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The Philadelphia Orchestra Returns to the Academy of Music to Celebrate the Legendary Leopold Stokowski

March 26, 2012

Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Orchestra in four concerts honoring the extraordinary legacy of Stokowski, who ascended the Orchestra’s podium in 1912

Historic programming meets 21st century with Symphony 5.0, which features state-of-the-art live effects and visuals

Yannick and the Orchestra perform the music of the ground-breaking Disney film Fantasia, accompanying excerpts from the iconic movie

In a nod to a Stokowski tradition, audiences will help choose the final concert program

(Philadelphia, March 26, 2012)—Led by Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Philadelphia Orchestra returns to the stage of the Academy of Music—its home for its first 100 years—and pays tribute to Leopold Stokowski. Four performances blend historically informed programs with Stokowski’s spirit of innovation by incorporating the state-of-the-art visuals and live effects of Symphony 5.0. Stokowski’s musical tastes, including a near-recreation of his inaugural concert on October 11, 1912, inspire two concerts while the Orchestra brings to life Disney’s Fantasia, which the Orchestra recorded in 1939. The final concert of the series pays homage to the legendary maestro’s annual tradition of allowing the audience to choose the works performed by the “Fabulous Philadelphians.”  

“It is an honor to celebrate the centenary of Leopold Stokowski’s inaugural season as music director in tandem with my inaugural season as music director,” said Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “As we wrap up the 2011-12 season and prepare for next year, it is with great pleasure that we pay tribute to and carry forward Stokowski’s tradition of innovation—including his bold choice of letting the audience choose the program.”

The Stokowski Celebration concerts not only honor the unparalleled history of the Academy of Music, but also bring a 21st-century experience to the classic works and performances that served as hallmarks of Stokowski’s tenure with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Carrying forward Stokowski’s tradition of exploring new experiences for the concert hall, Philadelphia audiences will be introduced to Symphony 5.0—a ground-breaking and exhilarating theatrical experience that enhances the glorious tradition of symphonic music with cutting edge live effects and high definition visuals. Under the direction of renowned opera and theater director James Alexander, the historic and beautiful interior of the Academy of Music will be visually transformed to complement key moments in each score. The concerts will be enhanced with historical artifacts and visuals, both in the hall and the lobby, which will tell the grand story of Stokowski’s legacy and the Orchestra’s history.

The Stokowski Celebration begins on Thursday, June 21, at 8 PM with Yannick and The Philadelphia Orchestra performing Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade. Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony paints scenic landscapes of the American countryside, inspired by folk tunes and spirituals. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, one of the most vibrant and colorful orchestral works ever written, brings to life the legendary tale of A Thousand and One Nights.

On Friday, June 22, at 2 PM, Yannick and the Orchestra perform Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches, and Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser. These three works formed part of the program for Stokowski’s first concert in Philadelphia.

Disney’s Fantasia Family Concert—Philadelphia Orchestra Legacy

In tribute to Stokowski, who first introduced a children’s concert in 1921, the weekend also includes a special Family Concert on Saturday, June 23, at 11:30 AM. During the concert, Yannick, leading his first Family Concert, conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra in music from the classic Disney film Fantasia, one of the Orchestra’s greatest legacies. Families will delight in hearing the Orchestra perform the musical excerpts as the corresponding images from the original 1940 film’s most memorable moments are projected onto overhead screens. The program for this Family Concert includes Stokowski’s orchestration of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Nutcracker, Excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”), Stokowski’s orchestration of Debussy’s “Clair de lune,” and Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The presentation of Fantasia is licensed by Disney Music Publishing, © Disney.

Widely considered Stokowski’s greatest international achievement while in Philadelphia, the recording of Fantasia began as a meeting of the minds between Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski. They met in Hollywood and it was in discussions between them that the project took shape. Over five days in April 1939, Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra recorded seven of the eight segments of the score in the Academy of Music. In order to capture the true essence and sound of the Orchestra, 33 microphones were used in the recording.

Audience Choice

The final concert on June 23at 8 PM pays homage to the legendary maestro’s annual tradition of allowing the audience to choose the works performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra. Between March 26 and April 18, 2012, the Orchestra will accept suggestions for any work that audiences would like to hear during this special concert. On April 23 the top submissions from the open ballot will be announced and the public will have the opportunity to vote for the final concert pieces, as well as personal selections chosen by Yannick, through May 19. In the spirit of Stokowski’s tradition, the final program will be chosen at the discretion of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Submissions will be collected and tabulated by The Philadelphia Orchestra. Audiences will be able to vote in four easy ways: through an online submission form on the Orchestra’s website at www.philorch.org/vote, by filling out paper submission forms at Verizon Hall, with mail-in entries, or by calling a special Audience Choice hotline at 215.893.1974.  

Stokowski Centenary

Philadelphia Orchestra legend Leopold Stokowski took the reins as leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra on October 11, 1912, thus beginning a legacy that extended throughout his 29-year tenure and still resonates within the Orchestra today. One hundred years later Yannick Nézet-Séguin steps into the rich tradition and heritage that Stokowski endowed upon the Orchestra, and celebrates this history while leading the Orchestra into its future. Said Yannick Nézet-Séguin: “I am privileged to step into this wonderful heritage that Stokowski has given all of us. He shaped The Philadelphia Orchestra into a very forward-thinking orchestra, and it is that spirit that we hope to capture in 2012-13 and beyond. Even as we look to the future, we are also honoring our tradition.”

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2012-13 season honors Leopold Stokowski, the man who began the modern era for the Orchestra, and pays tribute to this vibrant artistic ancestry through programming that celebrates his spirit, performing works he first introduced to Philadelphia, welcoming collaborations with artistic partners, drawing inspiration from his programming, and creating unique concert experiences. That season’s programs include several pieces that Stokowski premiered in Philadelphia, as well as some of his famous arrangements of works by Bach. Several guest conductors, including Simon Rattle, Emmanuel Krivine, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and Donald Runnicles, selected their repertoire based on inspiration from historic Stokowski programs.

Leopold Stokowski

Leopold Stokowski was conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912 to 1941 (sharing the post with Eugene Ormandy for the last five years). Early in his tenure Stokowski quickly began leading the Orchestra toward new visions of musical excellence and excitement. Conducting a series of major world and U.S. premieres, including works by Berg, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Sibelius, and Stravinsky, Stokowski firmly established Philadelphia’s prominence in American classical music. In addition to making widely-acclaimed recordings with the ensemble, he instituted many other Philadelphia Orchestra traditions, including concerts created especially for children and symphonic tours throughout the country.


Stokowski Celebration in the Academy of Music

June 21 at 8:00 PM – Thursday evening – Academy of Music

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Dvořák                                      Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)

Rimsky-Korsakov                        Sheherazade

Tickets: $10-$95, 215.893.1999 or www.philorch.org.


June 22 at 2:00 PM – Friday afternoon – Academy of Music

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Brahms                                     Symphony No. 1

Ippolitov-Ivanov                          Caucasian Sketches

Wagner                                     Overture to Tannhäuser

Tickets: $10-$95, 215.893.1999 or www.philorch.org.


June 23 at 11:30 AM – Saturday morning – Academy of Music

Family Concert

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Featuring repertoire from Fantasia

Bach/orch. Stokowski                 Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Tchaikovsky                               Suite from The Nutcracker

Beethoven                                 Excerpts from Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”)

Debussy/orch. Stokowski             “Clair de lune,” from Suite bergamasque

Dukas                                       The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Presentation licensed by Disney Music Publishing © Disney

Tickets: $10-$40, 215.893.1999 or www.philorch.org.


June 23 at 8:00 PM – Saturday evening – Academy of Music

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Audience Choice Program

In the spirit of Stokowski’s tradition, the final program will be chosen at the discretion of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Submissions will be collected and tabulated by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Presentation licensed by Disney Music Publishing © Disney

Tickets: $10-$95, 215.893.1999 or www.philorch.org.

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