About the Program
eZseatU memberships for the 2019-20 season are on sale now! Buy one TODAY.
Here is how the program works:
Buy membership: Purchase your $25 eZseatU membership online and create your personal online account.
Reserve your FREE tickets: Each Tuesday morning, you will receive an e-mail outlining the concerts offered that week, reservation procedures, and other important information. Every week, tickets will be made available on Tuesday at 4 PM. The link to purchase tickets will be included in the e-mail, or found under the eZseatU 2019-20 tab when you log in to "My Account." Each eZseatU member is entitled to one ticket per concert. Tickets will generally sell out quickly after the release. It is encouraged that you attempt to reserve your ticket as soon as possible.
Bring friends: eZseatU members may purchase $8 student add-on tickets for most performances. Each student guest with an $8 add-on ticket must also have a valid full-time college student ID. The number of add-on tickets made available is subject to change each week.
Concert night: Print out your tickets and bring them to the concert with your valid full-time college student ID (guest student add-on ticket holders must have valid full-time college student ID as well). Anyone who fails to present a college student ID will not be admitted. Your tickets will be scanned at the eZseatU table in the Kimmel Center lobby, and you will be seated by an usher 10 minutes before the performance starts. No late seating will be available for any concerts. You cannot be checked-in after the usher has seated the students.
Additional generous support is provided by the Amy P. Goldman Foundation.
Have more questions? Read our FAQs to find out more.
- You must have a valid current full-time college student ID for the current academic year to participate.
- Reservations and seating are subject to availability.
- All artists, dates, prices, and programs subject to change.
- eZseatU memberships are valid for all regular subscription Philadelphia Orchestra concerts September through June at the Kimmel Center. Memberships expire at the end of the 2019-20 season.
- All add-on tickets must be used by full-time students with valid student IDs.
- Always bring your printed ticket and valid student ID to concerts. Anyone who fails to present a valid student ID will not be admitted.
- Tickets issued are general admission. Seating location in the concert hall is dependent on availability. If someone has a purchased ticket for the seat you have been placed in at a particular concert, please allow them to take their seat and find an usher who will reseat you.
- If eZseatU reservations have been sold out for a particular concert, there are still other options for students!
- Some concerts may not have tickets available through the eZseatU program should they sell out in advance of a weekly e-mail alert for ticket reservations. Keep checking this page throughout the season for the most up to date concert availability information.
Umoja, a world premiere commission by American composer Valerie Coleman, launches our 2019-20 season. Ms. Coleman's spirited music draws from Afro-Cuban, jazz, and classical genres. Umoja—meaning unity in Swahili—is alive with all these influences. Bartók's gorgeous Third Concerto, performed by Yannick's good friend Hélène Grimaud, is as vibrant today as the day The Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy gave the world premiere at the Academy of Music in 1946.
Composer, conductor, teacher, writer, thinker—John Adams is an American musical icon. His work—exciting and beautiful—unflinchingly confronts, defines, and embraces contemporary culture. He wrote Scheherazade.2 for the stellar violinist Leila Josefowicz, inspired by an art exhibit about The Tales of the Arabian Nights and Rimsky-Korsakov's original. Josefowicz's solo violin plays the role of a modern Scheherazade. Adams's musical exploration of the present-day struggle of women in a patriarchal society reverses the roles, putting the woman in a position of strength.
Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 marked the composer's triumphant recovery from the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony. While some elements are familiar thanks to movie soundtracks and pop songs, the Concerto as a whole is a testament to Rachmaninoff's brilliance as a composer and pianist. Haochen Zhang is a worthy interpreter of this masterwork: Not yet 30, he's renowned for dazzling technique and thoughtful interpretation. Strauss's Alpine Symphony was inspired by a trek up a mountain, from pre-dawn darkness to deepening nightfall.
Yannick leads an all-Mozart program displaying the seemingly infinite range of his musical gifts. The “Haffner” Symphony, named for the commissioning Salzburg family, began as a serenade, but Mozart tweaked and enhanced it into its present form, now recognized as a true breakthrough in his musical style. The Symphony No. 40, perhaps his most famous symphony, is also hailed as a turning point in composition.
Mahler summons a large orchestra to explore the full range of human emotions in his Fifth Symphony, a work that Yannick returns to with the Philadelphians for the first time in 9 years. Schubert himself struggled to play the Wanderer Fantasy. More than just a technical challenge, the piece is an ingenious set of variations on the composer's song “Der Wanderer,” transformed by Liszt into a rarely heard piano concerto. The four movements are played without a break, building intensity until the mesmerizing finale.
Max Bruch may have struggled to write it, but Concertmaster David Kim calls this violin concerto “the perfect combination of beautiful melodies and themes, virtuosic yet accessible.” Brahms's Second Symphony, possibly his most popular, is said to be his personal favorite as well. Its pastoral aura surely accounts for some of its appeal; but Brahms being Brahms, there is tension and drama as well, building to an extraordinary, triumphant finale. Conductor Nathalie Stutzmann returns to demonstrate her superb chemistry with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
With these concerts our esteemed colleague Stéphane Denève begins his sixth and final season as our principal guest conductor. Soviet-born American composer Lera Auerbach says she was drawn to the myth of Icarus because of “his wish to reach the unreachable, the intensity of the ecstatic brevity of his flight, and the inevitability of his fall.” Her adventurous musical palette exploits the full sonic range of the orchestra: shimmering, soaring, and ultimately dying away. Stravinsky describes a different myth about feathered flight in his Firebird.
Beethoven's only violin concerto is “an amazing trip,” says Gil Shaham, from the opening drumbeats, through some of “the most sublime, most beautiful violin passages ever,” to the “perfect fiddling” of the final dance. Susanna Mälkki, renowned interpreter of new music, leads Betsy Jolas's A Little Summer Suite, written in 2015 on the eve of the composer's 90th birthday.
This work of towering musicality and deep spirituality is a fitting summation of J.S. Bach's epochal career; he finished it the year before he died. It's “above and beyond every piece of music that's been created for liturgical purposes,” says Yannick Nézet-Séguin. A setting of the complete Latin Mass, it demands superlatives, at the same time rendering them inadequate.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Wynton Marsalis switches from jazz band to symphony orchestra for his Blues Symphony. “Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance,” says Marsalis, and he uses the classic 12-bar musical form as the basis for this work, which celebrates all types of American and African-American music, from spirituals to ragtime, from marches to bluegrass. This Philadelphia premiere is conducted by our long-time friend Cristian Macelaru. Shostakovich's emotional First Violin Concerto reveals the pure power and technical prowess of orchestra and soloist.
Daniil Trifonov, the Orchestra's Grammy-winning recording partner, returns for four performances. Amplifying the programs are two underappreciated works by formidable women composers: Lili Boulanger, the first woman to win, in 1913, the prestigious Prix de Rome composition prize, and Louise Farrenc, whose Symphony No. 2 dialogues with Beethoven, and leaves us asking why her works are not a more integral part of the canon today.
Beethoven composed “the most positive music ever written,” with every work containing “every emotion known to man,” says Emanuel Ax, who completes our piano concerto cycle. Beethoven made his public debut with his Second Concerto, a dramatic, humorous, ebullient work that announced the young artist's arrival.
The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates Valentine's weekend with spellbinding music, beginning with Mozart's bewitching The Magic Flute. Magic takes a darker turn in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Dukas's symphonic poem immortalized by Mickey Mouse battling demonic brooms in Fantasia. Stéphane Denève is a passionate exponent of John Williams's endlessly creative music for the cinema, represented here by his spookily charming Harry Potter scores.
Mendelssohn wrote his Second Piano Concerto right after he got married and there's plenty of joy expressed, especially in the final movement, which the composer himself described as “piano fireworks.” He was the soloist at the premiere in 1837. The young French pianist Lise de la Salle (“For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe…” –The Washington Post) is a riveting choice to interpret this concerto. Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique is a tour de force of compositional color, a breakthrough that set the stage for his most assured writing.
What exactly is Elgar's "enigma?" We may never know but we can still enjoy these 14 charming variations on a theme that Elgar composed "to my friends pictured within." British conductor Edward Gardner, chief conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic and principal conductor designate of the London Philharmonic, makes his Philadelphia Orchestra debut, and keyboard virtuoso Paul Jacobs returns to the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ.
This American classic is the story of a man trying to rescue a woman from her distressing life. To help create his masterpiece, George Gershwin immersed himself in African-American life and culture on Charleston's Catfish Row, honoring the area's folk traditions with timeless melodies. Pioneering conductor Marin Alsop leads our performances of this tale of oppression, struggle, hope, and love. The cast includes soprano Angel Blue and celebrated baritone Lester Lynch.
The indelible four-note opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony lays the foundation for a truly fateful symphonic journey. Written in 1804, and on the program when The Philadelphia Orchestra gave its first concert in 1900, it's an epic tour de force that resonates in 2020. Following its rousing conclusion come the verdant valleys and sweet smells of the woods and the Austrian countryside, an exposition of Beethoven's love of nature.
Beethoven was just beginning to go deaf when he wrote his Second Symphony and though he was losing his hearing, he was finding his voice. He could have composed a manifestation of despair, but instead gave the world one of his most ebullient and life-affirming works. The Third Symphony was groundbreaking, a turning point in the composer's oeuvre and a watershed in musical history.
Buoyant and humorous, the Eighth Symphony belies none of the composer's worsening health issues or what had to be the devastating end of a love affair, detailed in a famous letter written around the same time to his “Immortal Beloved.” Perhaps the least known, the Fourth was widely admired: Schumann compared it to “a slender Greek maiden” between the two “Norse giants” of the Third and Fifth; Berlioz insisted it was the work of an angel.
Beethoven was just 25 when he wrote his First Symphony. Delightful and high-spirited, floating on strains of Mozart and Haydn, it's a fascinating glimpse of the greatness and genius to come—all on full, glorious display in the climactic Ninth. Written just a few short years before his death, Beethoven's profound ode to brotherhood, salvation, and pure joy reminds us why we are here as an orchestra, says Yannick, and why we constantly try to make our world better by playing music.
Stéphane Denève's final subscription concerts as the Orchestra's principal guest conductor culminate with Strauss's epic Ein Heldenleben—literally, A Hero's Life—an extravagant, all-encompassing, semi-autobiographical tone poem that quotes from his own prodigious masterpieces. Anna Clyne's imaginative This Midnight Hour, highlighting the power of the lower strings, evokes the journey of a mysterious woman “stripped bare, running mad through the night.” Liszt's heady Second Piano Concerto is gorgeous and technically challenging.
Italian conductor Fabio Luisi returns to conduct a program that opens with Bent Sørensen’s Evening Land. The piece was inspired by an image of the evening light that Sørensen recalled from his childhood in Denmark. Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner is especially pleased to be performing the Nielsen Concerto. “I love the back and forth in the orchestration; it's a lot of fun to play and listen to!” Famous for its ingenious use of a “fate” theme, Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony progresses from a somber beginning to an uplifting, triumphant march in the final movement. It's Tchaikovsky at his soulful best!
Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto may be overshadowed by his more famous First, but it's the piece that earned Lukas Geniušas top honors at the Tchaikovsky Competition. Balanchine, too, recognized its consummate beauty, choosing it as the score for his tribute to classical Russian ballet. The government decided what was art when Shostakovich wrote his vehement and complicated Fifth Symphony under an oppressive Soviet regime (and threat of the Gulag).
George Gershwin's Jazz Age tone poem An American in Paris both inspired the now-classic Hollywood movie and provides the score for its groundbreaking finale: a dreamy—and, at 17 minutes, unheard of—ballet sequence starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. The 1951 film, directed by Vincente Minnelli, swept the Academy Awards, winning six Oscars, including Best Picture.
The reviews were rapturous for Yannick's “blazing and urgent, yet richly nuanced account of Strauss's still-shocking score” (The New York Times) when he led Elektra at the Metropolitan Opera in 2018. He reprises the triumph with these symphonically staged performances starring The Philadelphia Orchestra and a cast of vocal powerhouses. Christine Goerke sings the title role, a tormented daughter obsessed with avenging the death of her father, Agamemnon. Mikhail Petrenko portrays the brother she hopes will kill the murderous culprits: their mother and her lover.
Yannick reprises a highlight of our season's Beethoven celebration for a special, one-night-only performance of two masterpieces. The indelible four-note opening of the Fifth Symphony lays the foundation for a truly fateful symphonic journey. Written in 1804, and on the program when The Philadelphia Orchestra gave its first concert in 1900, it's an epic tour de force that resonates in 2020. Following its rousing conclusion come the verdant valleys and sweet smells of the woods and the Austrian countryside, an exposition of Beethoven's love of nature.
Brahms wrote just two piano concertos. He was 25 when he completed his youthful and vigorous First Concerto. Two decades later he composed his tremendous Second; Yannick compares the final, fourth movement to playing in heaven, surrounded by angels. The fiery Yuja Wang, Curtis Institute of Music graduate and Philadelphia favorite, returns to her second home for four performances, bringing her technical virtuosity and thoughtful depth of music-making to these two corresponding and harmonious works. Hear them both, paired with Sibelius's Symphony No. 3, a masterpiece of the Finnish national hero.
Bruckner is “one of the great symphonists of all time,” says Yannick. His music is “spiritual, romantic, dreamy, imposing, cataclysmic … music that excites all the emotions and magnifies the results of the symphony.” A Bruckner champion and world-renowned interpreter, Yannick's deep affinity for the composer shines in passionate performances of the thrilling Third Symphony, “an unquestioned masterpiece, a citadel that no critic can pull down.