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Fanfare: From the Fringe to O23, classical events in the week ahead

Wig Wag, Emily Bate's immersive vocal experience, is a part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

Welcome to Fanfare — our weekly guide to live classical music in the Philadelphia area. Subscribe now to get the weekly mailing delivered straight to your inbox. To let us know about an event on the horizon, or share other feedback, drop us a line!

Spotlight: This Week at Fringe

This year’s Philly Fringe Festival is about halfway over, and there have already been some great performances in their lineup — last weekend I saw Ex Anima Artists perform Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens. Here are four events I think would be especially interesting this coming week.

Dark Places

The pumpkin spice lattes and Oktoberfest beers are upon us, so how about an early foray into spooky season? The Perspective Collective, a regional group specializing in miniature operas, presents Dark Places, a compilation of song and opera from the Laurel Hill East Cemetery. There will be songs by Libby Larsen, Rosśa Crean, and Michael Leibowitz, and the performance will conclude with Stephanie Leotsakos’s mini-opera Young Goodman Brown, based on a titular story by Nathaniel Hawthorne dealing with the evil of human nature.

Sep. 17 at 7 p.m., Laurel Hill East Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Ave, $15, tickets and information.

Late Night Snacks

Late Night Snacks, an offering of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, in partnership with Opera Philadelphia.
Late Night Snacks, an offering of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, in partnership with Opera Philadelphia.

Two festivals, Fringe and O23, team up for this series of unapologetically queer performances at The Closet, a custom cabaret on South Street. If you’d like to make sure you hear an opera singer, check out the nights featuring Le Gateau Chocolat, Cookie Diorio, Balena Canto, and Dicky Dutton. This week is also your only chance to catch Sgt. Jennifer Higdon and Her Lonely Hearts Club Band, on Saturday.

Sep. 17, and Sept. 20 through 24 at various times, The Closet, 201 South Street, $10 or pay-what-you-can; more information.

Wig Wag

Asking the audience to sing along can seem anxiety-inducing, but Emily Bate, the composer of Wig Wag, insists that this performance is for people who love to sing, people who “can’t sing,” and those for whom both apply. The show endorses the idea that singing together creates a whole out of the individual people involved, supporting the philosophy that each “self” is a network of relationships. Four voices, including the composer’s, lead the collaborative piece in accessible yet harmonically dense music that explores the idea of this collective self. If joining in makes you nervous, though, fear not — participation is totally optional.

Sep. 21 (mask-mandatory) and Sept. 23 at 7 p.m., and Sep. 25 at 1 p.m., FringeArts, 140 Columbus Boulevard, $25, students $15; tickets and information.

Art Song Daydreams

Part of Kids Fringe, this will be a young person’s guide to the art song, performed by mezzo Hayley Elizabeth Collins and pianist Michael Confalone. They’ll start with a guided reading of the poetry, dive deeper into the text, and then perform the songs themselves. This performance/workshop is free, so it’s a great opportunity for kids of all ages and backgrounds to learn about a kind of classical music that relates very closely to how popular songs are structured.

Sep. 23 at 4:15 pm. and Sept. 24 at 1 p.m., West Philadelphia Boys and Girls Club, 5843-55 Catharine Street, free; more information.

Karin Sulayman's 2022 work 'Unholy Wars,' which reframed the Crusades from an Arab American perspective, receives its second staging at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre with Festival O23.
William Stuhs
Opera Philadelphia
Karin Sulayman's 2022 work 'Unholy Wars,' which reframed the Crusades from an Arab American perspective, receives its second staging at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre with Festival O23.

Festival O23

Perhaps you’ve already read our preview of Festival O23, but this is your reminder — Opera Philadelphia’s signature fest starts this weekend! Check out their timetable, and you’ll find that in the first half there are performances of the festival’s three staged productions, as well as recitals by Amanda Majeski and Musa Ngqungwana.

Rising Tide: The Crossroads Project

This event is about more than just the music — the performance is a scored lecture on the imperative issue of climate change, and what we can still do about it. Physicist Dr. Robert Davies speaks alongside the Fry Street Quartet, accompanied by paintings by Rebecca Allan and photography by Garth Lenz. There will be quartet movements by Joseph Haydn and Leoš Janáček, and the headlining work is Laura Kaminsky’s Rising Tide. This will be the only performance in the region, just south of Philly at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J.

Sep. 22 at 7:30 p.m., Pfleeger Concert Hall, North Campus Drive, Glassboro, N.J., $10 to $30, tickets and information.

Free Philadelphia Fall Arts Fest

Last but certainly not least, here’s something free with plenty to offer, classical and otherwise. The Kimmel Cultural Campus hosts a festival featuring all different kinds of music, from hip-hop to Broadway to opera to Korean traditional music. The afternoon closes with a sold-out performance by The Philadelphia Orchestra — and if you didn’t snag a ticket, they’ll also be selling $25 tickets to upcoming season performances at the Kimmel Center.

Sep. 23 starting at 11 a.m., Kimmel Center, 300 S Broad Street, free, more information.

John T.K. Scherch (JohnTK@wrti.org) shares the morning’s musical and other offerings weekdays on WRTI 90.1. Previously, he was the first new host on WBJC in Baltimore in nearly 20 years, hosting the evening, Sunday afternoon, and request programs, and he is also an alumnus of U92, the college radio station of West Virginia University and a consecutive national Station of the Year winner.