November 11-17, 2004


Chamber Music at Society Hill Synagogue


The most common venues for live classical music in Philadelphia, as in many other cities, are religious sanctuaries. Why not? The spaces are cheap, and the seating capacity is usually ideal for smaller ensembles. The big problem is the highly variable acoustics; the thick stone walls of many of the grand churches on the west side of Broad Street create highly distracting reverberant effects. The older, mainly wooden-and-plaster interiors of the churches east of Broad are generally far more forgiving. Christ Church and St. Peter’s, for example, are really superb acoustical spaces. The elegant Society Hill Synagogue, which was designed by the renowned neoclassical architect Thomas Walter as a Baptist church in 1829, may be the newest star in the firmament. Several members of the Philadelphia Orchestra have fallen in love with the sound here, and are launching a new chamber music series. The unusual program favors strings, with music of Johann Michael Haydn, Beethoven, Kodaly and concluding with the gorgeous String Quintet of Dvorak.

Sun., Nov. 14, 3 p.m., $15, Society Hill Synagogue, 418 Spruce St., 215-922-6590.

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