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Musicians from Marlboro, Yo-Yo Ma with John Williams, and more

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: Musicians from Marlboro – Wednesday, Perelman Theater

Each summer, amid the gentle mountain greenery of southern Vermont, the Marlboro Music Festival and School brings some of the world’s greatest chamber musicians together with exceptional emerging artists for several weeks of collaborative, immersive rehearsal and performance. Over the course of several weeks, this artistic community offers extraordinary and varied concerts of chamber music as the public-facing side of a retreat quite unlike any other in the musical world.

Alas, few of us have the luxury of weeks in Vermont over the summer to feast on Marlboro’s smorgasbord of chamber music. Fortunately the festival sends select ensembles on national tours during the regular season to showcase their summer offerings more widely. This concert, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, features an ensemble of strings and piano in an eclectic but perfectly balanced program. Antonín Dvořák’s delightful “Dumky” Piano Trio and Arnold Schoenberg’s lush early string sextet Verklärte Nacht are complemented by miniatures for string quartet by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Anton Webern.

Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street, sold out, but join the waiting list by calling 215-569-8080 or emailing boxoffice@pcmsconcerts.org; more information.

Lawrence Sumulong
Courtesy of Sony Music
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs with composer John Williams.

John Williams and Yo-Yo Ma with the Philadelphia Orchestra – Tuesday, Verizon Hall

John Williams, it seems, just can’t retire. He turned out the most recent of his 75-plus film scores in 2022 (for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”), and ever since, has teased reporters with suggestions that he remains open to more movie projects. Only a couple of weeks past his 92nd (!) birthday, he’ll be on the podium for a one-night-only event with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the first half he’ll conduct the Cello Concerto he wrote 30 years ago for Yo-Yo Ma, with the dedicatee as soloist. He then passes the baton to Stéphane Denève, who leads a second half filled with favorite excerpts from Williams’s beloved scores for “E.T.,” the “Star Wars” series, and more.

Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street, $249, more information.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard – Friday, Perelman Theater

A pianist of searching curiosity who always intrigues, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has trained his laser-like intelligence on a musical form characterized mostly by its lack of a defined form: the musical fantasy, which evokes and often originates in improvisation. His fascinating program begins in the late Renaissance with Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and closes with an early work by Charles Ives that would eventually give rise to a movement in his Fourth Symphony. In between are better-known classical and Romantic fantasies by Mozart, Beethoven, and C.P.E. Bach, as well as the haunting Night Fantasies of American serialist Elliott Carter.

Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street, $30; more information.

Courtesy of the artist
Jay Fluellen, whose 'Mass For the Light Becoming' will have its world premiere with the Main Line Symphony Orchestra.

Main Line Symphony Orchestra – Friday, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church

This venerable community orchestra maintains a close relationship with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra: principal timpanist Don Liuzzi is its music director, and concertmaster Paul Roby has long played in the violin section of the Philadelphians. Their concerts often feature emerging artists as soloists, and this one brings the chance to hear Peruvian Astral artist Priscila Navarro in Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. There’s also the world premiere of Mass For the Light Becoming by Jay Fluellen, a familiar composer on Philadelphia's musical scene who maintains a dedicated career in the city’s public school system; and a performance by the winner of the MLSO’s James Deitz Young Artists’ competition for student performers.

Feb. 23 at 8 p.m., Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, $15-$20, tickets and information.

Plan Ahead: Robert McCormick, organ – March 10, Church of the Good Shepherd, Bryn Mawr

The Philadelphia area is blessed with more than its share of top-tier organists, but not with ample opportunities to hear them in recital. So here’s one to put on your calendar. Robert McCormick combines fearsome technique and interpretive insight with a truly magisterial gift for imaginative improvisation. Highlights of this wide-ranging program include César Franck’s Chorale No. 1 in E major and Maurice Duruflé’s Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain, capped by a musical treat: a final improvisation on themes provided to the organist just beforehand– a musical high-wire act, since there’s no chance to plan structure or sonorities in advance.

Sunday, Mar. 10 at 3 p.m., The Church of the Good Shepherd, 1116 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, $20-$30, students $10, under 18 free; tickets and information.

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.