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How do national pride and love of homeland influence a great artist? That's another theme of our season, beautifully launched with these three works. Yannick is joined by Gil Shaham, who has been captivating our audiences for more than 25 years. He brings his magnificent virtuosity to Bartók's post-Romantic Violin Concerto No. 2, infused with the sounds and colors of Hungarian folk tunes.
A beloved Orchestra collaborator, Donald Runnicles returns for a two-week visit. A work of devastating emotion, Elgar's Cello Concerto, composed amidst the ruins of the Great War, received its U.S. premiere with the Philadelphians and Leopold Stokowski. For these performances we welcome back the exhilarating cellist Johannes Moser, whose smashing subscription debut in 2014 left audiences clamoring for more. Beethoven's irrepressible Symphony No. 8 opens our program. It's injected with humor, refusing to hint at the personal and physical ills that plagued him at the time.
Why didn't Brahms write a cello concerto? This is his cello concerto, says Principal Cello Hai-Ye Ni, who grabs the spotlight in the virtuosic opening cadenza. The bold and soaring "Double" Concerto is one of Brahms's most popular works. How do these two Philadelphia Orchestra virtuosos describe it? A big, monumental work that's "also like chamber music," says Ni. "The solo parts are difficult. The orchestra parts are difficult," adds Kim.
Two Schumann masterpieces bookend Mozart in this tribute to musical genius. Joining the Orchestra is Curtis graduate (and now faculty member) pianist Jonathan Biss, who brings his special touch for Mozart's music to the composer's final Piano Concerto, a work widely considered among his greatest masterpieces. Schumann, an accomplished pianist himself, was in the prime of his career and newly married to his beloved wife, Clara, when he wrote his propulsive D-minor Symphony in 1841. Schumann also created instrumental music inspired by Lord Byron's poem Manfred in the late 1840s.
"Nothing is more sacred to me than music," says American composer and jazz trumpeter Hannibal, who grew up among the cotton fields of Texas. A pastiche of spirituals, blues, and traditional African rhythms still influence his music-writing today. The Philadelphia Orchestra performed his highly acclaimed African Portraits, detailing the slave experience, in 1997, and two years later gave the world premiere of his One Heart Beating, one of the Orchestra's Centennial Commissions. ("The strings, lord have mercy!" Hannibal told the Philadelphia Daily News.
A very good friend of The Philadelphia Orchestra, the much-sought after Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda returns to lead two programs of musical travelogues. This first program kicks off the wintry season traversing the icy landscapes of Finland, Poland, and Russia.
In the second week of his residency, Milanese conductor Gianandrea Noseda leads Rachmaninoff's witty and challenging Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The composer had the Philadelphia Sound in his head when he wrote the piece. The Rhapsody--with the famous melody of its 18th variation--was given its 1934 world premiere by the Philadelphians in Baltimore before bringing it to Philadelphia and New York with Stokowski conducting and Rachmaninoff at the keyboard.
12/18-12/19 will not be offered through the eZseatU program
Back by popular demand, the multi-talented Bramwell Tovey (he's a Grammy-winning conductor, composer, pianist, and narrator) is coming to town, full of holiday merriment. From favorite traditional carols to Tovey's own artistic offerings, like his original "Rittenhouse Carol," our Glorious Sound of Christmas concerts are guaranteed to get you in the spirit of the season. At the heart? "The core of it all is the humanity of the players," says Tovey. He's thrilled to be a part of the Philadelphians' "exalted" music-making … and you will be too!
Conductor Fabio Luisi made his vibrant Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2011. He returns with a rousing program of Russian favorites. Glinka's dashing Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila is our curtain-raiser, setting the stage for the brilliant Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with good friend Christian Tetzlaff doing the honors as soloist. The program ends in grand style with Tchaikovsky's last symphony, the popular Sixth. It premiered in St. Petersburg in 1893, just nine days before the composer's unexplained death.
In this case, Vienna is a movable feast! Though closely associated with the Austrian capital, Haydn wrote his "Drum Roll" Symphony during one of his famous visits to London. The piece begins with a dramatic timpani roll; its final movement kicks off with a horn call. The sound of the hunt echoes in Bruckner's popular Fourth Symphony ("Romantic"), which premiered in Vienna in 1881 and was the only one of his nine symphonies the composer nicknamed. "Pastoral" might also be an apt description as the mountain scenes and peasant surroundings of the composer's Austrian countryside come to life.
We end our sojourn in Vienna with three more legendary works, exemplifying the rich heritage of this unparalleled musical capital. Webern's Im Sommerwind (In the Summer Wind), a richly orchestrated tone poem in the late-Romantic style, is a glorious evocation of a summer's day. The Philadelphia Orchestra gave the world premiere in 1962 at a three-day Webern Festival in Seattle with Ormandy conducting. Schumann also spent time composing in Vienna. The incredible Leif Ove Andsnes brings out all the wonder of the Piano Concerto, Schumann's only one, which was years in the making.
Samuel Barber was just 21 when he wrote the lush, vibrant Overture to The School for Scandal. It was premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1933, a year before the composer graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. Barber could be considered the American Brahms and we've put these two masters together so you can decide for yourself. Brahms's splendid Violin Concerto is the perfect showpiece for our soloist, Augustin Hadelich (who debuted with the Orchestra in 2013 to rapturous acclaim). Brahms was also a great champion of Antonin Dvorak.
Any time we have Yefim Bronfman playing Beethoven with Vladimir Jurowski is a special occasion! With eloquent support from Jurowski and the Orchestra, Bronfman brings his magisterial keyboard skills to Beethoven's towering "Emperor" Concerto, revealing all the wonders of this masterwork. In the second half of the program, Jurowski turns to Nikolai Miaskovsky, a prolific composer whose Tenth Symphony is based on a fantastic Pushkin poem.
Yannick and Hélène Grimaud, two great musical friends, come together to bring us an enduring monument of classical music: Brahms's immortal Second Piano Concerto. Experience for yourself what the Los Angeles Times calls Grimaud's "elegant, cinematic presence...She plays with tonal clarity and rhythmic elan." In the second half of the concert, we hear Brahms's friend Schumann.
Bach's Third Orchestral Suite contains one of the most often-played pieces of music (the second movement "Air on the G String") but the rest of the Suite is beautiful, quintessential J.S. Bach as well. Early music specialist Ton Koopman conducts and solos at the keyboard, joined by his wife, Tini Mathot, in C.P.E. Bach's Concerto for Two Harpsichords in F major. The spotlight shines on Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner, playing Mozart's cheerful and majestic Flute Concerto No. 1.
An ocean voyage, a thundering storm, two young lovers, all presided over by a powerful wizard! As he did so memorably with Romeo and Juliet, Tchaikovsky once again turns to Shakespeare for inspiration, delivering a brilliant evocation of the magical doings in The Tempest. We fast-forward into the 20th century with Tchaikovsky's fellow Russian, Prokofiev, and his spirited Second Violin Concerto, echoing with everything from Russian folk tunes to Spanish castanets, performed by the sensational Akiko Suwanai.
Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève leads his second subscription series of the season with a terrific program of life-affirming music and a continuation of a tribute to John Williams. Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Princess turns to a stately dance form (the "pavane,"popular during the Renaissance) as the basis for this shimmering Impressionist work evoking longing and nostalgia, filled with gorgeous melodies.
These concerts featured will have very limited availability.
Yannick delves into a yearlong exploration of the inimitable Philadelphia Sound and works it has premiered. What better way to set the tone than with Rachmaninoff, whose special connection to the Philadelphians was unique in the world. His divine Fourth Piano Concerto premiered in Philadelphia in 1927 with the composer at the keyboard and Leopold Stokowski conducting. Ormandy then premiered a revised version in 1941, again with Rachmaninoff as soloist.
Here's a fascinating rhythm: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in the groundbreaking original version commissioned by the legendary bandleader Paul Whiteman. (Stokowski was in the audience when it premiered in 1924.) Gershwin specialist Jon Kimura Parker brings his "crisply focused pianism" (The New York Times) to a program led by Marin Alsop, who has recorded the work in this intimate jazz band form. You'll hear Debussy's dreamy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun in a different way, too, in a rarely heard and imaginative chamber orchestration by Schoenberg.
We journey through France this weekend, beginning with the fiery Suite No. 1 from Carmen. Yannick made his galvanizing Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 conducting "a bracing, fleet and fresh account" (The New York Times) of Bizet's most famous opera. Sure, the setting is in Seville, but composer, libretto, and racy themes are all French, through and through.
12/13 will not be offered through the eZseatU program
Kicking off the holiday season in grand style, Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a reverential, theatrically-informed production of Handel's Messiah. Scottish stage director James Alexander, whose brilliant production of Bach's St. Matthew Passion was a sold-out success, returns with another inspired artistic collaboration. "My job is to enhance the presentation, not to overwhelm it or upstage it," says Alexander, who describes Yannick as a "fiercely intelligent" collaborator with a clear vision for the Orchestra.
Yannick sets the tone for his three-week Vienna Festival with native-born Johann Strauss Jr.'s famous "Tales from the Vienna Woods." There's no more idyllic picture of the city than this, an elegant Viennese waltz.
He is one of the most celebrated conductors of his generation. We welcome James Levine back to our podium with a sonically brilliant program that underscores the breadth and depth of his conducting mastery. Saint-Saëns's powerful "Organ" Symphony, which helped inaugurate Verizon Hall's majestic Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ in 2006, is a thrilling feast of sound. It provides the grand conclusion of a program that also features wide-ranging music of Brahms and Ives.
We take you to the jazz-infused 1930s for this sparkling trio of pieces. George Gershwin's evocative and vivid An American in Paris is arguably the finest musical love letter ever penned to a city. Meanwhile, Yannick is also a big fan of Weill's Symphony No. 2, and it's no wonder, he has even recorded it. It has the edgy energy of the 1930s and the craftsmanship of a well-refined symphony. Maurice Ravel wrote his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand for an Austrian pianist wounded in World War I.
Our conductor-in-residence, Cristian Macelaru, leads Stravinsky as you've never heard (and seen) him before! The Soldier's Tale will be staged by James Alexander (known for his striking theatrical collaborations with the Orchestra). You may have heard the brief Soldier's Tale Suite, but here we present the complete version featuring actors, dancers, a narrator, and a septet of Orchestra musicians in a stunning rendition of a Russian folktale: The devil cons a soldier into trading his treasured fiddle for a promise of riches.
A Philadelphia favorite himself, the incomparable Lang Lang plays another Philadelphia favorite, Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose career was so entwined with the Orchestra. Lang Lang's blend of youthful dynamism and extraordinary musicianship is perfect for the Piano Concerto No. 1, guaranteed to spark fireworks onstage. We end with Mahler's last symphony, No. 10, left unfinished at his death in 1911. Over the years many noted musicians and experts have worked on completing it. Great Britain's Deryck Cooke created the version first premiered and recorded in the U.S.
These concerts featured will have extremely limited availability.
3/13 is SOLD OUT and will not be offered through the eZseatU program
The nickname "Symphony of a Thousand" may be an exaggeration; there will be "only" four hundred or so singers and musicians in these performances. But Mahler's masterful Symphony No. 8 is otherwise immune to hyperbole. It's an enormous, ambitious, soul-stirring work that simply must be experienced live.
The phenomenal cello master Yo-Yo Ma kicks off a two-week celebration of John Williams's music for concert hall and film. Williams wrote the Cello Concerto specifically for Ma, at the suggestion of Seiji Ozawa. That legendary conductor is celebrated in our opening piece, Williams's Tributes! For Seiji, written in honor of Ozawa's 25th anniversary with the Boston Symphony. Next, two excerpts from one of Debussy's most popular works, "Clouds and Festivals" from Nocturnes, inspired by Whistler's series of Impressionist paintings by the same name.