Maestro Middleman conducting the Philadelphia Classical Symphony.

Maestro Middleman conducting the Philadelphia Classical Symphony.

ORCHESTRAS

Karl Middleman has led:

Philadelphia Classical Symphony
Munich Philharmonic Ensemble
Lansdowne Symphony
West Chester University Opera
Temple University Orchestra
Bucks County Symphony
Garden State Philharmonic
Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia
Orchestra Society of Philadelphia

Music is a perhaps the most abstract art. For those struggling to grasp its appeal, a thematic program organized around a particular theme can sometimes offer new and enticing portals for engagement. The Philadelphia Classical Symphony has made many such presentations designed to engross audiences in new ways. Our professional chamber orchestra comprises 16 – 36 members. The story of music is more than notes on a page; it’s a mirror of history itself – a saga of passion, inspiration, intellect, religion, philosophy and patronage. Our audiences regularly participate in innovative cross-disciplinary programs that contextualize the music, dance, fine art and theater of many cultures spanning the past five centuries. Below are a few examples of the enhanced concerts we offer that provide context and build community.

Karl Middleman conducts the Philadelphia Classical Symphony in George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, featuring accordion soloist Lydia Kaminska.

Karl Middleman conducts the Philadelphia Classical Symphony in George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, featuring accordion soloist Lydia Kaminska.

THEMATIC CONCERTS

MOZART AND THE DANCE

The audience ate, drank and danced Mozart in simulation of a Viennese court ball. A pre-concert dinner of Wienerschnitzel, Café Vienna and Linzer tortes was followed by a participatory Learn-the-Minuet workshop taught by a dance troupe informed in 18th-Century practices.

AMERICANS IN PARIS … AND ALL THAT JAZZ

We cakewalked into an era – the Roaring 20’s – that was marked by sophistication, style and conspicuous overstepping of social boundaries. Composers as diverse as Stravinsky, Gershwin and Milhaud were all smitten by jazz. The program featured a cabaret band scoring of Rhapsody in Blue performed in one of the myriad ways Gershwin might have heard it himself, with solo accordion! Following the concert the audience attended a Parisian-style cabaret with French cuisine and nightclub songs.

HEXAMERON AND THE CLASH OF THE PIANO TITANS

Liszt was only one of numerous powerhouse piano virtuosos active in Paris during the 1830’s. One work alone collected all the competing piano wizards’ talents – including Chopin’s – the notoriously difficult Hexaméron. It was Liszt’s most popular piece for a decade, and for nearly 200 years Hexaméron was never heard in live orchestral performance. Here, freshly orchestrated, for world premiere during Liszt’s 200th anniversary year, was a completion of Liszt’s dream. The audience was invited to singalong in the March from Bellini’s I Puritani, the opera hit that inspired Liszt.

BALI AND THE BEGUILEMENT OF TRHE GAMELAN

A friendly battle of the bands ensued when the PCS locked in musical clash and contrast with Gamelan Galak Tika and its internationally renowned director, Evan Ziporyn. This program took as its point of departure the Paris World’s Fair of 1889. Beginning with Debussy and continuing with four generations of western composers, the selections traced the West’s fascination with eastern culture. The capstone work was a major fusion composition for both ensembles.

GENERALS ELECTRIC

18th and early 19th Century violin styles were often inspired by the exploits of military heroes. Napoleon and Alexander the Great were frequently cited by astonished listeners. The orchestra at Mannheim was reputedly so precise that its musicians were compared to “generals”. This concert featured works that showed the influence of military figures and soldierly styles.

AMERICAN MOSAICS – RE-AWAKENINGS OF AMERICAN INDIAN MUSIC

A unique commissioning and music education project dedicated to exploring fusions with American Indian culture, American Mosaics spotlighted the culture of an underserved, culturally marginalized population – Lenape Indians – and promoted greater appreciation of Lenape heritage. Newly commissioned orchestral works by distinguished American composers encouraged many new and younger audiences to find portals for music appreciation.

FAMILY CONCERTS

MUSICAL KINGS AND QUEENS

Come to Mozart’s table of auditory delights. Enhance your appreciation of Salzburg’s favorite son. Embedded in Mozart’s music are the anticProgram selections all bespoke of royalty. Pre-concert workshops utilized school art departments offering Make-A-Crown and Make-A-Royal-Scepter teacher-led workshops. Students proudly brandished their accoutrements during Verdi’s Triumphal March to Aida. An added bonus: the Philadelphia Rug Company loaned a red carpet for the royal promenade.

LATIN FIESTA

No siestas this afternoon! Hot, spicy and sizzling described the Latin music menu for this program featuring the singing and dancing of the outstanding eight-member guest ensemble, Latin Fiesta. Audience-engaging pre-concert activities included demonstrations of Latin instruments, Make-And-Break-A-Piñata workshop, and Make-a-Maracas workshop.

BACH TO BEBOP, 2000

A jubilant salute to the musical achievements of Philadelphia’s African American Community featured some of Philadelphia’s finest musicians joined by the Jazz Band of the High School of Creative and Performing Arts and Drummer/Dancer Sistah Mafalda Thomas-Bouzy with the “Kuumba Performers.” Performed music by African American composers including Adolphus Hailstork, Chevalier St. Georges, and Duke Ellington. Pre-concert activities included workshops in drum making, drumming, dancing, singing, and the pre-concert jazz band in Salute to the Duke.

2001 – A MUSICAL SPACE ODYSSEY

Music from Outer Space, featuring Thus Spake Zarathustra, and more other-worldly music preceded by preconcert activities fair included “outer space” poster-making and solar clay creatures, Moon Walk dance workshops focusing on movement through music, and a Lunar Tunes workshop.