One of the great classical music legacies of all time surely must be that of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Philadelphia is one of the most recorded orchestras in history, certainly one of the most traveled, and its annual residency at Bravo! Vail is always highly anticipated.
Isaac Stern used to say of Jascha Heifetz, “He was the sound that every violinist had in his ear as we were growing up.” Similarly, the fabled sound of The Philadelphia Orchestra — the “Philadelphia Sound” — has long been, for many, the ideal sound of an orchestra.
What is the “Philadelphia Sound” anyway?
Trying to talk about sound is a difficult proposition, but it is safe to say that the “Philadelphia Sound” began when Leopold Stokowski became the orchestra’s music director in 1912 and brought the orchestra to national prominence. The lush, warm and gleaming quality of its string sound and virtuosic-yet-luxuriant approach to music making has become the hallmark of this incredibly unique orchestra.
The Philadelphia Orchestra can also boast many “firsts” in music, and one of the most recent is the engagement of its female principal tuba player, Carol Jantsch. Jantsch was a 20-year-old senior at the University of Michigan when she won the coveted spot of principal tuba in The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2006.
For many, the orchestra’s star role in the 1940 film “Fantasia” brought it to international prominence. And, Maestro Leopold Stokowski shaking the hand of Mickey Mouse on celluloid is considered classic Americana.
For me, the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (members of The Philadelphia Orchestra) recording of “A Festival of Carols in Brass” is the very definition of a Christmas “classic.” First issued in 1967 it was synonymous with the Christmas holidays for my family and me. The recording was so popular that I believe it has never gone out of print. The brass sound is absolutely delicious — lovely, clear, ringing and so tasteful.
Yannick Nezet-Seguin joined the The Philadelphia Orchestra as its eighth music director this past season. He possesses a distinctive gift for reaching audiences and sharing his unmatched versatility and depth with Philadelphia, the Vail Valley and the world.
This summer, The Philadelphia Orchestra explores a rich and diverse program at Bravo! Vail. It begins with a Latin flare on July 5 with multiple Grammy Award-winner, Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera. On July 6, “Cirque de la Symphonie” is back by popular demand for an encore performance of spellbinding acrobatic and aerial feats, all choreographed to rich classical scores. Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg makes an appearance on July 7 in a concert that includes works by Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra and Aaron Copland. Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” with its open harmonies that epitomize the sound of America, evokes this country’s vast landscape and pioneer spirit.
Nezet-Seguin’s 2013 residency includes three monumental symphonic scores: Rachmaninoff’s romantic Symphony No. 2, a perfect vehicle for The Philadelphia Orchestra’s legendary string section, on July 10; on July 12, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, with its final movement that depicts a child’s vision of Heaven, sung by soprano Susanna Phillips; and on July 13, the Bravo! Vail premiere of Verdi’s monumental Requiem Mass for orchestra, chorus and four vocal soloists. Electrifying instrumental soloists, including 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Award winner and cellist Alisa Weilerstein and Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, join The Philadelphians and Yannick Nezet-Seguin this summer.
Don’t miss a note of the fabulous Philadelphians. You’re in for a real treat.
Jim Palermo is Bravo! Vail’s executive director. For more information, visit www.bravovail.org or call 970-827-5700.