New Season Opening Up Kimmel’s Music Box

After four years in operation, is the Kimmel Center Inc. – which manages Verizon Hall and the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the refurbished Academy of Music – satisfied?

Sure, these facilities serve as the home venues for our most prominent performing arts organizations, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet. Although the concerts of these groups have been generally well-supported by Delaware Valley residents, the artistic management team is looking beyond what they have now, anxious that these world-class facilities become venues for performances that will appeal to ever larger and more diverse audiences.

Mervon Mehta, the organization's vice president for programming and education, recently described his efforts to grow Kimmel Center attendance: "It is very important for the building to appeal to everyone."

What sets this season apart from previous years is the dramatic infusion of sounds drawn from contemporary musical cultures, including jazz, pop and world music. Tony Bennett has already opened the Verizon Hall season, and he'll be followed by Los Lobos, Chick Corea, separate evenings with Ellis and Wynton Marsalis, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Band (directed by Slide Hampton) and the eternally youthful Jerry Blavat, presenting a program of golden rock oldies.

The Mellon Jazz Series includes numerous offerings selected by "Pan-American Jazz" performer Danilo Perez.

Mehta's passion for world music is reflected in an unusual six-part series titled "World Pop Mix," including 11-time Grammy winner Emmylou Harris.

The primary tenant in Verizon Hall is, of course, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and our famous Philadelphians perform their local subscription series concerts in the building designed to be their new home for a 91?2-month season.

Is there any jealousy? Far from it: According to Mehta, the management of the Philadelphia Orchestra is happy that Verizon Hall is a multipurpose facility: "They like the fact that we bring in five visiting orchestras and numerous solo recitals."

For example, the series "Great Orchestras on Tour" is bringing in, among others, the New York Philharmonic; the Berlin Staatskapelle and Daniel Barenboim conducting and playing the piano; and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with local organist Jeffrey Brillhart.

Other classical offerings include Israeli superstar fiddlers Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zuckerman, together.

During the third and fourth weeks of May, the Kimmel Center is mounting a fascinating two-week organ festival celebrating the completion of the Verizon Hall organ. It will include classical recitals, organ music for silent movies, and a tour of major organs in Center City – including the organ at Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

For dates, times, and ticket information, call 215-790-5800 or visit: www.kimmelcenter. org.

Cantor David F. Tilman, conductor and music educator, serves as chazzan of Beth Sholom Congregation and synagogue-skills instructor at the Forman Center of the Perelman Jewish Day School.



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