For decades, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, or PCMS, has been feeding the region's growing musical appetite with increasing numbers of concerts. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, PCMS grew out of the celebrated Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, where gifted classical musicians have been playing chamber music since 1951.
Lewis: Building on the success of the summer programs, in 1965, Marlboro leaders established concert series in New York, Boston, Princeton and Philadelphia, where the primary office was located. Longtime Marlboro co-administrator and PCMS founder Tony Checchia:
Checchia: For those concerts to have more exposure and for the young artists to have an opportunity to have the experience of touring, they would form what they called Music from Marlboro.
Lewis: For two decades, Music from Marlboro presented four or five concerts a year in various venues around the city, including Moore College, the Walnut Street Theater and the Seaport Museum. But PCMS Executive Director Philip Maneval says Philadelphians wanted more:
Maneval: Groups like the Juilliard quartet and Beaux Arts trio. There was a small group of very devoted music lovers who were regularly traveling to up to New York, or on their way down to Washington to hear these wonderful ensembles.
Lewis: And so, in 1986, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society was born.
Checchia: There are wonderful artists who would never have appeared in Philadelphia if a series like this hadn't been developed. For instance, Horshevsky, who was a great artist, his last concert was for us at the Seaport Museum.
The early 19th-century Italian composer Giochino Rossini composed nearly 40 operas before he turned 40. Later in life, he turned to other forms. And near the end of his life, he wrote a solemn mass for the dedication of a private chapel. As two local ensembles prepare performances, WRTI’s Susan Lewis explores Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.
Lewis: In some ways, the work summarizes Rossini’s entire art, says Matthew Glandorf, artistic director of Choral Arts Philadelphia.
Glandorf : You get these beautiful, lovely, soaring, natural melodies that you would know from his operas, but you also see somebody who has an absolute mastery of interesting harmonies.
Lewis: Glandorf says you can see that Rossini was studying the music of his contemporaries.
Glandorf: Or shall we even say possibly the next generation. You really find that he's saying, hey look, I can also compose a fugue like the best of them....
Lewis: Choral Arts will perform the work on Saturday, February 9th and is engaging soloists who specialize in period vocal performance, among them Julianne Baird.
Lewis: Another interpretation will be offered later this month by the Philadelphia Singers, which Glandorf welcomes.
Glandorf: I’m hoping that that might open up a dialogue to say there are infinite number of possibilities to approach the interpretation of music, and actually that its radical to approach music differently.
Philadelphia is a city rich with classical musical offerings, from Philadelphia Orchestra concerts at the Kimmel Center to recitals in homes, neighborhood churches, and community centers. But there haven't always been public venues to hear chamber music – or presenters to bring in top talent.
WRTI’s Susan Lewis looks at a driving force behind the city’s vibrant chamber music scene: The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. PCMS has been presenting world-class chamber music and recital concerts to the Greater Philadelphia region for more than a quarter century. The organization is committed to offering affordable tickets to listeners from all walks of life.
Join Jill Pasternak for a conversation with the piano virtuoso Marc-Andre Hamelin. A startlingly original blend of virtuosity and power has earned this Canadian artist legendary status. Long known for his matchless exploration of unfamiliar piano terrain, Hamelin is now universally recognized for the depth and originality of his interpretations of Classical and Romantic repertoire. He'll appear at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on January 13th at 8 pm, playing works by Liszt, Berg, and Deussy, and his own compositions.