11th Street.
Avoid impending frostbite this weekend by heading to Penns Wood Winery to get extra toasty. The winery is teaming up with local cheese and honey artisans to bring oenophiles an exclusive tasting and pairing experience every weekend in January. Each sit down pairing features five premium Penns Woods wines, coupled with a variety of cheeses and honey. This Saturday, enjoy live piano from Grace Anne Field as you sip and sample. Advance reservations are required: call (610) 459-0808 to secure your spot. Cheers! Saturday, January 10th, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, January 11th, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., $28 per person, Penns Woods Winery, 124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, PA. —Marquesa Rotuski
Round up the little ones and head to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens for PECO Family Jams, a family-friendly monthly event series. This Sunday, get crafty and help adorn the gardens with winter flare by making beaded snowflakes. Afterward, join a tour at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. and explore the glittering mosaics. Sunday, January 11th, 12 p.m.-4 p.m., $3-$7 (free for children 5 and under), Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street. —Marquesa Rotuski
You may have put your Christmas decorations away for the year, but the folks at Longwood Gardens still have theirs up and fully illuminated. It is your last chance to catch the iconic holiday displays for the season: they'll be boxing their glittery goods up after this Sunday. Check out our feature on the holiday magic here. January 9th-11th, Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square.
If all of that holiday shopping is still taking a toll on your wallet, Philly Improv Theater has the perfect Sunday solution: a free mixer that is sure to tickle your funny bone. Join them for Super Free Sunday, where three of their improv students will be randomly picked to star in a created on-the-spot show. It's a great and humorous way to start off your week. Sunday, January 11th, 7 p.m., Philly Improv Theater, 2030 Sansom Street.
Two great groups of musical experimenters will take the stage at Fringearts this Sunday evening. The Instant Composers Pool Orchestra, formed in 1967, blends musical styles from bop to jazz to create a unique and memorable sound. Ken Vandermark and Nate Wooley are both highly in-demand jazz artists who are known for their improvisational works. Tickets available here. Sunday, January 11th, 8 p.m., Fringearts, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard.
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Contrary to popular belief, the amazing cultural scene in Philly doesn’t slow down during the winter season: There’s a host of wonderful dance, theater, music, and visual arts events that are lined up during the region’s most frosty months. We surveyed the offerings and picked our ten best Philly bets that will sure to keep you entertained and inspired, even if you have to wear your toastiest winter gear to the venue!
Motown: The Musical, Academy of Music
It's been an insane success on the Great White Way. Now, the musical that CBS called "More than a Broadway show … a celebration of music that transformed America" is on the way to Philly's Academy of Music. Motown: The Musical features over 40 top hits from the likes of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations. It is clearly the highlight of the touring Broadway season here in the city. Don't miss our interview with one of the stars of the show, Jesse Nager. (January 6-January 18, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., Philadelphia)—Bryan Buttler
The Body of an American, Wilma Theater
Award-winning writer Dan O'Brien brings his gripping, essentially autobiographical, drama The Body of an American to the Wilma Theatre. The work is based on O'Brien's own interactions and friendship with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Paul Watson, who took a photograph of a dead American being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Two actors, Harry Smith and Ian Merrill Peakes, play over twenty roles in what's being billed as a work that breaks all theatrical conventions. (January 7-February 1, Wilma Theatre, 265 S. Broad St., Philadelphia)
Direct from a much warmer Miami comes a dance event that almost defies definition: Is it dance? Theater? Performance art? Drag? Contemporary Ballet? The answer is all of the above. Rosie Herrera Dance has enthralled audiences since 2009; critics have called the troupe's performances "so innovative, searing and disturbing" that they warrant “repeat viewings." The group will be performing their numbers "Various Stages of Drowning" and "Dining Alone" at the Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theatre. January 15-January 17, Zellerback Theatre, 3680 Walnut Street. —Bryan Buttler
The Fabulous Philadelphians are lead by the incomparable Yannick Nezet-Seguin for a three-week celebration of master Russian composers during the Philadelphia Orchestra's St. Petersburg Festival. Listeners will be treated to works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich, as well as the North American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's "Piano Concerto." January 15-January 30, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street. —Bryan Buttler
This world-premiere production at the Arden Theatre Company is sure to cause lots of thought-provoking discussion: a man dying of kidney failure asks his estranged daughter to give him one of hers. Under the Skin, written by award-winning playwright and Villanova professor Michael Hollinger, poses questions about organ donation, forgiveness, inheritance and family. January 15-March 15, Arden Theatre, 40 North 2nd Street. —Bryan Buttler
You've probably heard world-renowned flutist Julius Baker at one point or another and just haven't realized it: The Curtis and Juilliard professor is featured on the soundtracks to Fame, Beauty and the Beast, and West Side Story. Now, the Philadelphia-based Dolce Suono Ensemble, lead by one of Baker's top prodigies, Mimi Stillman, will present the first major tribute to Baker after his 2003 death. The concert at the Trinity Center for Urban Life will feature eight new world premieres with guest artist Jeffrey Khaner, principle flute of The Philadelphia Orchestra, who also studied under Baker. January 18, Trinity Center for Urban Life, South 22nd. and Spruce streets. —Bryan Buttler.
"Underline," University of the Arts
Two University of the Arts alumni will present their unique and thought-provoking fibers and textile works for the Philadelphia community. Underline features the works of Maggie Casey, a Pennsylvania native and current Philadelphia resident whose award-winning work has been recognized by the American Craft Council and the Rhode Island School of Design, and South Korea native Yunjung Kang, whose studies have taken her literally around the world. Don't miss the opening reception on January 22 at 5PM. (January 21-February 24, University of the Arts, 333 S. Broad St., Philadelphia)
Matthew Neenan has been called "one of today's foremost dance poets" by The New York Times. Now, Philadelphians will have a chance to see the choreographer in action during the Pennsylvania Ballet's upcoming program Prodigal Son. The performance will feature Balanchine's ballet that tells the well-known biblical story, along with works by the world-renowned Christopher Wheeldon and Gyorgy Ligeti. February 5-February 8, Merriam Theatre, 250 Soutj Broad Street. Bryan Buttler.
David Daniels is widely regarded as the world's leading countertenor, who has performed in opera houses around the globe. Now, Opera Philadelphia brings Daniels to the Academy of Music in Oscar, a new opera that had its world premiere in Santa Fe in 2013. The work is based on the trials and tribulations of iconic literary figure Oscar Wilde, whose private life ultimately became devastated after his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. February 6th - 15th, 8pm, $19-$239, Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street. —Bryan Buttler.
The legendary Japanese Kano painters, who created intricate large-scale works made of gold leaf and other materials, established a tradition of artistic excellence in their native country. Now, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents the first exhibition outside of Japan to fully examine the Kano painters' works. Ink and Gold: Art of the Kanowill feature over 120 works that explore the Kano's academy of professional artists and their various patrons. Expect to see stunning sliding doors and folding screens fit for Japanese royalty. Opens Monday, February 16, 10am, $14-20, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Membership to the Barnes starts at just $90, including guest passes and unlimited access throughout the year. Or splurge on the $2,500 package, which comes with a private tour for eight. But if the Barnes is a bit too focused on post-Impressionists and Modernists for the art appreciator in your life, you can’t go wrong with a Philadelphia Museum of Art membership, for as little as $40 for a student and just $185 for a family. The Friday Art After 5 performances in the Great Stair Hall (included!) are a must.
Your natural instinct will be a subscription to the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center, and you really can’t go wrong with that (and maybe throw in dinner at Volvér?). But under the new leadership of David Devan, Opera Philadelphia is making great strides and presenting some quite ambitious material. A three-opera package at the Academy of Music ranges from $45 all the way up to $645. Hey, it is opera.
For the Concert Lover
Some killer shows that would make good stocking stuffers: Aretha Franklin at the Kimmel Center, December 29th ($79 to $225); Billy Idol at the Tower, January 24th ($35-$137); Fleetwood Mac at Boardwalk Hall, January 24th ($49 to $179); Maroon 5 at Wells Fargo Center, March 9th ($29.50-$125); Neil Diamond at WFC, March 15th ($65-$150); the Who at WFC, May 17th ($36.50-$142); Taylor Swift at Lincoln Financial Field, June 13th ($75 to $200); One Direction at Lincoln Financial Field, September 1st ($59-$121).