This past Sunday afternoon I went to a performance of Program II of the The Pennsylvania Ballet at The Academy of Music.

I’ve written music for dancers but I’m no expert on dance. The Inquirer’s review of this performance has more insightful things to say about the dancers. Here I’ll just add a few words from a musician’s viewpoint.

In particular I wanted to see Hindemith’s The Four Temperaments onstage. I’ve had a long history with Hindemith starting with Elementary Training for Musicians (“Elementary” is not the appropriate word for this book) as a High School freshman.

The stage was sparse and the lighting was varying shades of gray and the dancers wore gray monotards. This was fitting for George Balanchine’s simple, angular choreography.

Matthew Neenan’s staging and choreography for Orff’s Carmina Burana was the opposite of that for the Hindemith. It was frenetic; full of energy and action. The stage was drenched in color. The dancers had dozens of costume changes. The Hindemith employed a small chamber orchestra with piano soloist. For Orff the full Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra was joined by The Philadelphia Singers Chorale. The chorale was located in the boxes on the sides and the soloists were onstage.

It was a wonderfully contrasting pairing of two 20th century composers and choreographers.

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