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Fanfare: Audra McDonald, Daniil Trifonov, and 'Immortal Bach'

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 with Audra McDonald, Daniil Trifonov — Tuesday, Friday through Sunday, Verizon Hall

Philadelphia’s fall season is underway in earnest, and again The Philadelphia Orchestra leads off our list of recommended performances, with the caveat that its musicians have yet to reach a labor agreement with management. Last week’s season opener went off as planned, and assuming that scenario holds, they’ll be busy in the days ahead — with a special concert featuring Audra McDonald and the first programs of the subscription series, which follow a few nights later. McDonald, who appears on Tuesday, is simply a phenomenon, a singing actress of extraordinary range. Her full program hasn’t been announced, but it will include Gershwin’s “Summertime,” Bernstein’s “Somewhere,” and other songs from Broadway (where she’s earned six Tony Awards).

Daniil Trifonov performing with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Oct. 2022.
Jeff Fusco
Daniil Trifonov performing with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Oct. 2022.

I’m also eager to hear Daniil Trifonov’s encounter with George Gershwin’s jazzy Piano Concerto in F major as the orchestra’s subscription season begins, this Friday through Sunday. Possibly the most acclaimed of current young pianists, Trifonov joins the Philadelphians regularly in absorbing performances of wide-ranging repertoire. The Symphony No. 4 of Gershwin’s contemporary William Grant Still is an ideal companion, representing “the fusion of musical cultures in North America,” in the composer’s words. A recent work by the New York-based British composer Anna Clyne will also be featured.

Audra McDonald, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $30 to $100; purchase tickets. Trifonov Plays Gershwin, Oct. 6 and 8 at 2 p.m., Oct. 7 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $30 to $100; purchase tickets.

‘Immortal Bach’ — Saturday, Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square

Who can resist the glorious sacred works of Johann Sebastian Bach? Choral Arts’ new leader, Donald Meineke, whose Bach experience is both broad and deep, has chosen three for his first concert with the group on Saturday afternoon: the exuberant “Singet dem Herrn,” with its final fireworks display of Alleluias; the yearning and impassioned “Komm Jesu, komm”; and Cantata No. 80, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” built around Martin Luther’s stalwart chorale. A 1988 Bach-inspired piece by Norwegian choral master Knut Nystedt rounds out the program (and also provides its title).

Oct. 7 at 4 p.m., The Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street, $30 general, $40 for first five rows, $15 for students; tickets and information.

Baritone and scholar Jean Bernard Cerin
courtesy of the artist
Baritone and scholar Jean Bernard Cerin

‘La Serenata’ — Saturday, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church; also Oct. 8 and 10 in other locations

LyricFest’s approach to the song recital is fresh and enterprising — with thought-provoking themes, wide-ranging repertoire, and several singers on each program. A concert based on Italian song sounds simple, but with composers ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century, some delightful juxtapositions are a certainty. Three gifted young singers of national reputation — soprano Jessica Beebe, tenor James Reese, and baritone Jean Bernard Cerin — will be accompanied by Philadelphia-based guitarist Allen Krantz.

Oct. 7 at 3 p.m., Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr. Oct. 8 at 3 p.m., The Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street. Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m., The Community House of Moorestown, 16 East Main Street, Moorestown, N.J. $30; purchase tickets.

Plan Ahead: Sphinx Virtuosi with Xavier Foley, double bass — Oct. 18, Perelman Theater

I’m jumping ahead of myself a bit here. The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society doesn’t start its season until mid-October, but will then offer a cornucopia of recital riches throughout the season. They spring out of the gate with the gifted young Sphinx Virtuosi, a chamber orchestra comprising current and past laureates of the Sphinx Competition. One of these is Xavier Foley, who is not only a formidable double bass soloist but also a compelling interpreter of his own compositions, including “Galaxy,” a centerpiece of this concert. The group’s program highlights Black and LatinX composers, and I’m especially looking forward to hearing the Sinfonietta No. 2 by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.

Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $30; purchase tickets.

Melinda has worked in radio for decades, hosting and producing classical music and arts news. An award-winning broadcaster, she has created and hosted classical music programs and reported for NPR, WQXR—New York, WHYY–Philadelphia, and American Public Media. WRTI listeners may remember her years hosting classical music for WFLN and WHYY.