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Tesla Quartet, Curtis Ensemble 20/21, the McGills and more

A light week, concert-wise, means that concerts will likely have packed houses, which is always good news for the artists. The bad news: two of this week’s recommendations are sold out. But sometimes life intervenes and people can’t attend — you know, that last-minute visit from Aunt Agatha — so it’s good to be on a waitlist. — Bruce Hodges

Spotlight: Tesla Quartet — Saturday, Black Squirrel Club

For some listeners, concert halls are so last-century. Especially when it comes to chamber music, why not explore other spaces? Vocalist and conductor Micah Gleason has collaborated with Norton Concerts to do exactly that. On Saturday, they inaugurate a three-concert series at The Black Squirrel Club, a former steam plant in Fishtown, with the Tesla Quartet performing works by Haydn (“The Joke”), Stacy Garrop (“Illuminations”), and Ravel’s sole, classic contribution to the string quartet canon. All of these will likely yield new insights in the Black Squirrel’s funky, industrial context — a vibe almost guaranteed to be like nothing else in town.

March 30 at 7:30 p.m., Black Squirrel Club, 1049 Sarah Street, $15 to $30; tickets and information.

Brothers Anthony (left) and Demarre (right) McGill.
Grant Park Music Festival
Brothers Anthony (left) and Demarre (right) McGill.

Anthony and Demarre McGill — Thursday, American Philosophical Society

This generous program has something for everyone: two brilliant woodwind players who happen to be brothers, a virtuoso harpist, and (yet) more evidence of the Golden Age of string quartets. As principal clarinet for the New York Philharmonic, Anthony McGill joins his sibling, Demarre McGill, who is principal flute of the Seattle Symphony. Harpist Charles Overton teaches at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and is a regular with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Catalyst Quartet offers “CQ Minute,” a micro-set of commissioned works, each just 1-2 minutes long. All of these artists combine for the finale, Ravel’s gleaming Introduction et Allegro.

The concert is sold out with a waiting list (see below) — but if you can’t be there in person, PCMS will livestream the event on a pay-as-you-wish basis. And if you can’t tune in on Thursday, the recording will be available for three days after the concert.

March 28 at 7:30 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut Street. Sold out, but call 215-569-8080 or email boxoffice@pcmsconcerts.org to join the waiting list.

Curtis Ensemble 20/21 — Saturday, Gould Rehearsal Hall

For Intersection, the latest outing from the Curtis Institute’s Ensemble 20/21, the chestnut is one of György Ligeti’s most delightful student works from 1953, his Six Bagatelles for Winds. Listeners who find some corners of the 20th century daunting may be surprised to discover these gems, which are now 70 years old. The parade of freshness and invention begins with Tuggemo (2017), for string quartet and electronics by Scottish composer Anna Meredith; the first movement from Edgar Meyer’s Concert Duo for Violin and Bass (1999); and Soli Deo Gloria (2017) for two guitars by 2023 MacArthur Fellowship recipient Courtney Bryan. The packed menu also includes Nerdz, a world premiere from Dmitri Tymoczko, who teaches at Princeton; Angélica Negrón’s dóabin (2018), inspired by a pair of twins who invented their own language; and For Fred Lerdahl (2019) by percussionist Tyshawn Sorey, another MacArthur Fellow from 2017.

March 30 at 7:30 p.m., Lenfest Hall, Gould Rehearsal Hall, 1616 Locust Street. Sold out,  but click here to join the waitlist, or call 215-893-7902 or email tickets@curtis.edu.

A Look Ahead: 

Courtesy of the artist

Wister Quartet with Guitarist Allen Krantz — April 1, Academy of Vocal Arts

“To trace the history of Boccherini’s quintets with guitar is like a thriller on the one hand and like the intrigue comedy characteristic of the 18th century on the other,” wrote musicologist Yves Gerard (1932-2020), a former professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Only a handful of those quintets survive, but you’ll have the chance to hear the first one in D minor with the Wister Quartet and guest Allen Krantz on guitar, presented by 1807 & Friends, during an evening that concludes with Mendelssohn’s Third String Quartet in D Major. In between, Krantz, head of guitar studies at Temple University, will perform two ricercare (Nos. 2 and 8) from the early Italian lute virtuoso, Francesco da Milano (1497-1543), followed by Krantz’s own Sonata for Cello and Guitar (2015) with cellist Lloyd Smith, a longtime member of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Collaborating with Smith, the quartet’s distinguished members include violinist Nancy Bean (former assistant concertmaster of the Philadelphians), violinist Meichen Liao-Barnes (a Curtis and Juilliard grad who now teaches at Temple), and violist Meng Wang (a current Orchestra member).

April 1 at 7:30 p.m., Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, $19; purchase tickets.

Ned Rorem Celebration Concert — April 2, Curtis Institute of Music

Among the many composers who studied at the venerable Curtis Institute of Music is Ned Rorem, who graduated from the school in 1944. Following his death in 2022, Rorem is receiving belated tributes, including this recital, which focuses on one of the composer’s main muses, the human voice. Demonstrating his artistry in song will be soprano Sarah Fleiss, mezzo-soprano Katie Trigg, and baritone Jarrett Ott, with Miloš Repický at the piano. Also during the evening is Rorem’s Piano Sonata No. 2 (1949), which John von Rhein, former classical critic of the Chicago Tribune, called “thoroughly French in sensibility.” The formidable pianist will be Amy Yang, Associate Dean of Piano Studies and Artistic Initiatives at Curtis.

April 2 at 7:30 p.m., Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust Street, $27; 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.