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The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin to Perform at the World Meeting of Families–Philadelphia 2015 Festival of Families for His Holiness Pope Francis

June 23, 2015

(Philadelphia, June 23, 2015)—The World Meeting of Families–Philadelphia 2015 today announced that The Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will be joined by the legendary Andrea Bocelli and Latin American superstar Juanes for a performance at the Festival of Families on Saturday, September 26 for Pope Francis. The Orchestra and Nézet-Séguin will also participate in the Papal Mass on Sunday, September 27, performing the liturgical music for the Archdiocesan choir.

This announcement was made during a news conference at the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome, Italy at which Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, and Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director for the World Meeting of Families—Philadelphia 2015 were joined by Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. Bocelli, the internationally acclaimed Italian tenor with more than 70 million records sold; Juanes, multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner; and the Fabulous Philadelphians are the first performers to be officially confirmed for the Festival of Families, which will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Additional high profile acts are expected to be added in the coming months.

“To perform for His Holiness Pope Francis, and to be in service for the events celebrating his generous visit to our city, is a high honor for Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, our musicians, and for everyone associated with The Philadelphia Orchestra,” said Allison Vulgamore. “We’re thrilled to be joined by Philadelphia's Archdiocesan choir for what promises to be a very special Papal Mass for our communities, and broadcast to world audiences. We are deeply grateful to the World Meeting of Families for selecting and welcoming us, and to our many supporters who have made the details of our participation possible. Like so many Philadelphians, the musicians of the Orchestra, Yannick, and our entire organization have contributed our time and talent for these events. We are incredibly proud to share our music with the Holy Father, and know we will be part of an audience in the City of Brotherly Love that will be changed and inspired."

To allow for participation in these historic Papal activities, the musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra voted last fall to extend their current contract. Said John Koen, cellist and chairman of the musicians’ Members’ Committee, “When we heard of the Pope’s visit, we were delighted and immediately wished to do our part to represent the City of Philadelphia. To that end, we mutually agreed to postpone the expiration date of our contract so that nothing will stand in the way of our participation in this transcendent event.”

“When we first began planning the Festival of Families, we wanted to ensure that we brought together performers that represented the world,” said Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director for the World Meeting of Families—Philadelphia 2015. “To have Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s great vocalists, and Juanes, one of the most popular performers in all of Latin America, come to Philadelphia for the Festival of Families is an extraordinary gift. And to be able to have these incredible individuals perform with our hometown jewel in The Philadelphia Orchestra brings this event together in spectacular fashion. Without a doubt, these performances will not only capture the hearts and imaginations of the thousands who will watch them live on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway but also the millions around the world who will watch on television and online. This will be a shared moment and we are deeply grateful to Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, and The Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, for being part of this once-in-a-lifetime moment.”  

The Orchestra’s performances during the World Meeting of Families are made possible in part through support from the Maguire Foundation, the Connelly Foundation, Harry and Kay Halloran, and Andrew Lesko.

For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit WorldMeeting2015.org.

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Prior to the occasion of performing for His Holiness Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Families—Philadelphia 2015, The Philadelphia Orchestra has regularly been called upon to perform on the world’s stage. In 1973, at the request of President Richard Nixon, the Philadelphians became the first American orchestra to perform in China, representing a bridge for cultural, education, and diplomatic exchange between the People’s Republic and the United States; in September 2014, the Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin performed on the Occasion of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York; and throughout moments of great triumph and tragedy, has supported the people of Philadelphia with the gift of music. As an institution that brings communities together through forging partnerships across the Delaware Valley, The Philadelphia Orchestra joined the Dialogue Institute at Temple University to present a series of interfaith dialogues in April 2015, as a means of exploring the nature of Bernstein’s MASS and the questions it raises about religion, faith, and peace. The performances of the massive theater piece, led by Nézet-Séguin, were not only a critical success, but also a profound moment of solidarity.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s highly collaborative style, deeply-rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike since his inaugural season in 2012. He is embraced by the musicians of the Orchestra, audiences, and the community itself. The New York Times has called Nézet-Séguin “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble … has never sounded better.” Under Nézet-Séguin’s leadership the Orchestra returned to recording on the Deutsche Grammophon label. The Orchestra also reaches thousands of listeners on the radio with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

The Philadelphia Orchestra has a decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages across the Delaware Valley. Current initiatives that take musicians off the traditional concert stage and into the community include the highly-successful PopUP Concerts and PlayINs, SingINs, and ConductINs. The Orchestra’s musicians, in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors, serve a key role in growing young musician talent and a love of classical music, nurturing and celebrating the wealth of musicianship in the Philadelphia region.  

The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of imagination and innovation on and off the concert stage. The Orchestra is transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging—and exceeding—that level by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. Based in the historic visit to China, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing that calls for tours and residencies in China’s major cities and outlying provinces, and which has been hailed by the U.S. Department of State for exemplary people-to-people exchange. In 2015 Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestra toured Europe together for the first time. They were joined by the Commonwealth and the Pennsylvania Governor’s office as part of a trade exchange with the major capitals of Europe. Domestically the ensemble annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center while also enjoying summer residencies in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Vail, Colorado.

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit philorch.org.