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The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin Launch the 2017-18 Season with Opening Night Concert and Gala, October 5

August 22, 2017

Special Program Kicks Off Season-Long Celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s Centenary

Plus a Special Appearance by Emanuel Ax with Prodigy Harmony Zhu


Philadelphia Orchestra Award Presented to Robert and Joan Rechnitz


Opening Night Festivities Presented by

The Volunteer Committees of The Philadelphia Orchestra


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Save the date10/5 marks the start of @philorch’s 118th season ft. @nezetseguin @EmanuelAx + an “Old Hollywood” gala. More at philorch.org.


(Philadelphia, August 22, 2017)—The Philadelphia Orchestra begins the 2017-18 season, the sixth under Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, with the musical and social event that kick starts the Philadelphia cultural season, the Opening Night Concert and Gala, on Thursday, October 5, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The 118th season launches with a special program including two works by Leonard Bernstein, marking the start of the Orchestra’s centennial celebration of the pre-eminent conductor, composer, and pianist and illustrious Curtis Institute of Music alumnus. Emanuel Ax, special guest and beloved friend of the Orchestra, will make a special appearance, joining Philadelphia Orchestra Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition winner Harmony Zhu at the keyboard for a unique four-hands performance. Ms. Zhu will also be featured performing the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. This year marks the 31st season for which The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Volunteer Committees have presented Opening Night festivities.

“This year’s Opening Night will be the perfect prelude for a season to remember, from celebrating the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth and his role as a great interpreter of America's voice, to the singular experience of seeing the incomparable Emanuel Ax perform alongside a young, rising talent such as Harmony Zhu,” said Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “The Opening Gala events are the results of the tireless and passionate efforts of the Volunteer Committees of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and we are so grateful for all they have done and continue to do to celebrate the great accomplishments of this Orchestra and those still to come.”

The Opening Night Concert and Gala begins with the Sponsors’ Red Carpet Reception at 5:30 PM for Benefactors on the Kimmel Center’s Tier Two Lounge. The concert begins at 7 PM in Verizon Hall and will be performed without intermission. Immediately following the concert, gala attendees will enjoy a black-tie dinner in Commonwealth Plaza, with catering by Garces and “Old Hollywood” décor by Evantine Design. This year’s post-gala after party will include music and dancing.

A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the 2017 Philadelphia Orchestra Award to Robert and Joan Rechnitz, in recognition of their remarkable philanthropy in support of the Orchestra. Mr. Rechnitz, the founder and executive director of Two River Theater Company, has been a member of the Board of Directors of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association since 2011. Mr. Rechnitz’s leadership and generous support, both of the Orchestra as well as his other philanthropic endeavors, serve as an invaluable resource to the arts and beyond.

Free tickets to the concert will be distributed to a number of the Orchestra’s community partners, including the All-City Orchestra, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Settlement Music School, and Play On, Philly!. The concert tickets and All-City Orchestra’s participation reflect the Education and Access branches of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s HEAR initiative, a portfolio of programs that promotes Health, champions music Education, eliminates barriers to Accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact through Research.

The musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and guest artist Emanuel Ax have graciously donated their services for this concert. All gala events are organized by The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Volunteer Committees under the direction of Volunteer Committees President Lisa Yakulis. The evening is supported through a generous lead benefactor sponsorship from Caroline and Sidney Kimmel. Sara Cerato (representing the Volunteer Association), Mark Dichter (representing the Board of Directors), and William Polk (violinist representing the Orchestra’s musicians) are co-chairs of the 2017 Opening Gala Committee. Early support of the Opening Night Concert and Gala was led by The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Board of Directors and dedicated Volunteers.

Gala tickets are currently on sale, starting at $500.00, and are available by calling 215.893.1956. Concert-only tickets range from $50.00-$95.00 and are available through Ticket Philadelphia at 215.893.1999 or by visiting philorch.org. For more information on attending the Gala, visit philorch.org/opening-night. Young Friends of The Philadelphia Orchestra are invited to attend the Opening Night Concert and Gala for the special price of $175.00.

The Volunteer Committees were formed in 1904, four years after the Orchestra’s first concerts. The Women’s Committee, as it was originally called, was the first permanent organization of its kind in the U.S., and has since come to serve as a model for similar groups in the United States and abroad. The current Volunteer Committees for the Philadelphia Orchestra include Central, Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill Musical Cocktails, Main Line, New Jersey, Rittenhouse Square, and West Philadelphia. Through their endeavors over the past century, thousands of members of the Volunteer Committees have given countless hours and their innumerable talents in service to The Philadelphia Orchestra and the people of the greater Philadelphia region.

Opening Night

October 5 at 7:00 PM Concert – Thursday evening – Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts


The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Harmony Zhu Piano

Emanuel Ax Piano


Bernstein                                Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront

Beethoven                              First Movement from Piano Concerto No. 1

Bernstein                                Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

The Opening Night Concert and Gala for the 2017-18 season promises to be a highlight of the cultural year. Yannick and the Fabulous Philadelphians are planning a special celebratory program that features works honoring the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birthday, including the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and a suite from his only film score, On the Waterfront.

This year's black-tie event promises the fellowship of friends gathering to celebrate the unique Philadelphia Sound. Join the shared revelry of incredible food, drink, and memorable music, all under the Kimmel Center's soaring roof of stars. The concert will be performed with no intermission.

For gala information and tickets, please call 215.893.1956 or visit philorch.org/openingnight.

For concert-only tickets, call 215.893.1999 or visit www.philorch.org.


The Philadelphia Orchestra would like to extend sincere gratitude to our 2017 Opening Night Supporters.

Movie Mogul

Caroline and Sidney Kimmel     


Edith R. Dixon 

David W. Haas

Leslie A. Miller and Richard B. Worley

Neubauer Family Foundation     


Mark and Tobey Dichter

Dilworth Paxson LLP               

Carole Haas Gravagno


Mrs. Vivian W. Piasecki

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP            

Starring Role

Ballard Spahr LLP                    

Jeff Benoliel and Amy Branch

Peter A. Benoliel and Willo Carey

Judith Broudy

Richard S. Burns & Company

Sara A. Cerato

Chimicles and Tikellis

Alexandra Edsall and Robert Victor

Marie and Joseph Field

Firstrust Bank              

Dr. Marcy Gringlas and Mr. Joel Greenberg       

Kay and Harry Halloran             

Ken Hutchins                

Drs. Leon and Elsa Malmud      

Lynn and Joe Manko    

John McFadden and Lisa Kabnick

PNC Bank                   

Louise and Alan Reed   

Dr. and Mrs. Milton L. Rock      

Jeffrey and Dianne Rotwitt        

Mark and Robin Rubenstein

Saul Ewing LLP           

Jo Ann and Joseph Townsend              

Ramona and Jack Vosbikian     

Wawa, Inc.                  

Lisa and Paul Yakulis


Hollywood Agent

Sherrin Baky-Nessler and William Nessler

Sibby Brasler

Flo and Rick Celender  

Michael and Constance Cone

Toby and Bruce Eisenstein

Martin W. Field

Mark and Rebecca Foley

John and Nancy Galloway         

John and Judy Glick

Penelope Harris

Osagie and Losenge Imasogie

Rachelle and Ronald Kaiserman

Neal W. Krouse

Edwin Mahoney

Sandra Marshall

Robert E. Mortensen    

Dr. and Mrs. Joel Porter

Caroline B. Rogers

Adele Schaeffer           

Mari and Peter Shaw

Lee F. Shilfer   

Constance Smukler      

Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Spinelli

Randy Swartz and Judith Sills Swartz    

Leonard and Barbara Sylk

List complete as of August 1, 2017


About The Philadelphia Orchestra


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Ashley Berke




Amanda N. Conte