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The choral works of Arvo Pärt lead a series of delights in Fanfare

Welcome to Fanfare — our guide to live classical music in the Philadelphia area. Subscribe now to get Fanfare delivered right to your inbox every Sunday.


Spotlight: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir — Thursday, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

In the late 1990s, many of us discovered the exquisite vocal works of Arvo Pärt, thanks to the advocacy, ethereal tone and technical expertise of this disciplined ensemble and its conductor, Tõnu Kaljuste. This week, the group will appear at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral (presented by Penn Live Arts) in Pärt’s Magnificat (1989), Nunc dimittis (2001), The Deer’s Cry (2007), Dopo la vittoria (1996-98), and excerpts from Kanon Pokajanen (1997). The composer’s aesthetic, especially in his choral output, has echoes of the Renaissance, and to amplify the comparison, the choir will include works by the 16th-century master, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. The cathedral setting is icing on the cake.

Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m., Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 19 South 38th Street, $42, tickets and information.

The Philadelphia Orchestra — Thursday through Saturday, Verizon Hall

Written when the composer was just 20 (but not as unsophisticated as its title might suggest), Britten’s 1933 Simple Symphony uses melodic scraps he recycled from his childhood. And of course, who could turn down the opportunity to hear this work with The Philadelphia Orchestra’s strings? As an opener, to show off the orchestra’s brass, comes Gabrieli’s Canzon septimi toni, No. 2 from Sacrae symphoniae (c. 1597). After intermission, conductor Tugan Sokhiev will plunge into the glaring landscape of Shostakovich’s epic Fourth Symphony, completed in 1936 but not given its premiere until 1961. As a document of creativity under totalitarian oppression, the work has few equals.

Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 9 at 2:00 p.m., and Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m., Verizon Hall, Ensemble Arts Philly, 300 South Broad Street, $25 to $166; tickets and information.

Nicole Keller — Friday, Longwood Gardens

For those unfamiliar with the celebrated organ at Longwood Gardens, the instrument is one of the crowning projects of the Aeolian Co., one of the country’s premier organ builders. With over 10,000 pipes, it nudges out its colleagues at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the Royal Albert Hall in London, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Nicole Keller, recently appointed to the faculty of the University of Michigan, is an organist and educator who will put those pipes to the test in her Longwood debut, performing works by Florence Price, Nadia Boulanger and William Grant Still.

Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, $25; tickets and information.

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Showcase — Sunday, Feb. 11, Verizon Hall

If you’re lucky to have encountered music at an early age, you know the lasting resonance and power of music education. (TL;DR, it makes your life better.) Have a glimpse of the future when the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra presents its ninth annual Music Institute Showcase. Can’t decide between the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, Young Musicians Debut Orchestra, Bravo Brass, Prysm Strings, Philadelphia Youth Symphonic Band, Philadelphia Youth Jazz Orchestra, and Tune Up Philly? Not to worry, you’ll hear all of them, along with eight different conductors.

Feb. 11 at 2:00 p.m., Verizon Hall, Ensemble Arts Philly, 300 South Broad Street, $25-35; tickets and information

Alexander Hersh and Victor Santiago Asunción — Sunday, Feb. 11, Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society

A prize-winning cellist who is also co-artistic director of NEXUS, based in Chicago, Alexander Hersh offers two chestnuts by Debussy and Mendelsson in his wide-ranging recital. To complete the program titled “Music for Another Planet,” Hersh offers admirably off-the-radar choices from Webern and Paul Wiancko, plus world premieres by Michael Mayo and Nahre Sol. Joining on piano is Victor Santiago Asunción, founder and artistic director of the FilAm Music Foundation, which promotes Filipino musicians.

Feb. 11, 3:00 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut Street, $25, tickets and information.

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.