Weekend Roundup: Philadelphia Orchestra, Wilma Theater, and a farewell

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This is our last Weekend Roundup with you. We’ll miss it. Trying to be funny after orchestra rehearsal isn’t always easy, but we hope we’ve succeeded once or twice. We leave this feature in the capable hands of the next Arts Editor, to do with it what she wishes.

But, first, classical music! You didn’t think we were going to let you get away without another incitement to go to a Philadelphia Orchestra concert, did you? It so happens that we were there last night, and it was a very satisfying program. The obligatory new music piece was the “Canticus Arcticus,” Concerto for Birds by the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara dating from 1972, and here it felt less like a duty than a simply gorgeous piece of music. Recorded songs by Arctic birds were mixed with an orchestral palettte that recalled not so much Messiaen as Debussy. The orchestration was lush, the music meditative and melodic. The rest of the program consisted of Rachmaninov’s big hit, the “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” played ably by pianist Stephen Hough, and Sibelius’s deservedly popular Symphony No. 6, where the strings found a remarkable Nordic cool in their sound after the warm Rautavaara. The program is repeated today at 2:00, tomorrow at 8:00, Sunday at 2:00, and Tuesday at 8:00, all at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall.

Also this weekend, you can check out the Caryl Churchill Festival at the Wilma Theater (on Broad Street, just across the street from the Kimmel Center), which kicks off with performances of her now- classic play, “Cloud 9.” Set in both Victorian Britain and 1979, the play is famous for its playwright-stipulated cross-gender casting, but goes far beyond gimmicks to deeply question the meaning of gender and sexuality in both eras. At her best, Churchill is both insightful and bitingly funny, which this production hopefully captures. It plays nightly at either 8:00 or 7:30, and also has matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00. Check http://www.wilmatheater.org for exact times and student ticket information.

Have a great weekend, and all future weekends, and take a trip on the R3 for us!

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