Unforgettable Musical Experiences with PhilHarmonia
In its fourth season, the PhilHarmonia Chamber Choir is a relatively new ensemble to the Philadelphia music scene. Nevertheless, in that limited time, they have made quite a splash. Based on audience attendance at recent concerts, you would have thought that they had had a devoted fan base for years. This is no small feat in an environment where countless events and organizations compete for our attention and money.
According to the choir’s website (https://philharmoniasings.com/), this “25-mixed voice chamber choir exists to sing and perform choral music of the highest caliber and quality. They are individuals acting as a single unit—a community of singers who share great choral music with the public in order to promote a common heightened life experience”. Having sung a few concerts with the choir, I can say first-hand that the performances go beyond the music.
The size of the group allows for performances in unconventional and beautiful venues. This adds to excitement of each concert. For example, the choir’s most recent performance on February 11 was at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Not normally used as a concert venue, it was a privilege to perform in such a gorgeous space.
In addition to the beautiful surroundings, there was a ton of dessert available. Between sets PhilHarmonia performed, hundreds of audience members helped themselves to a bountiful amount of fruit and a large chocolate fountain. At one point singers from the choir performed duets and solos, often accompanied by guitar. Before the last number, there was a champagne toast where at least a dozen people dedicated a Valentine to a loved one.
The food, champagne toast, and beautiful venue were essential in creating a multi-sensory experience for the evening. However, choral music was the central part of the evening. The repertoire spanned from the Renaissance to the present day and historic composers such as Claudio Monteverdi to a chart by the Beatles. One of the highlights of the concert was the Sestina by Venetian composer Monteverdi. For that set in particular, the choir was in tune with each other and the conductor, Mitos Andaya Hart. From her perspective, the choir had tremendous focus and the text was fully expressed. She also remarked that she thought the audience was captive in the moment. It was a shared experience and not one where the choir was simply singing at the audience. From my perspective, there was something particularly unifying about this set. Not only were the acoustics perfect for it, but the architecture and the art of the hall made it seem as if we were in a cathedral in Italy!
This Saturday, May 13 at 3 pm and 5 pm, you have the wonderful opportunity to hear this choir in person in a concert celebrating mothers, spring, and new beginnings. Enjoy music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Clara Schumann, Edward Elgar, John Bennett, Colin Britt, Darmon Meader, Joseph Flummerfelt, and more. As with the previous concert, this one has food included. It is at an unconventional performance setting at The Barn at Bartram’s Garden on 5400 Lindbergh Blvd. in Philadelphia.
Head to https://philharmoniasings.com/ to buy tickets online ($7), or you can purchase them at the door ($10). If you’re at the concert, say hi during one of the post-concert receptions!