Despite a delicate fiscal condition, the Philadelphia Orchestra will continue its free neighborhood concert series this summer.
Three sites were chosen, each of which the orchestra has visited before: Upper Darby Performing Arts Center June 18, a new stage at Penn's Landing July 3, and, sneaking in just under the summer wire, City Hall's Dilworth Plaza Sept. 21.
Artists and repertoire have not been nailed down for the concerts, announced yesterday at City Hall by Mayor Nutter and orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore. The performances will be led by assistant conductors Rossen Milanov and Danail Rachev.
The orchestra started the neighborhood concert program in 2000, its centennial year, garnering support for many of the summers since from Wachovia, which is underwriting the effort with $220,000 this year.
"Despite some very challenging times for both organizations, our support has never wavered," said Vince Liuzzi, the bank's regional president. The concerts, he said, "are memorable not only for the music, but also for where they're held."
This year's sites were chosen after local partners expressed interest in hosting. Penn's Landing has a new covered "RiverStage" at the Great Plaza, designed in consultation with orchestra administration. Nutter has been an active public and behind-the-scenes supporter of the orchestra, which played Dilworth Plaza to great acclaim in 2008. And Upper Darby Performing Arts Center has lobbied for the orchestra's return since drawing a packed house there in 2000, orchestra spokeswoman Katherine Blodgett said.
"A lot of requests come from groups that have nice parks, but no stage," she said. The orchestra is investigating the possibility of co-owning a portable stage it could take to venues that lack a permanent concert facility, she said.
Missing from the summer music scene this year is the Philly Pops (an arm of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association), which will not perform its traditional concert on Independence Mall on July Fourth weekend. Blodgett said Historic Philadelphia, the presenter, was unable to secure funding to underwrite it.