by MICHAEL CARUSO
The Buxtehude Consort, founded and directed by baritone John Fowler, will perform a concert of Passion Cantatas by J.S. Bach, Heinrich von Biber, Dietrich Buxtehude and G.P. Telemann 8 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 22 East Chestnut Hill Ave.
Featured singers include soprano Molly Quinn, alto Jennifer Smith and Fowler. The singers will be accompanied by a period instruments ensemble and organ. Violinist Marika Holmqvist will also play “The Crucifixion” from Biber’s “Mystery” Sonatas. Tickets are available at the door; visit www.buxtehudeconsort.org.
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave. will host a concert 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, presented by Singing City Choir. The ensemble, Svitanya, will perform a program of Eastern European folk music. Tickets are $25, and proceeds will help defray the costs of Singing City’s tour of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia this July. Singing City was founded in 1948 by Elaine Brown and is currently directed by Jeffrey Brillhart, organist and music director of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Visit www.singingcity.org.
Wyndmoor’s Patricia Manley has bold plans for the Willow Grove Branch of Settlement Music School. Formerly the director of Settlement’s Germantown Branch, Manley took over the reins in Willow Grove in September of 2011 upon the retirement of Marsha Hogan.
Manley said that raising the new facility’s profile in the community is probably her biggest goal. The building, located at 318 Davisville Rd. in Willow Grove, opened in January of 2011. Settlement’s only suburban branch outgrew its leased space in Jenkintown, where it operated for nearly three decades. Settlement Music School was founded in 1908 in the Queen Village section of South Philadelphia. The entire system now boasts six branches: five in Greater Philadelphia and one in Camden, New Jersey.
One of the new facility’s most stunning attributes is the Leonard Mellman Recital Hall. It will be the site of a free duo-piano recital 7 p.m. Friday, April 20, featuring Yuko Izuhara Gordon and Keiko Kurachi. Their program includes Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D major,” Brahms’ “Variation on a Theme by Haydn,” Milhaud’s “Scaramouche Suite for Two Pianos,” Poulenc’s “Sonata for Two Pianos” and more. For more information, call 215-320-2630 or visit www.smsmusic.org.
Esa-Pekka Salonen guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra March 29-31 in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. The former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic led the Philadelphians in Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta,” Debussy’s “La Mer” and his own Violin Concerto, with Curtis Institute of Music alumna Leila Josefowicz as soloist in the 2008 score.
Salonen’s splendid work on the podium Saturday night revealed the incredible level of talent that enabled him to bring the Los Angeles Philharmonic into the top rung of American orchestras. Michael Tilson Thomas has accomplished the same feat further north in California with the San Francisco Symphony, giving the state two entries in the newly minted “Big Seven,” joining Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, New York and Philadelphia (the former “Big Five”). As a composer, the Finnish-born maestro is universally regarded as a leading force in the restoration of accessibility to contemporary classical music.
Divided into four contrasting and evocative movements, Salonen’s Violin Concerto is a convincing synthesis of impressionism, neo-classicism, post romanticism and jazz. Timbres, scorings and rhythms are beautifully varied, while melodies and harmonies challenge the listener to follow them throughout their developmental journey.
That challenge was easily met because of Josefowicz’ superb playing Saturday evening. The young woman is incapable of producing anything short of a gorgeous tone. Not surprisingly, the composer accompanied her flawlessly.