Classical Music to See in Philadelphia in Fall 2021
As the pandemic dragged on last season, the silver lining was that audiences and presenters learned to be flexible. Concert dates have come and gone, safety rules have changed, and many have learned to roll with punches.
Much has changed over the summer, however, and the artistic fall season is coming in a new, darker shade. The more contagious delta variant once again asks auditors to recalculate the risk-reward equation. I might be hungry to hear the Elgar Piano Quintet in A minor, programmed in October by pianist Jonathan Biss and the Doric Quartet. But how hungry am I? The idea that we must now weigh the potentially devastating consequences of sitting shoulder to shoulder with others – masked, however slight the risks – is a difficult burden to bear. Many listeners will of course have no hesitation. Others might.
Pulling us back into our seats is a well-placed sense of obligation. All artistic groups need us. Federal aid has kept many donors solvent and private donors have been generous, but these sources cannot be relied on forever. The recovery of ticket sales is crucial.
All of this leaves each client with a sobering internal debate. And this is the one that cannot finish soon enough. Here are some of the season’s top classic picks. Be sure to check the sites for current COVID-19 protocols.
Perhaps more than any other great orchestra, the Philadelphians set out to sketch our most vivid portrayal of composer Florence Price to date. For several seasons, the orchestra and musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has drawn up a long-awaited review of his symphonies, concertos and other works. This particular program features her Symphony n ° 4 from 1945 – once considered lost – which the orchestra calls “a reflection of her experiences as a post-Civil War black woman from the South”. Singer Laurin Talese opens concert with “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and pianist Aaron Diehl performs Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue. Among these high-energy works is the great hushed mystery of William Grant Still, Out of the silence. (Oct 7-9, $ 10- $ 169, Verizon Hall, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-893-1999, philorch.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
COVID-19 has put a damper on musical globetrotters, and it is not yet clear how many foreign artists and ensembles may be barred from participating in U.S. tours scheduled for this season. But among the string quartets, none would be more welcome in these pieces than the Elias. The tight and exquisitely expressive group, based at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, plan to play three Beethoven quartets in the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series: The B flat major, op. 18, Number 6; F major, op. 135; and E minor, op. 59, n ° 2. Here’s hoping. (Oct 10, $ 30, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut Street, 215-569-8080, pcmsconcerts.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
“He looks like a child, but he plays like a master. His thinking on musical creation is incredibly mature. He discovered things in classical music that I hadn’t discovered in 70 years. This is what the late piano teacher Claude Frank had to say about Kit Armstrong when he was Frank’s pupil at school in 2004. Armstrong was 12 at the time. We’ll hear what the pianist has discovered since when Armstrong, now 29, performed Beethoven, Liszt, Book 1 by Debussy Pictures and other work. (Oct. 21, $ 30, Perelman Theater, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-569-8080, pcmsconcerts.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
Organist Peter Richard Conte slips into the role of on-site film composer when, seated at the great organ in Verizon Hall, he creates a live soundtrack of the 1925 silent classic with Lon Chaney. (Oct 30, $ 25, Verizon Hall, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
With his beautifully malleable baritone-bass voice, Davóne Tines promises a lot in this appearance with the Dover with Barber’s Dover Beach and Caroline Shaw’s Appalachian-inspired film By and by. Also on the program, string quartets by Brahms and Zemlinsky. (November 5, $ 30, Perelman Theater, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-569-8080, pcmsconcerts.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
With originality and insight in equal measures, Simone Dinnerstein is a pianist who is always worth hearing. Especially here, where she combines a Bach concerto with one by Philip Glass – her Piano Concerto No.3, written especially for her. Dirk Brossé directs. (Nov 7-8, $ 29- $ 104, Perelman Theater, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
This 41-year-old conductor of Venezuelan origin has a great future in the classical world. A graduate of the El Sistema musical program, he is now musical director of the San Diego Symphony and tours the podiums of major orchestras. Here, Payare leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in Dvorak’s alternately sweet and dark vocals. Symphony No.7 and the principal clarinetist of the orchestra at the premiere of Clarinet Concerto by Jacob Banks. (November 11-13, $ 10- $ 169, Verizon Hall, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-893-1999, philorch.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
The duo built an evening where three Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano are interspersed with three short works by Andrew Norman: Bypass I, II, and III. Programs structured in this way – old and new nested against each other – sometimes seem artificial. Often times, however, they create a lively dialogue across the centuries, and given Koh’s track record of intelligent investigation, we’re betting on the latter. (November 23, $ 30, Perelman Theater, Broad sts and spruce top., 215-569-8080, pcmsconcerts.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
We still get to know Stutzmann, who takes the title of principal guest conductor with the start of the orchestra’s 2021-22 season. This program should reveal a lot: an unusual score (2013), that of Missy Mazzoli Sinfonia (for orbiting spheres); and the large expressive canvas of the Schubert Symphony No. 9, “Super”. (December 2-4, $ 10- $ 169, Verizon Hall, Broad and spruce sts., 215-893-1999, philorch.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
New York flautist Beomjae Kim, now under the wing of Astral Artists, unveils a work by Shawn Okpebholo inspired by Henry O. Tanner The grateful poor. It’s a historic painting with a lot of connections to Philadelphia, including the fact that it was once owned by Camille and Bill Cosby. (December 5, $ 25, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut Street, 215-735-6999, astralartistes.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
In a concert presented by Penn Live Arts, the Crossing choir conducted by Donald Nally presents ten works by ten composers: Leila Adu, Ambrose Akinmusire, Alex Berko, Edith Canat de Chizy, Viet Cuong, Samantha Fernando, Mary Jane Leach, Shara Nova, Joseph C. Phillips Jr., Nina Shekhar, Tyshawn Sorey and LJ White. We can safely say that the stylistic diversity will be there, and of all the parts of the concert title, let’s hope that at the time of the concert it is the “after” that will happily come into play. square. (Dec. 17, $ 35, Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904, rue Noyer, 215-898-3900, pennlivearts.org) 🎟️ To buy tickets
»READ MORE: For more information, check out our Complete Guide to the Fall Arts