Hidden from small

The Philadelphia Orchestra Continues to Travel the World

February 12, 2018

As part of its commitment to cultural diplomacy, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will tour Europe and Israel from May 24 through June 5, 2018. The visit to Israel—in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia—coincides with 70 years of U.S.-Israeli relations and marks only the second time the Orchestra has traveled there; its inaugural visit was in 1992.

From its earliest days, The Philadelphia Orchestra has traveled beyond its hometown borders. Just four days after its first concert, in November 1900, the ensemble dipped its toes into the touring pool by performing in nearby Reading, PA. Over the next 27 years the boundaries gradually expanded to include such metropolises as New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, and Detroit, as well as smaller cities such as Lima (OH), Meriden (CT), North Adams (MA), and Ypsilanti (MI). 

Leopold Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra leave on the 1936 trans-continental tour, during which they traveled 11,000 miles and performed 33 concerts in 30 days. Photo: Thompson (Philadelphia Orchestra Association Archives)

Then, from April to May 1936, under Leopold Stokowski’s baton, the Orchestra undertook a mammoth transcontinental train tour, traveling 11,000 miles and performing 33 concerts in 30 days. Since then the Fabulous Philadelphians have become one of the most widely traveled orchestras in the world, performing across America, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and South America.

This spring, when the Orchestra returns to Europe, it will be 69 years after its first visit, a voyage by boat to Great Britain consisting of 28 concerts in 27 days. The 2018 Tour brings the Philadelphia Sound to devoted fans in Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris (a debut at the Jean Nouvel-designed Philharmonie de Paris), Düsseldorf, Hamburg (a debut at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Elbphilharmonie), Vienna, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. Click here for a complete listing of concert information.

The Orchestra embarking from New York on its first overseas tour, to Great Britain in 1949, performing 28 concerts in 27 days. Photo: Jules Schick (Philadelphia Orchestra Association Archives)

The Philadelphia Orchestra is only the third major American symphony to visit Israel since its founding, and the only major American symphony orchestra to travel there during this anniversary year. This tour also continues a tradition of Philadelphia Orchestra celebrations of important U.S.-Israeli anniversaries. The ensemble marked the 50th and 60th anniversaries of U.S.-Iraeli relations with special concert programs in Philadelphia, including a 1998 “side-by-side” concert with the Israel Philharmonic.

“To have this remarkable opportunity to travel to Israel with the extraordinary Philadelphia Orchestra is a dream come true,” said Nézet-Séguin, who will make his first visit to Israel on this tour. “I also look forward to returning to Europe, where classical music is so deeply admired, and where we will bring our distinctive sound to some of the world’s most esteemed concert halls.”

WRTI 90.1 FM will bring the excitement of the tour to audiences back home. Concerts on May 29 in Hamburg, June 1 in Vienna, June 4 in Tel Aviv, and June 5 in Jerusalem will be simulcast to the U.S. and hosted by WRTI’s Gregg Whiteside. WRTI is the classical music station in Philadelphia and radio partner of the Orchestra. Additionally, the second half of the May 26 concert in Paris will be recorded for delayed broadcast via France Musique; the May 29 concert in Hamburg will be recorded for delayed broadcast via NDR; the June 1 concert in Vienna will be recorded for delayed broadcast across Europe through the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF; and the June 4 performance in Tel Aviv will be recorded for delayed broadcast throughout Israel on Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation KAN.

In addition to delivering exceptional performances, the Orchestra is committed to cultural diplomacy, using music to bring people and cultures together in ways that would not otherwise take place. While in Israel, Orchestra musicians will participate in residency activities, which will include master classes with students from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, a pop-up concert at Tel Aviv University, and an arts administration roundtable. Learn more about the 2018 Tour residency activities here. These activities in residence have become a hallmark of the Orchestra’s tours and have influenced its work offstage in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Riccardo Muti acknowledge the audience's applause following a concert in Tel Aviv on the ensemble's first tour to Israel, in 1992. Photo: Jean Brubaker

The Israel portion of the itinerary will also include a special patron tour and mission from June 1 through 7, 2018, led by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. An immersive exploration of music, food, history, and Israeli modern-day life, the patron tour will include Orchestra events and a culinary adventure led and curated by renowned Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov, known for his landmark Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav. Highlights of the patron tour include a walking tour of Jaffa with dual perspectives from Jewish and Arab guides; a briefing on the state of Israel today with journalist Alon Ben-David; and culinary tours of the Negev and Jerusalem, and a prepared dinner in the desert. For more information about the patron tour, visit https://jewishphilly.org/orchestratour.

In partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia, the tour will also bring a business delegation to promote state and city trade and tourism. This group of business leaders will develop and strengthen bonds with key European and Israeli counterparts. Business delegation trips on past tours have resulted in foreign investment in Pennsylvania and the creation of new jobs.

Touring is an important part of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s mission as cultural diplomats, and its work has been recognized by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and by numerous ambassadors and the Commonwealth. Cultural diplomacy benefits Philadelphia by bringing new arts and business opportunities to the region and the markets where the Orchestra performs, and is uniquely fulfilling to the musicians. Being on the road helps The Philadelphia Orchestra offer its music to patrons around the world, and creates real home-town pride for all Philadelphians.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2018 Tour of Europe and Israel is supported by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Team PA. PHLCVB is a supporting sponsor of the Europe portion of the tour. Lead support for the Israel portion of the tour comes from the Neubauer Family Foundation and Constance Smukler. Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) is the official education and healthcare partner for the Israel portion of the tour. The trip is being coordinated with the formal inauguration of the Jefferson Israel Center, one of several multi-institutional collaborations with Jefferson and Israel. Additional support for the Israel portion of the tour comes from Marcy Gringlas and Joel Greenberg, Seed the Dream Foundation; John H. McFadden and Lisa D. Kabnick; Sandy and David Marshall; Joan N. Stern in memory of Clarence and Diana Stern; Miriam Klein Charitable Foundation; the Leslie and Richard Worley Foundation; the Paul E. Singer Foundation; Tobey and Mark Dichter; the Moses Feldman Foundation; Rachelle and Ron Kaiserman; Lynn and Joe Manko; Sherrie R. Savett; Adele K. Schaeffer; and Joseph S. and Renee M. Zuritsky.