The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, February 15, 2004  

In and Around Philadelphia
Plus Some Stuff About Bush

Orchestras, along with opera, theater, and ballet companies, around the country are struggling. Really and truly struggling. All too many have pared back their performance schedules, reduced staff, and, in some cases, stopped performing completely, halls and theaters gone dark amid shamefully pervasive filings of bankruptcy.

It seems the Bush administration’s obscene largesse toward the richest of the very rich hasn’t produced any benefits for arts institutions, and here I would include, in addition to orchestras and opera, theater, and ballet companies, museums, historic sites and homes, schools, colleges, and universities, and charities of almost every and any kind. Instead, it’s apparently all gone into the pockets of the greediest of the very greedy.

Listen, the repeal of the estate tax was an incredibly rapacious assault on the tax code and, worse, a shameful war on democracy as we know it; legislation that proved once and for all that despite conservative pretentions of following strict constitutionalism and unerring adherence to the words of the founding fathers, they haven’t read, let alone understood, a word of what those great men wrote.

The estate tax repeal is nothing more, and far less, than a new element of the Bush administration and Republican Party’s ongoing and relentless class warfare. Bizarrely, it is one of their proudest moments, “friends of working families” that they pretend to be.

In addition to saddling the middle and working classes with incredibly unfair tax burdens going forward, this stupidity, this lunacy, is killing and will continue to kill arts and culture in this country for years, and if the Bush gang and its allies have their way, for generations.

This is not a done deal. You can help repeal the disgraceful repeal of the estate tax by visiting the web site of United for a Fair Economy and its affiliate, Responsible Wealth, and take action as these groups advise on this critical issue.

UFE? “Reponsible Wealth”? Who are they? Some crazy left-wing groups? Hardly. Among the groups’ backers are such radicals as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates Sr., George Soros, and Ted Turner.

More narrowly, and more locally, and in the past I have urged readers to be aggressive in supporting local cultural and artistic organizations, I’d like to take a minute to direct the attention of Philadelphia-area readers to some of the lesser known of the multitude of symphonic organizations and associations in the region.

State and local funding: down, cut. Foundation grants: down, cut. With that in mind, I can’t help but think that most, if not each and every one of these orchestras, could use your help. You don’t have to write a check, an unrestricted donation, to support them. Instead, buy a ticket to and attend a concert of one or more of these groups. They’ll get something from the transaction, and so will you. And you more than they, I expect.

Allentown Symphony Orchestra: March 7, 2:00 p.m., Symphony Hall, 23 N. 6th St.: “Three Winning Cellists.” And March 13, 8:00 p.m.: Angie Cheng, violin, performing Debussy, “Prelude a L’apres-midi d’un faune,” Wieniawski, “Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor,” and Tchaikovsky, “Symphony No. 5 in E minor.”

Bucks County Symphony Orchestra: February 15, 3:00 p.m., Central Bucks East High School: Bartok, “Hungarian Pictures,” Mozart, “Horn Concerto No. 4,” and Beethoven, “Symphony No. 3 (Eroica). Also, March 26, 8:00 p.m., Lenpae Middle School: Sibelius, “Finlandia,” Rachmaninoff, “Piano Concerto No. 2,” and Rimsky-Korsakov, “Scheherazade.”

Chestnut Hill Community Orchestra: February 15, Church of St. Luke the Evangelist, Glenside, Pa., and February 22, Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Philadelphia (Northeast): Schubert, “Symphony No. 9 in C” and Beethoven, “Violin Concerto in D.” [Ed.: Even if you’re not “into” classical music, this is a program you will enjoy.]

Delaware County Symphony Orchestra: February 29, 3:00 p.m., Meagher Theater, Neumann College, Aston, Pa.: Rossini, “Thieving Magpie Overture,” Brahms/Brio, “Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet and Orchestra,” and Respighi, “Church Windows.”

Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra: March 13, Christian Life Center, Bensalem, Pa.: Stravinsky, “Fire Bird,” Wright/Forrest, “Kismet: Baubles, Bangles, and Beads; and This is my Beloved,” Balakirev, “Overture on Three Russian Folksongs,” and Rimsky-Korsakov, “Scheherazade”.

Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra: March 21, 3:00 p.m., Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, Upper Darby, Pa.: Beethoven, “Consecration of the House Overture,” Haydn, “Sinfonia Concertante in B flat,” and Schumann, “Symphony No. 4 in D minor.”

Lower Merion Symphony: February 28, 3:00 p.m., Rosemont College, Rosemont, Pa.: Selections from “Semiramide,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “Don Pasquale,” “Dance of the Hours,” “Ballo in Maschera,” “La Traviata,” and “Fra Diavolo.”

North Penn Symphony Orchestra: April 3, Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale, Pa.: “Annual Evening at the Opera,” including favorite excerpts and highlights from Don Giovanni, The Pearlfishers, Lohengrin, Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro, Tosca, Il Trovatore, Cavalleria, Rusticana, Candide, La Traviata, Rigoletto, La Bohème, and The Barber of Seville.

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