The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts has signed on a new resident company. The Curtis Institute of Music joined the roster effective Wednesday, making it the Kimmel's first new resident company since its opening in December 2001.
As far as the listening public is concerned, little will change with the start of the five-year contract. Curtis ensembles have performed at the Kimmel from the start - its orchestra in Verizon Hall and operas in the Perelman Theater. But as a resident company, Curtis will receive breaks on rental fees and priority scheduling, and will be featured in Kimmel marketing and advertising.
The new relationship is also a manifestation of a shift in the Kimmel's mission that has been applauded by local foundations such as the Pew Charitable Trusts - importing little classical music (no more visiting orchestras) while putting resources into rent subsidies and other kinds of support for indigenous groups.
"This memorializes the relationship we've had with the Kimmel Center since it opened," said Curtis executive vice president and COO Elizabeth Warshawer. "We will continue to do three orchestra concerts per year and will expand our use of the Perelman for opera, which is a wonderful venue in that it has an orchestra pit that is the appropriate size to do the kind of opera [we] want to do."
Curtis is scheduled to perform opera in the newly reopened Prince in May and November - "and then we'll see going forward," she said. Curtis performs one opera per year, but will increase that to two productions a year in the Perelman, possibly adding a third, she said.
Sources said orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore had raised concerns over the addition of Curtis as a resident company, slowing down negotiations. An orchestra spokeswoman said Vulgamore was taking a vacation day Thursday and unavailable to address questions.
Kimmel president Anne Ewers said she was particularly excited about further development of projects with Curtis in the small, subterranean SEI Innovation Studio. This year, the two copresented performances of Riley's landmark of minimalism In C and Stravinsky's A Soldier's Tale. The appeal of bringing on Curtis, said Ewers, was "the chance for the Kimmel Center to have a strong resident company that is superb artistically, financially sound, and a great collaborator. Certainly the work in the SEI Innovation Studio is exciting for us."
The addition of Curtis brings to nine the roster of resident companies for the Kimmel, which also manages the Academy of Music. Most of the companies - such as the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society - regularly perform elsewhere. The fate of one company, American Theater Arts for Youth, is uncertain. The children's theater company this season is on hiatus, and Ewers said it remained unclear whether it would return in the fall.