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Fanfare: A Julia Bullock recital, a Lunar New Year concert and more

Happy New Year! Now that we’re a week in and you’ve read our preview of the spring season (right?), let’s get into a cool slate of concerts for the first full week of the year.

Spotlight: Julia Bullock — Thursday, Perelman Theater

Julia Bullock is a classical singer who can be found on most of the world’s biggest classical stages, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presents her in recital with pianist Bretton Brown on Thursday. If you’re used to the neatly organized nature of the standard classical recital, the program — encompassing everyone from Strauss and Weill to Connie Converse, who has been called a precursor to Bob Dylan — might suggest a kitchen-sink approach. There is absolutely a throughline, though, and Bullock’s selection illustrates how musicians, and especially singers, are finding new ways to tell stories and create experiences not just from works with pre-existing structures or even associated with classical music. If the variety seems daunting, PCMS has a helpful preview of the program notes, and WRTI’s own Mike Bolton will be giving the pre-concert talk an hour before the show.

Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $30; more information.

AVA Winter Recital — Tuesday and Thursday, Academy of Vocal Arts; Saturday, St. Martin-in-the-Fields

The Academy of Vocal Arts presents their winter recital starting Tuesday, and what better piece for the program than Franz Schubert’s Winterreise? It was described by Schubert’s friend as “a cycle of terrifying songs,” composed by Schubert at a very dark point of his short life. One of his other friends said that he only liked one out of the 24 songs, to which Schubert essentially replied: they’ll grow on you. And grow they have, into perhaps the foremost example of the song cycle. We’ll get to hear some of the foremost voices in town perform them, with musical direction and accompaniment by AVA coach Luke Housner.

Jan. 9 and 11, Helen Corning Warden Theater, Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street; Jan. 13, Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 8000 St. Martin Lane, Chestnut Hill; $10 to $25; tickets and more information.

Pipa virtuoso Wu Man
Pipa virtuoso Wu Man

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 / Lunar New Year — Thursday through Saturday, Verizon Hall

Fans of more recent music might find the lede buried in one of these programs. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony is a deserved favorite of the repertoire, and is of course the headliner of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Thursday and Saturday programs. But I’m particularly excited to hear the Pipa Concerto No. 2 by the “John Williams of China,” Zhao Jiping, featuring Wu Man, a virtuoso of the lute-like, four-stringed pipa. If that piece is also what jumps out to you on the program, you’ll also want to catch the Orchestra’s Lunar New Year celebration, featuring works by noted Chinese composers Li Huanzhi and Qigang Chen, traditional Chinese folk songs, and a couple pieces from the standard classical repertoire as well.

Tchaikovsky 5: Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 13 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $25 to $166; more information.

Lunar New Year: Jan. 12 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $16 to $56; more information.

Pianist Adam Tendler
courtesy of the artist
Pianist Adam Tendler

Bowerbird presents Adam Tendler — Friday and Saturday, University Lutheran

Bowerbird, a must-follow for fans of experimental music, enlists pianist Adam Tendler in a two-night residency presenting a different program each night. On Night 1, Tendler performs Robert Schumann’s classic Carnaval, interwoven with a response piece Tendler commissioned from composer Christian Wolff titled FANTAIL. Night 2 features the entirety of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano, which I would highly recommend if you haven’t heard a prepared piano before — it essentially means that objects are placed in the piano to interfere with the vibration of the strings and change the sound (fear not, no pianos are harmed in this process).

Jan. 12 and 13 at 8 p.m., University Lutheran, 3637 Chestnut Street, $12 to $20; more information for night 1 and night 2.

Philly Voices of Pride — Friday and Saturday, Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany

The Philly Voices of Pride are a community choir promoting the cultural life of the city and a positive image of the LGBTQ+ community. A composer friend of mine once told me how much he enjoys writing for community choirs, and this program, titled Among the Stars, could easily explain why: the program is mostly recent works, including one by Philadelphia’s own Melissa Dunphy, with a strong gaze to the celestial.

Jan. 12 and 13 at 8 p.m., Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, 330 South 13th Street, $15 to $30, more information.

Symphony in C — Saturday, Gordon Theater at Rutgers Camden

Across the Delaware, Symphony in C presents two staples of the repertoire along with a more recent piece by one of today’s most important composers. Headlining the program is Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, a favorite among players and enthusiasts, followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. Opening the program is Records from a Vanishing City, a 2016 work by Jessie Montgomery, currently the Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony.

Jan. 13 at 8 p.m., Gordon Theater, 314 Linden Street, Camden, NJ, $10 to $55; more information.

Plan Ahead

Beyond the coming week, I also have my eye on these:

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.