Modern-day firsts at Chestnut Hill church Saturday

Local Life May 19, 2011 0 Comments

by Michael Caruso

Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will bring its 2010-11 season to a close with a pair of concerts this coming weekend. The first takes place at 8 p.m. Friday, May 20, in the Arch Street Friends Meeting House, 320 Arch St. in Old City. The repeat is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21, in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave. Soprano Laura Heimes will be the guest soloist. There is a pre-concert talk with admission set at $5. Call 215-755-8776 or visit www.tempestadimare.org.

The program pairs “Ino,” a dramatic cantata that Georg Philipp Telemann composed in 1765, with instrumental works in a similar vein by Johann Friedrich Fasch and Johann Gottlieb Janitsch. The performances mark modern-day firsts for each score on the program.

Prior to these concerts, all modern editions of Telemann’s “Ino” were based on one manuscript. During Tempesta’s recent tour of Germany, the group’s co-directors Richard Stone and Gwyn Roberts had the opportunity to consult a previously unavailable earlier score and several sets of orchestral part-books from the Berlin Sing-Akademie collection. They compared the various sources, stripped away layers of markings added in later decades and restored music that had been crossed out.

The story of “Ino” as set in the libretto by Karl Wilhelm Ramler comes largely from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” It is one of many myths in which mortals become collateral damage in the ongoing marital dispute between Jupiter and Juno, the king and queen of the ancient gods of Greece and Rome. Telemann composed his setting of “Ino” at the tender age of 84, very near the end of his career and life — proof positive of Telemann’s astonishing and inspiring talent, range and vitality. The program also includes Fasch’s “Concerto in D” and Janitsch’s “Overture Grosso.”

BALLET AUDITIONS
The Metropolitan Ballet Company, 700 Cedar Rd. in Jenkintown, will hold auditions for its boys’ scholarship dance program 9 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at its studios. Lisa Collins Vidnovic, founder and artistic director of the school, said that as many as 15 boys, ages 7 – 11 and 12 – 18, will be selected to receive a full year of weekly dance lessons with William DeGregory, artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet II, the training company for the Pennsylvania Ballet. DeGregory was a longtime principal dancer with the company. For more information, call 215-663-1665 or visit www.metropolitanballetcompany.org.

PERFORMATHON
Chestnut Hill College will celebrate its newly acquired “All-Steinway” status and host a Performathon starting Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22, in the East Parlor of St. Joseph Hall. Students will be performing during the weekend at the following times: May 20 from 3 to 8 p.m.; May 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and May 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Performathon will bring local young musicians to play for the public and raise funds for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House charity. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 215-248-7194 or e-mail kmccloskey@chc.edu.

HEAVENLY HOLST
Chief conductor Charles Dutoit welcomed violin virtuoso Gil Shaham and the women of the Philadelphia Singers Chorale to join him and the Philadelphia Orchestra for a series of concerts this weekend in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. In contrast to many concerts earlier in the season, Saturday night’s audience nearly packed the 2,500-seat hall.

The program consisted of two works by Englishmen: the “Violin Concerto” of William Walton (1902-1983) and “The Planets” by Gustav Holst (1874-1934). The pairing, and the resultant nearly full house to hear it, made me wonder if such a national focus approach to programming might not benefit the orchestra in its attempt to draw a larger and more devoted audience by offering series of programs that link music by French, Italian or Spanish composers. Perhaps a series featuring violin and/or piano concerti might also do the trick? Or how about a series of classical symphonies to appeal to that portion of the audience that treasures tradition? Or scores originally composed for ballets? Considering the dire straits the orchestra is now entering since filing for bankruptcy, it seems sensible that returning to the programming style of the musical directorship of Eugene Ormandy (1936-1980) might be a possible avenue leading to a revived popularity and prosperity.

Although I’m a lover of English music in general and the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams in particular, I found Walton’s “Violin Concerto” painfully dull Saturday evening. Even Shaham’s prodigious technique and colorfully inflected tone couldn’t save this academic workout from producing tedium.

Holst’s “The Planets” gave Dutoit the chance to elicit from the Philadelphians the kind of sonic experience that once made them famous all over the world. Although there were occasional lapses in ensemble, and though the strings no longer offer their once-legendary sumptuous sheen, the suite of portraits of our solar system received a stirring rendition.

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