Posts Tagged ‘philly’

Berlioz and Saint-Saëns

The Philadelphia Orchestra is starting up again after the summer break, and once again I’m glad to be part of the eZseatU program ($25 for a full year of free concerts). My first experience with Berlioz was to see Faust, which was good but I hadn’t been so enthralled that I went out and got a recording.

Charles Dutoit conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus. The lineup was:

  • BERLIOZ – Resurrexit
  • SAINT-SAËNS – Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”)
  • BERLIOZ – Te Deum

The Resurrexit completely astounded me. It’s really a wonderful piece, and I think one of Charles Dutoit’s favorites. I found an earlier recording from Montreal, conducted by Dutoit. If you haven’t heard this piece, check it out here. Although it was part of a mass (now lost, as Berlioz felt it not up to par), you can really hear Berlioz’s Romantic side – the piece is loud and passionate.

Thursday is Bartok and Brahms, two of my favorites!


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Back in Philadelphia, which is quickly vaulting itself into Spring (with some crazy thunderstorms – hail!), and classes have started once more. This quarter looks promising – I was unsure at first whether or not Cataloging would be for me, but the kind of cataloging I do is so different from normal cataloging that I think the overlap will be minimal.

I’m in a web design class, called “Internet Information Resource Design” (why that instead of “web design,” I’ve no idea), which is fairly fun so far, although we haven’t done much except for create blogs for class.

However, I’m most excited about my Content Representation class. This is really the first class that has felt like graduate school. My readings for the first two weeks fill a binder completely (memo to self: buy much larger binder), and are really quite interesting – a lot of broadening of definitions of things like “information” (ie, a train can be a document), learning about metadata, reading about Dublin Core, and so on.

I’m excited to learn how to catalog and classify things like images, or music. We also have to create a thesaurus (not a Roget-esque thesaurus – for an explanation of the kind of thesaurus I’m talking about, click here), and that’s where I’m currently running problems – no idea what I would want to create a controlled vocabulary for. Regardless, this class will keep me on my toes, but I think I will get quite a bit out of it.

I’ve been managing to see at least a concert a week, even while in San Francisco. (See explanations of the concerts below the cut) (more…)

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Dvorák and Friends

This afternoon I attended my second concert using the EzSeatU program (see previous post). Due to the lack of people at the last concert, I did not hurry to get to the concert far ahead of time. And so I was surprised to see at least 40 students waiting to be seated with the program. However, I ended up with a really wonderful Orchestra-level seat (more towards the back, but in the middle) despite the crowd. I later realized that maybe people just like Dvorák much more than Berg and Mahler (though no clue why, as there was no giant hammer at all in the program).

The program was:

  • Milhaud – The Creation of the World
  • Walker – Lilacs, for voice and orchestra
  • Mahler – Songs of a Wayfarer
  • Dvorák – Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)

Walker himself attended, and sat in the row ahead of me. I had never heard Milhaud, and really enjoyed this piece – a small ensemble, but really jazzy at times.

I reserved my tickets for the April performances, so in the next couple of months I’ll be seeing:

  • Gil Shaham Performs on March 29th, (Debussy Printemps, Khachaturin’s Violin Concerto, and Dvorák’s Symphony no. 8)
  • Prévin Plays and Conducts on April 3rd, (Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 24 and Strauss’ Symphonia Domestica)
  • Masur Conducts on April 18th, (Brahms Symphony No. 2, Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Strauss Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks)
  • Access: Gotcha! on April 21st, (Strauss’s Merry Pranks again, but this time with a different performer and a lecture by a Temple professor)
  • Denève Conducts on April 24th, (Connesson Une Lueur dans l’age sombre, Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, and Mendelssohn Symphony No. 5 “Reformation”)
  • The Damnation of Faust on April 29th, (Berlioz, with Thomas Quasthoff, Magdalena Kozená, Giuseppe Sabbatini, and Eric Owens as soloists)

Feeling really cultured!

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Philadelphia Orchestra

Yesterday was my first concert using the Philadelphia Orchestra’s new EzSeatU program. Basically how it goes is that I pay $25 up-front, and then get into (nearly) every concert for free for one year. The only drawback is that you don’t get to choose where you are seated. 5 minutes before the performance starts, the ushers take the poor university students in and fill empty seats in the orchestra level.

So at 2 P.M. yesterday, I ended up with an amazing seat for the “Jurowski Conducts Mahler” concert, which was pretty amazing. First Berg’s “Three Pieces for Orchestra,” and then Mahler’s “Das klagende Lied.” I mostly went for the Mahler (and because the concert was cheap-as-free), but surprisingly liked the Berg. Maybe because there was a GIANT HAMMER smashing in one drum. Or the 100+ member orchestra.

Speaking of large orchestras, did not realize how insane Mahler was until I counted up the 130+ choral members, 100+ orchestra, oh and secondary orchestra playing OUTSIDE the concert hall. To supplement this one. Fantastic.

Next week is Dvorak’s New World Symphony!

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Well, not really Christmas. Yesterday the roommate and I went to Rittenhouse Square to see the tree-lighting. The promise of booths and fun was sort of ruined by the rain – there ended up being about two booths, 50-odd people, and a somewhat disappointing tree, although there were some good times had thanks to free felt, jingly elf hats and 3D glasses. Past the break includes some kitten videos, and holiday pictures. (more…)

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First Snow in Philly!

After a very brief flurry last night, this morning I awoke to find it snowing intensely outside. The flakes are large, and rather floaty, and I’m relishing my walk to the library through Rittenhouse later today. Also appreciating that I neither have to drive in this, nor do I have to slide down hills to get where I need to go – thanks, Philadelphia, for being so accomadating!

Snow on Center City

Snow over the Kimmel Center

I’ll try to get some more pictures when I go through Rittenhouse Square, but for now my batteries are charging, and I’m enjoying some great blackcurrant tea while in my robe and slippers.

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Thanks to my new Twitter, I discovered last night through CBS3 that Mayor Nutter was giving his budget crisis speech. After 2 minutes of talking about how great our city is (Woo, Phillies!), he got to some terrible, terrible news. We have to close a deficit of over $108 million in just six months. Here’s some of the worst of the cuts the city is getting:

  • No more tax reductions.
  • Cutting over 200 city positions, 600 unfilled positions, over 660 seasonal positions, and over 700 contractual positions.
  • Closing 3 ice rinks and several pools.
  • Every city employee earning over $50k has to take a 5-day unpaid furlough this year, and another next year.
  • No more street repairs, street cleaning, and only snowplowing on “tertiary streets.”
  • Getting rid of some fire equipment, and letting 200 police positions go unfilled.
  • Every city official is getting a paycut up to 10%.
  • Closing 11 library branches, and eliminating Sunday hours at three regional branches.

There’s more, but this is the worst of it. Philly wasn’t necessarily doing really well before. The City is the biggest employer in Philadelphia, followed closely by the University of Pennsylvania. It’ll be a tough winter for everyone here. Let’s just hope that these massive cuts actually help keep the city afloat.

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