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May 18, 2012

Stokowski Celebration Concerts - Concert Creators Catch Up

Whether it was pure fate or simple scheduling karma, this week I had a chance to meet up with Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Europe. We were able to update each other on the preparations for the Stokowski Celebration concerts in the Academy of Music June 21-23.

May 17, 2012


Hello! James Alexander, stage director for the June Stokowski Celebration concerts here! 

In this latest blog in our series I want to show you how I’m aiming to complement Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s re-telling of Rimsky-Korsakov’s evocative Sheherazade

As for the eye-catching bespoke imagery being created for this concert, like the composer himself, I am eschewing a definitive narrative. Rather, I’m endeavoring to offer images which accompany this dazzling and colorful score and offer you a visual thematic fantasy.

May 08, 2012

Bach - Toccata and Fugue

In this latest blog post James Alexander, the stage director responsible for the physical presentation of the four Stokowski Celebration concerts in June, shares what he saw in his mind’s eye when he listened to Stokowski’s landmark orchestral arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the composer’s most famous work in the organ repertoire. 

James then goes on to enlighten us as to what happens to his “napkin sketches” once he shares them with his creative special effects team at Symphony V.0. 

May 07, 2012

Week two recap from the second round of Audience Choice voting

Here are the results from the second week of our second round of voting for the June 23 Audience Choice program:

Current frontrunners for the concert opener

-          Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor

-          Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre

Most votes for Fantasia selections (these will be performed alongside Disney animations)

May 02, 2012

The results are in - week one recap from the second round of Audience Choice voting

The last post offered a bit of insight into how Stokowski conducted an audience choice program at the end of his first season with the Orchestra in 1913. Take a look at the great news clip we uncovered about this subject if you haven’t already. Onto the present day: Results are in from the first week of our second round of voting for the June 23 Audience Choice program. Below are the top choices from each category.

Current frontrunners for the concert opener

May 02, 2012

Audience choice - 1913 style

It was tradition during Stokowski’s tenure to end each season with a program selected by the audience. That’s why this year’s Stokowski Celebration will conclude with a concert chosen by our own concertgoers—voting for this year’s program is open via our website and by paper ballots through May 18. As we mapped out our 21st-century version of an Audience Choice contest, the question came up more than once of how Stokowski implemented his audience programs in Philadelphia almost a century ago.

May 01, 2012

Stokowski Celebration Concerts - The creative voyage

In this post, Stage Director James Alexander introduces himself and invites you, the Philadelphia Orchestra audience, to explore some of the steps of his creative journey.

Taking us through some key moments of how he imagines his stagings for these four celebratory concerts, James shares what happens for him when he hears music, how he translates the images he conjures up, and how he communicates these to, and collaborates with, his key lighting, graphics, and special effects designers.

April 30, 2012

Stokowski's podium

Stokowski left no element of the concert presentation untouched. He put his personal mark on every aspect of the performance, whether it dealt with the concertgoer’s live experience in the hall, the radio broadcast for at-home listeners, or how the Orchestra was heard in recordings. More on that in future posts.

April 24, 2012

Stokowski Celebration Concerts – Bringing modern-day “magic” to the Academy of Music

The Stokowski Celebration concerts this June are the first events of a year-long celebration of Leopold Stokowski’s inaugural season as conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra. In a series of four concerts conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Orchestra returns home to the Academy of Music on June 21-23. These performances will both pay tribute to and carry forward Stokowski’s tradition of innovation and vibrancy. Renowned opera and theater director James Alexander was commissioned by the Orchestra to stage these celebratory concerts.

April 23, 2012

Stokowski’s first program

Here is the actual program page from Stokowski’s first concert after taking over the leadership of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Yannick will lead a near-replica of this program at the Academy in June … nearly 100 years later. As you can see, the original program opened with a Beethoven overture. Audiences were perhaps used to lengthier concerts at the time. But don’t worry; we have our own surprises for the Academy concerts in June.

Here’s what the Star said about that historic day in 1912: