Unable to physically gather as an ensemble, the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform online — their individual sounds assembled digitally into a whole — in a June 6 "at home” gala fund-raiser.
Steve Martin, Wynton Marsalis, pianist Lang Lang and violinist Nicola Benedetti will also perform virtually as part of the event. Hosted by the orchestra’s music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the gala is intended as both a “thank you” to listeners who have supported the orchestra during the coronavirus shutdown, as well as a fund-raiser, said orchestra president and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky.
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“We wanted a moment of celebration. This is about sharing the joy of music,” he said.
The hour-long presentation will be a mix of live and prerecorded elements. The full list of repertoire is yet to be determined, an orchestra spokesperson said.
Violist Beatrice Chen, 2019 junior division winner of the orchestra’s Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition, will perform.
The orchestra has commissioned a new work from Valerie Coleman especially for the gala, a piece that pays tribute to frontline workers in the coronavirus pandemic. Seven O’Clock Shout begins with a distant solo of two trumpets, “to commemorate the isolation forced upon human kind, and the need to reach out to one another,” writes Coleman in a program note to the piece. “The fanfare blossoms into a lushly dense landscape of nature, symbolizing both the caregiving acts of nurses and doctors as they try to save lives, while nature is transforming and healing herself during a time of self-isolation.”
The Coleman work will be played and recorded by individual orchestra members in their homes, with their sounds professionally mixed, as will be the case with a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise that will be set to visuals that Tarnopolsky calls “a kind of love letter to Philadelphia.”