Tempesta di Mare and Chamber Orchestra announce new seasons

by Michael Caruso
Posted 8/31/23

Local classical music lovers are lucky when it comes to hearing “live” performances of music taken from the chamber orchestra repertoire.

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Tempesta di Mare and Chamber Orchestra announce new seasons


Local classical music lovers are lucky when it comes to hearing “live” performances of music taken from the chamber orchestra repertoire. Not only do we have the two seasons of Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia to choose from, but that choice entails the added distinction that the former plays on period instruments of the 17th & 18th centuries while the latter employs the modern versions of those same instruments.

Gwyn Roberts and Richard Stone, co-founders and co-directors of Tempesta di Mare, have announced a season that focuses on composers that audiences have loved since they wrote their music in the late 17th and early to middle 18th centuries. Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi form what is often called the “Baroque Trinity” because their scores tower above those of their contemporaries.

It's an interesting twist that Handel forms something of the connecting bridge between the other two. While he, like Bach, was born in Germany (and in the same year of 1685), Handel studied in Italy, where Vivaldi was born and worked almost exclusively throughout his life.

Highlights of the season include Bach’s Violin Concerto in E major, with Tempesta’s concertmaster Emlyn Ngai as soloist; Handel’s “Water Music” with horn players Todd Williams and Nate Udell; and Vivaldi’s rarely heard dramatic oratorio, “Juditha Triumphas,” with vocal soloists Meg Bragle, Kirsten Sollek, Rebecca Meyers, Grabriela Estephanie Solis, and the Madrigal Choir of the University of Pennsylvania.

The local 2023-24 season opens with “Violin & Fortepiano” Saturday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m. in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill. It continues with “Handel & Vivaldi” Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill (PCCH); “Unmatched” Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in PCCH; “Cruel Amaryllis” Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, at 7:30 p.m. in PCCH; “A Song’s Journey” Saturday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m. in the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill; Vivaldi’s “Judith Triumphant” Saturday, March 26, at 4 p.m. in the Irvine Auditorium of the University of Pennsylvania; “Bach & Telemann” Sunday, April 28, at 4 p.m. in PCCH; and closes with “Viol, Flute & Theorbo” Saturday, May 19, at 5 p.m. in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

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Chamber Orchestra

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia began its existence in 1964 when Marc Mostovoy founded the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia. By the year 2000, when the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts opened at Broad and Spruce Streets in Center City Philadelphia, Ignat Solzhenitsyn had become the ensemble’s music director and its name had been changed to the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Its principal home is the Kimmel’s Perelman Theater and its current music director is the Belgian-born maestro, Dirk Brosse.

The Chamber Orchestra will open its season Friday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (with Francisco Fullana as soloist) plus the composer’s Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Italian” Symphony No. 4 in A major. The season continues Friday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 5, at 2:30 p.m. with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat major (with Min-Young Kim as soloist and leader) plus the composer’s Symphony No. 29 in A major. The program also boasts Saint-Georges’ Symphony No. in D major.

Evan Williams will conduct his own “A Little Mass for Christmas” and Vivaldi’s “Gloria” Friday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2:30 p.m. Jeffrey Brilliant, the longtime music director of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, will conduct and play the harpsichord in the four Orchestral Suites of Bach Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 21, at 2:30 p.m.

A program of music by Rameau, Leclair and Locatelli will be led by Geoffrey McDonald Friday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 18, at 2:30 p.m. Alana Youssefian will be his soloist. Brosse will conduct music by Shostakovich and Schoenberg Friday, April 19, at 7;30 p.m. and Sunday, April 21, at 2:30 p.m. Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will join Brosse Friday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 19, at 2:30 p.m. for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, plus George Walker’s “Lyric for Stings” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major.

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