Have you ever found your mind providing a soundtrack for your life? As I walked into the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on opening night for the 2022-23 season of the Philadelphia Orchestra, my mental jukebox spun up Irving Berlin’s classic “Putt’n on the Ritz.” Swimming through a sea of ball gowns and tuxedos we looked in awe at the inspiring architecture that created an oasis of class in downtown Philadelphia.
Tables spread out in the dining area bore a festive fall color theme. Donors and benefactors gathered in areas to mingle and drink while we made our way to our seats.
Verizon Hall is a masterpiece of musical acoustics. Engineered to project with brilliant clarity and dampen echos or reverberations of the concert to perfection, one can feel the music in their chest and body without high volume. This is a home befitting one of the world’s premier orchestras.
Sometimes it takes attending a performance of the highest caliber to be reminded how much is lost in our AirPods or car stereo systems. The quality of the instruments, musicians, and music left us moved in ways that only great performances do.
BalletX kicked off the opening night festivities to showcase their professional dancers with impeccably graceful lines, performing “Umoja, Anthem For Unity.”
The pinochle of the evening, arguably one of the greatest pianists in history, Lang Lang, entertained us with Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor. You may have seen him perform at the Beijing Olympics. It is nothing like hearing him live. His capacity to transition between fortissimo and pianissimo as the piece demands is unparalleled. He then came out to an encore of “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins. A piece I did not find moving until he played his variations on that theme.
The symphony’s treatment of Dvořák’s piece demonstrated an understanding of both the piece’s tonal quality as well as understanding of the progression within and through the movements.
Having attended professional concerts from San Francisco to New York, I would put tonight’s performance up against any other venue and orchestra. And I would come back to relive this moment. The precision and dynamic clarity of the orchestra was shockingly flawless. I rarely hand out standing ovations, but did not hesitate to rise to my feet for this performance. If you love classical music and are in the Philadelphia area, dust off your jacket or dress and bask in the moments available at Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
If you cannot make it in person, you can still listen to their concerts on WRTI 90.1 FM on Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. or Monday nights at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD via www.WRTI.org.
To learn more about the The Philadelphia Orchestra or to purchase tickets for upcoming performances, visit them online.
*we were invited to facilitate a feature, all opinions are our own*