Monday post — Philadelphia fun

Many of us know that the Philadelphia Orchestra couldn’t kick off Carnegie Hall’s season, as planned, because of a brief strike by Carnegie’s stagehands. Their concert was cancelled.

philly blogSo what did they do? They gave a free concert — dressed in colorful, informal clothes — in their hall in Philadelphia. 2200 people showed up. And clearly had fun.

Before the concert, there was a conducting competition. For members of the audience. A nine year-old won, and — what a prize for a contest winner — conducted the orchestra in the end of the William Tell Overture.

And for the encore that ended the concert, people in the audience were invited to hold up their cell phones, and share the music with their friends.

A press release from the orchestra — in the form of an email from their president — calls these things breaks with tradition, which of course they are. But they’re more than that. By doing things like these, an orchestra (or any classical musician, or classical music institution) joins the rest of the world.

Which is what classical music needs. This doesn’t mean the Philadelphia Orchestra no longer gives serious concerts. It means that they know how to  greet their public in the same ways everyone else in our world does. I love it.


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    • MWnyc says

      For readers who don’t know, “Mighty Mouse” is a newish nickname for the diminutive (5’5″, I believe) Yannick Nezet-Seguin the PhilOrch’s terrific music director.

      Joyce DiDonato came up with the nickname. Philadelphia Inquirer music critic David Patrick Stearns mentioned the nickname to YNS in an interview, and Yannick said he hadn’t known before who Mighty Mouse was. (I guess that cartoon didn’t air in Canada, or at least not on francophone TV.)

      So Stearns sang Yannick the theme song.

      Yannick thinks the nickname is “cute and funny.” Stearns allows as how Mighty Mouse’s slogan – “Here I come to save the day!” – is appropriate.

    • MWnyc says

      Nice report, Gene!

      Greg, the conducting competition was excellent audience outreach, but I think the real news is that the Philadelphia Orchestra packed Verizon Hall with a couple thousand people on six hours’ notice, with the news spreading almost entirely by social media — and the reception those people gave the Orchestra was ecstatic.

      I was mystified by the fact the The Philadelphia Inquirer’s day-after report didn’t mention any of that. (It barely mentioned the concert at all, concentrating on the conducting competition beforehand.) But yesterday the Inquirer ran a good report on both the Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia using social media to pull in crowds.

      And by the way, Gene, we New Yorkers don’t talk about Anthony Weiner anymore. If his name comes up, we either laugh at him or roll our eyes. But really, the events of primary election night (though I confess that I laughed out loud when I read about them) turned Weiner’s campaign from entertaining to embarrassing, and we sort of draw a veil over the whole thing now.

    • says

      I believe and hope the celebratory aspect of this chance event will lead to repeats… and perhaps even a new tradition sanctioned by the major league. Speaking of sports… I wonder what would happen if the Philadelphia Orchestra adopted a sports team name (Penguins?) … or if orchestras actually had “playoffs” once or twice a year. Conductors coach music, after all. I believe more citizens would actually study up on what and who makes an orchestra a number one team.