Fanfare Meets Fall Preview: See Zev Kane's picks for the season
After a long, hot, Barbenheimer summer, school is back in session and live classical music is, at last, making its way back into our lives. With the exception of what is sure to be a jaw-dropping season opener by The Crossing, most performing seasons won’t kick off in earnest until the end of September — so we’re turning this installment of Fanfare into my personal Fall Preview.
Going forward, each Fanfare will focus mainly on concert fare in the week ahead. Subscribe now to receive the weekly mailing, and do let us know what you think!
Spotlight: ‘Crickets in Our Backyard’ – The Crossing, Sept. 16
True to form, the indefatigable choir The Crossing and their conductor Donald Nally have had an exceptionally busy 2023 to date: In February, they received their third Grammy for Best Choral Performance for the album Born; in March, they premiered John Luther Adams’s Vespers of the Blessed Earth with The Philadelphia Orchestra, to great acclaim; and in June, they presented FARMING, Ted Hearne’s sardonic send-up of American agribusiness, on a Bucks County farm.
The Crossing’s 2023-24 season will take them everywhere from Helsinki to Houston, but it opens on Sept. 16 at their Philadelphia home base, the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, with a concert titled Crickets in Our Backyard. Anchoring the program is the world premiere of Singsong, a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León based on texts by poet Rita Dove, for which they will be joined by the intrepid flutist Claire Chase. Crickets also includes the world premiere of Infinite Body by Ayanna Woods, The Crossing’s composer-in-residence, and a reprise of Wang Lu’s At Which Point, which they premiered in 2021. As always, Nally and The Crossing promise an evening of fearless and transformative sonic exploration, celebrating the sublime synthesis of music and text with every note.
Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, $20-35, purchase tickets.
Night Music – Main Line Early Music, Sept. 17
The Philadelphia-based chamber ensemble Night Music has themed its 2023-24 season “Generations,” with programs that examine the relationships between 17th and 18th century composers and earlier composers who influenced them. Their season opener, which also kicks off the 2023 Main Line Early Music season on Sept. 17, exemplifies this concept, presenting Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and a chamber arrangement of Haydn’s 98th Symphony alongside a similarly spirited forbear by Georg Philipp Telemann.
Sept. 17 at 3 p.m., Church of the Good Shepherd, 1116 W. Lancaster Avenue, $30; purchase tickets
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto – The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Oct. 6 and 8
Violinist Francisco Fullana has largely flown under the radar in the United States, but the Spanish sensation will no doubt make an indelible impression on Philadelphia audiences when he joins The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia for their season-opening weekend in early October. (As an introduction, I recommend his brilliant recent album Spanish Light.) Fullana’s painterly tone color perfectly matches Mendelssohn’s passionate Violin Concerto in E minor, in a program rounded out by two other Mendelssohn works and Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, conducted by Dirk Brossé.
Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S. Broad Street, $29 to $104; purchase tickets.
Belcea Quartet – Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Oct. 20
I’ve been holding my breath for the return of the Belcea Quartet to the City of Brotherly Love since their most recent performance at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in 2021. The London-based group brings electrifying chemistry and extraordinary finesse to their interpretations of well-trodden quartet literature. Prepare to be blown away by the rich new details they’ll conjure in this program of Beethoven, Bartók and Debussy.
Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S. Broad Street, $30; purchase tickets.
“Spectacular Strauss” — Curtis Symphony Orchestra & Curtis Opera Theatre, Oct. 22
Richard Strauss lovers rejoice! Under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Curtis Opera Theatre begin their 2023-24 seasons with a collaborative tribute to the vivid musical imagination of the German composer. By turns intimate and epic, the program features numbers from three of Strauss’s best-loved operas — Salome, Ariadne auf Naxos and Der Rosenkavalier — culminating in a massive masterpiece, An Alpine Symphony.
Oct. 22nd at 7pm, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S. Broad Street, $19 to $55; purchase tickets.
‘Stabat Mater’ – Variant 6, Oct. 27
In 2023, we hardly need reminders of struggle, a fact that makes the season-opening concert of the vocal ensemble Variant 6 feel even more urgent and compelling. Juxtaposing Poulenc’s Stabat Mater and Liszt’s Via Crucis, two works that grapple with the conceptual profundity and nuance of “suffering,” Variant Six offer a salve for the world’s wounds with their eagle-eyed attention to detail and sublime vocal blend.
Oct. 27 at 7 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Germantown; purchase tickets.