Philadelphia Orchestra season elevates women, honors monumental composer

Steve Tawa
March 06, 2019 - 4:00 am
The Philadelphia Orchestra

Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Orchestra

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As The Philadelphia Orchestra sets the stage for its next season, it will mark the birthday of one of classical music's monumental composers, as well as a celebration of female innovators and creators.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct all nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven to toast his 250th birthday.

"My vision of Beethoven is that he is now this great, classic," he said, "this monument, like a statue, and imposing figure."

But that wasn't so in his day, when he composed his most daring compositions in the early 1800s, challenging musical norms and transforming the symphonic canon forever.

"Actually, Beethoven was obsessed with shaking the conventions and shocking his audience and forward-thinking. His preoccupations were social, political and environmental," Nézet-Séguin added.

While they will pay tribute to the composer, Nézet-Séguin said audiences can expect to hear his music differently.

"I'm convinced and I promise you if you come to the hall, you will be unsettled by just the approach to Beethoven," he said.

The maestro was also delighted to say one pillar of next season is called "WomenNOW."

"We are creating now a pipeline where we can actually work with the composers with the orchestra," he said.

Throughout the year, audiences will hear compositions by 12 women.

To open the season, the orchestra will premiere a work called "Umoja" by American composer and performer Valerie Coleman. 

"There's a creative spark in each and every single one of us," Coleman told School District of Philadelphia students at the season announcement.

She hopes they'll be inspired to create their own music.

"Diversity is key, whether it's diversity of opinion, heritage or gender — that gives us perspectives to fertilize and nurture the soil and allow musical ideas to grow."