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Fanfare: Yo-Yo Ma rejoins Those Fabulous Philadelphians, and more

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: The Philadelphia Orchestra — Sept. 27 at Longwood Gardens, Sept. 28 at Verizon Hall

Note: The Philadelphia Orchestra is in ongoing contract negotiations with the Philadelphia Musicians’ Union Local 77, but the musicians have declared their intention to perform “under protest.” This week’s concerts are expected to proceed as scheduled, and we will be closely monitoring the story.

As a coda to summer, The Philadelphia Orchestra appears at Longwood Gardens, the renowned horticultural destination, with their first complete performance of William Grant Still’s Patterns (1960), a rarely heard suite for orchestra. Principal violinists David Kim and Kimberly Fisher will be the stellar soloists in Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins and Orchestra, and conductor Austin Chanu will close the evening with Mendelssohn’s enchanting “Italian” Symphony. The following evening, The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2023-24 season officially opens with superstar Yo-Yo Ma in a work that he recalls kept him up all night after hearing it at age 15: Shostakovich’s brilliant Cello Concerto No. 1. Conductor and music and artistic director Yannick Nézet-Séguin pairs this with Jennifer Higdon’s celebratory Fanfare Ritmico (2000) and Rachmaninoff’s glittering final work, Symphonic Dances, premiered in 1941 by Eugene Ormandy, to whom it is dedicated.

Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, $54 to $84; purchase tickets.

Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, One South Broad Street, $169 to $330; purchase tickets.

‘Brahms, Amram & Kerouac’ — Monday, Philadelphia Ethical Society

In a rare appearance, Philadelphia-born composer and conductor David Amram (b. 1930) will perform with his daughter, actress Adira Amram, in excerpts from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. This free concert is sponsored by the New York Chamber Music Festival, and includes works by Amram and Brahms (his Horn Trio in E-flat major) with stellar players: former Met Orchestra concertmaster Elmira Darvarova, American Ballet Theatre principal violist Ronald Carbone, former Philadelphia Orchestra hornist Howard Wall, and Curtis Institute pianist Thomas Weaver.

Sept. 25 at 6 p.m., Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, free; reservations here.

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra

Black Pearl Brass Quintet — Tuesday at 1515 Market Street

As a vehicle for “transforming grit into grace,” the culturally diverse Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2008 by Jeri Lynne Johnson. For this free afternoon concert, part of the Center City Social series, the ensemble showcases its brass stars. Drinks will be available for purchase at the nearby Uptown Beer Garden (and those looking for extra-musical diversion can occupy themselves with ping-pong and Skee-Ball).

Sept. 26 at 4 p.m., 1515 Market Street, free.

Afternoons at AVA — Wednesday and Saturday at Helen Corning Warden Theater

Founded in 1933, the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts is dedicated to opera singers, and offers them tuition-free training. Wednesday’s recital will feature three resident AVA artists, performing with pianist Michael Lewis: baritone Benjamin Dickerson, winner of the 2015 Marilyn Horne Song Competition; renowned Swedish soprano Loella Grahn; and soprano Ethel Trujillo, originally from Cuernavaca, Mexico. Saturday’s program features a recent Academy graduate, mezzo-soprano Anne Marie Stanley (AVA ‘22), whose range has been described as “smoldering…a quality akin to mezcal.” Also on the concert, which features longtime AVA coach Luke Housner at the piano, are two AVA resident artists: Swedish soprano Loella Grahn, and tenor Luke Norvell, who hails from Tacoma, WA. Both recitals are a part of Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O23.

Sept. 27 at 1 p.m., Sept. 30 at 4 p.m., Helen Corning Warden Theater, 1920 Spruce Street, $25 on Wednesday, $35 on Saturday; purchase tickets.

Curtis Voices — Friday at Field Concert Hall

The Curtis Opera Theatre is a fertile training ground for careers worldwide, and this recital, also a part of Festival O23, will feature five of the school’s current stars: tenor Jackson Allen, soprano Emily Damasco, countertenor Sam Higgins, soprano Dalia Medovnikov, and mezzo-soprano Katie Trigg. On piano will be the head of music staff at Curtis, Grant Loehnig.

Sept. 29 at 4 p.m., Field Concert Hall, 1726 Locust Street, $35; purchase tickets.

Bruce Hodges writes about classical music for The Strad, and has contributed articles to Lincoln Center, Playbill, New Music Box, London’s Southbank Centre, Strings, and Overtones, the magazine of the Curtis Institute of Music. His is a former columnist for The Juilliard Journal, and former North American editor for Seen and Heard International. He currently lives in Philadelphia.