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The Philadelphians on WRTI 90.1: Music of Faith with Bernstein and Rossini, Yannick Conducts

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Leonard Bernstein, January 12, 1963

Join us on Sunday, August 25th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, August 26th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2 for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast to hear two spiritually inspired works for soloists, chorus, and orchestra that couldn't be more different. 

Composed nearly a century and a quarter apart by composers who possessed extraordinary dramatic gifts, the Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”) by Leonard Bernstein, and the Stabat Mater by Gioacchino Rossini offer something special for all lovers of vocal music.

Yannick Nezet Seguin conducts.

For this performance, the members of the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, and the award-winning Philadelphia Boys Choir fill the seats in the Conductor’s Circle at Verizon Hall, and four distinguished soloists join the Philadelphia Orchestra on stage.

Leonard Bernstein’s score for the Kaddish Symphony calls for soprano and narrator, and for Sunday’s performance soprano Nadine Sierra makes her Philadelphia Orchestra debut. She’s the winner of the Richard Tucker Award in 2017 and the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Award in 2018. The narrator, whom we heard on our live MLK Day broadcast from Girard College, is Charlotte Blake Alston, the internationally acclaimed storyteller, narrator, singer, and librettist.

The Kaddish Symphony is dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on November 22, 1963, just weeks before the first performance of the symphony. Leonard Bernstein wrote the text of the narration himself, a monologue for a human being addressing God, with many levels of direct expression and subtext. It is a powerfully moving work.

Following intermission, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, scored for four soloists, chorus, and orchestra, is one of the works Rossini composed following his early departure from the opera stage. These, aside from some smaller chamber pieces, were all larger works of church music. The text of the Stabat Mater is fashioned as a prayer describing Mary’s pain in the face of the crucified Christ, and it has inspired many composers, among them, Domenico and Alessandro Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Haydn, and Verdi. Rossini, in his ten-movement work, unites such diverse forms as aria, duet, quartet and chorus, to create an operatic masterpiece that is one of the high points of the genre.

During intermission, WRTI’s Susan Lewis speaks with mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong in her dressing room.

Bernstein: Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish")
Rossini: Stabat Mater

Yannick Nézet-Séguin - Conductor
Charlotte Blake Alston - Narrator
Nadine Sierra - Soprano
Elizabeth DeShong - Mezzo-soprano
John Osborn - Tenor
Krzysztof Baczyk - Bass
Philadelphia Symphonic Choir - Mixed chorus
Joe Miller - Director
Philadelphia Boys Choir - Chorus
Jeff Smith - Director

Read detailed program notes from the concert here.

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app!Listen again on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.