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Fanfare for July: Marcus Roberts at the Mann, Black Pearl and more

As “high summer holds the earth” in the words of James Agee, things quiet down musically in Philadelphia. Even so, there are still plenty of wonderful performances to attend; both outdoors and in with the air conditioning!


Spotlight: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue — July 24, TD Pavilion at The Mann Center

The Mann Center will host the fabulous Philadelphians in a program highlighting the work of Black American composers and celebrating the 100th anniversary of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Music by Adolphus Hailstork and Florence Price is paired with James P. Johnson’s Victory Stride. This epic piece by the father of stride piano is a perfect transition to Gershwin’s classical and jazz infused Rhapsody in Blue, led by Marcus Roberts, one of the finest jazz pianists working today. A performer closely attuned to his audience, this will be a thrilling evening of music!

July 24 at 8 p.m., TD Pavilion at The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue, $28-$73; tickets and information.

Il Matrimonio Segreto — July 6, 10 and 14, Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center

The Delaware Valley Opera Company brings 18th-century fun into the present with Domenico Cimarosa’s comic opera Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage). A family drama with a happy ending, the performances are sung in Italian with English subtitles, so you won’t miss any of the plot twists.

July 6 at 8 p.m., July 10 at 8 p.m., and July 14 at 3 p.m., Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, 7 Lock Street, $15-$30; tickets and information.

Courtesy of the artist

Michael Feinstein: Because of You — July 7, Open Air Theater, Longwood Gardens

The master of the Great American Songbook brings his charismatic and moving tribute to Tony Bennett to the beautiful outdoor theatre at Longwood Gardens. The performance is sold out, but you can click here for updated information.

July 7 at 7:30 p.m., Open Air Theatre, Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, sold out; more information.

Funny Girl — July 16-28, Academy of Music

One of the most iconic musicals of the early 20th century, with a great score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, Funny Girl is the story of a young girl who dreams of a life on stage. With iconic songs like “People” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” this Broadway touring production will bring you to your feet.

Various performances from July 16 to 28, The Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street, $49- $99; tickets and information.

Black Pearl’s Kaleidoscope Concert — July 25, First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia

Join local ensemble Black Pearl in a celebration of diverse and dynamic artistic voices as they seek to expand the classical music canon. The Kaleidoscope concert presents music by the winners of the Kaleidoscope Initiative alongside Jessie Montgomery’s Source Code as well as other works by members of the orchestra.

July 25 at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, 2125 Chestnut Street, $20; tickets and more information.

Charlotte Hu July 27, Academy of Vocal Arts

Pianist Charlotte Hu is the founder and President of the Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy (PYPA), an organization created to support young artists in their desire to become professional pianists. The Steinway artist and Temple University Artist-in Residence will open the festival with a program fittingly featuring the music of Franz Liszt, himself a virtuoso pianist as well as composer.

July 27 at 7:30 p.m., Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, $28; tickets and more information.

Pierre and Sophié van der Westhuizen
Chris McGuire
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Courtesy of the artist
Pierre and Sophié van der Westhuizen

Westhuizen Duo July 28, Academy of Vocal Arts

The PYPA Piano Festival continues with an evening of music for piano four hands. Pierre and Sophié van der Westhuizen present a program of music by Schubert, Dvořák and Poulenc as well as Ravel’s Ma mère l'Oye.

July 28 at 4 p.m., Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, $28; tickets and more information.

As a young violinist, Meg Bragle regularly listened to her local classical music station and loved calling in on Saturday mornings to request pieces, usually by Beethoven. The hosts were always kind and played her requests (often the Fifth Symphony), fostering a genuine love for radio.