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A 2024 Season Preview, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard and more

In Philadelphia, the coldest part of the year can also serve as a backdrop to some of the year’s best musical events. Here are a few during the first quarter of 2024 that are almost guaranteed to dispel the chill. (Subscribe now to get Fanfare in your inbox!)

Spotlight: Pierre-Laurent Aimard — Feb. 23, Perelman Theater

It’s always an event when the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard appears, especially when presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in an intimate space like the Perelman Theater. In a typical display of Aimard’s intellectual bent, he has assembled a disparate parade of fantasias, starting with Sweelinck’s Echo Fantasia from 1617, followed by Elliott Carter’s Night Fantasies (1980). Continuing with Chopin, Mozart, CPE Bach, and Beethoven, the pianist closes with The Celestial Railroad (1922-25) by Charles Ives.

Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $30, tickets and information.

Orchestre Métropolitain, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Orchestre Métropolitain
Orchestre Métropolitain, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Orchestre Métropolitain — Mar. 5, Verizon Hall

Created in 1981 in Montréal, the Orchestre Métropolitain (OM) may not be as well known to American audiences as the city’s Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), but this Métropolitain appearance should help to remedy that. The eclectic program includes a new work by Canadian Indigenous cellist and composer Cris Derksen (of Cree and Mennonite heritage), the pianist Tony Siqi Yun in Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 — all led by Montréal native Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the orchestra’s artistic director and principal conductor since 2000.

Mar. 5 at 7:30 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $24 to $99, tickets and information

Tempesta di Mare: Juditha Triumphans — Mar. 16, Irvine Auditorium

A love story, a beheading, and a woman who leads forces to victory — how can anyone resist? Tempesta di Mare presents Vivaldi’s 1716 oratorio, Juditha Triumphans, originally written for the Ospedale della Pietà, a girls’ orphanage in Venice. The work is infrequently performed, partly because of the challenges of locating the instruments required. In addition to the soloists, chorus, and a string orchestra, the score calls for theorbos, viola d’amore, and a salmoè (related to the clarinet) — instruments within the specialized orbit of Tempesta di Mare.

Mar. 16 at 4 p.m., Irvine Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania, 3401 Spruce Street, $35 to $55, some seats available free for students with I.D., tickets and information

Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony — Mar. 21-23, Verizon Hall

Opportunities to hear the magnificent 6,000-pipe organ in Verizon Hall don’t come around all that often. In these concerts, Christian Schmitt, principal organist of the Bamberg Symphony in Germany, will be at the keyboard for the United States premiere of Guillaume Connesson’s Concerto da Requiem (2020) for organ and orchestra. Born in 1970, Connesson is part of a generation of composers with omnivorous tastes; among his influences, he lists the soul icon James Brown. Paavo Järvi and The Philadelphia Orchestra complete the menu with Debussy’s shimmering Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Prokofiev’s granitic Fifth Symphony.

Mar. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Mar. 22 at 2 p.m., Mar. 23 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $25 to $166, tickets and information.

Correction: A previous version of this post included Opera Philadelphia's presentation of The Anonymous Lover, by Joseph Bologne. That production has been rescheduled for Jan. 2025.

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.