The future appeared in June with the naming of Canadian Yannick Nezet-Seguin as the Philadelphia Orchestra's eighth music director.
This charismatic, brilliantly talented musician will taper down his posts in Rotterdam, London and Montreal before taking over the reins in fall 2012. He was scheduled for only two programs this season, and audience members waited up to an hour to greet the 35-year-old maestro after the first in November.
This atypically gutsy move by the orchestra should juice up its image.
The Opera Company of Philadelphia took 35 members of its "La Traviata" cast to the Reading Terminal in April, stunning chowhounds with an unexpected reading of the "Brindisi" drinking song.
The 3 million-plus hits on YouTube of this "flash opera" started the wheels spinning. In October, the company assembled 650 area singers for a surprise "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's "Messiah" in Macy's Center City, accompanied by the huge Wanamaker Organ.
One of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture," it was the most viewed video on Philly.com, shared on Facebook in 100 countries and November's top entertainment video on YouTube.
In other highlights of an eventful year, Network for New Music celebrated 25 years of spurring contemporary music with 26 composers giving their take on Beethoven's Diabelli theme. Other works by more than 52 composers have contributed through the years, making the ensemble a major national force.
And the Academy of Vocal Arts outgrew its lovely but small Warden Theater, taking its commission of local composer Margaret Garwood's brilliant "Scarlet Letter" to the Merriam Theater in November.
A recent Philadelphia arts-and-culture study found a high "creative vitality index" for the arts as a business and social draw here compared with most cities. Having seen the crowds at the concerts, ballet and theater, and in our galleries and museums, who don't know that?