Local ensembles offer more matinees than ever

by Michael Caruso
Posted 9/14/23

When I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s, Sunday matinees were a common and frequent offering by many classical music ensembles throughout the country, including those here in Philadelphia. Then, in …

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Local ensembles offer more matinees than ever


When I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s, Sunday matinees were a common and frequent offering by many classical music ensembles throughout the country, including those here in Philadelphia. Then, in subsequent seasons, they became rarer and fewer in number.

Well, they’re back. Among the region’s most active classical music ensembles, both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society will be proffering a plethora of afternoon concerts and recitals this season.

For the record, music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin will open the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2023-24 season with a gala early evening performance on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, its official home since 2000. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will be his guest soloist, performing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto.

The program also includes Jennifer Higdon’s “Fanfare Ritmico.” Higdon, one the world’s leading classical composers, is on the faculty at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Curtis, along with New York’s Juilliard School of Music and the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore (a part of the Johns Hopkins University) form an exalted trio among America’s music conservatories.

The program’s remaining work is the “Symphonic Dances,” Opus 45, of Sergei Rachmaninoff. The Russian master dedicated the score, his final major work written shortly before his death in 1943, to Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ormandy was music director of the “Fabulous Philadelphians” from 1936-1980, the longest tenure for any maestro at the helm of any major ensemble. The “Symphonic Dances” was premiered in 1941.

Rachmaninoff recorded all four of his piano concerti and the “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” Opus 43, with the Philadelphia Orchestra under either Ormandy’s or Leopold Stokowski’s baton. “Stoki,” as he was affectionately called, led the ensemble from 1912 through 1938, sharing the directorship with Ormandy for those final two seasons.

Rachmaninoff often said that whenever he composed for orchestra, he thought of the famous “Philadelphia Sound” when he conceived the score. It was Stokowski and the Philadelphians who premiered Rachmaninoff’s Third Symphony, Opus 44, in 1936.

Over the span of the Orchestra’s concerts in 2023, it will offer two o’clock matinee performances of five out of its six programs. Nezet-Seguin will be joined by pianist Danil Trifonov on Sunday, Oct. 8.; principal bassoonist Daniel Matsukawa of West Mt. Airy will be the soloist on Friday, Oct. 3; principal hornist Jennifer Montone will be featured on Sunday, Oct. 22; pianist Javier Perianes will be the soloist Sunday, Dec. 3; and pianist Helene Grimaud joins Yannick Sunday, Dec. 10 for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor.

For more information visit

Chamber Music Society

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is a success story not just within the confines of Greater Philadelphia. It is one of the leading presenters of chamber music throughout the country. It offers a vast variety of music and musicians to local lovers of chamber music, that most intimate of settings of classical music.

From the season opener on Oct. 18 through its conclusion this calendar year on Dec. 15, PCMS will offer three Sunday matinees at three o’clock. The first will present Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist Ricardo Morales, violist Robert Diaz (President of the Curtis Institute), cellist Efe Baltacigil, and pianist Natalie Zhu on Oct. 33 in the American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut St, Old City Philadelphia. They will play music by Beethoven, Husa, Bruch and Brahms.

Flutist Marina Piccinini, violinist Hye-Jin Kim, cellist Peter Stumpf, and pianist Cynthia Raim will perform music by Weber, Villa-Lobos, Schubert and Mozart on Nov. 12 at the American Philosophical Society. Finally, the Formosa Quartet will be joined by violist Hsin-Yun Huang and cellist Peter Wiley for a program of music by Haydn and Dvorak on Dec. 3 at the American Philosophical Society.

For more information call 215-569-8080 or visit

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