The Philadelphia Orchestra fires up another season this weekend in Verizon Hall with music director Christoph Eschenbach conducting. This year the orchestra will focus on Beethoven, including all nine symphonies in vaguely chronological order. This is not uncharted territory- Beethoven’s symphonies are not underplayed by any means- but is quite welcome and probably will sell more tickets than, say, a Hindemith festival. This weekend starts, of course, with the Symphony No. 1, an early and very Haydn-esque piece, but unmistakably Beethoven in its boundless energy. For good measure, the orchestra adds Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 5, famous for its first few notes but a tightly constructed thrill ride the whole way through. The final piece is a more daring choice, “The Shadows of Time” by French modernist Henri Dutilleux. The concert is today at 2:00, Saturday at 8:00, and Tuesday at 8:00. Verizon Hall is part of the Kimmel Center, a 15 minute walk south from Suburban Station on Broad Street.
Student tickets for all Philadelphia Orchestra concerts are cheap, if a bit of a hassle. They are known as student understudy tickets, and give you any empty seat (usually a very good seat), and are available for all except the most sold-out concerts. They cost $8 at the box office, and can be bought starting an hour before the concert, though you may want to arrive a bit before that to get in line, especially if its a popular concert. Five minutes before the concert begins, the ushers lead you to an empty seat. Occasionally a latecomer evicts you from your seat, but you can usually find another (though not always- wear comfortable shoes).
If that’s not to your tastes, try a trip to the movies. The Ritz, located in three locations in the Old City, offers cheap student tickets at matin?es and during the week. Canadian director David Cronenberg’s latest film, “A History of Violence,” opens this weekend. The story of an apparently peaceful family man (Viggo Mortensen) who heroically defends his diner from violent thieves, it’s sure to be creepy and a half. Turns out the family man might not be quite as nice a guy as everyone thought (you won’t see us there, we’re still having nightmares after Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”). Other movies include “Proof”, an adaptation of the acclaimed David Auburn play starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Wong Kar Wai’s soon-to-be cult classic, “2046” with Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li, and Tony Leung, and, for the truly soft at heart, “March of the Penguins”. Check http://www.ritzfilmbill.com for times and locations. Have a great weekend!