Philly’s 3rd Gift to the World: Cultural Institutions, City Traditions

Another night, another gift from Philadelphia to the rest of the blogosphere. Tonight is an abbreviated celebration* of some of the city’s cultural heritage and, well, culture.

You might have heard recently that Philadelphia has the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, my org gots its own tacky production number, which was a proud proud moment for this kitsch-loving culture hound. My favorite bears—one and two—also came by for a visit. (“Thank you, Bear!”)

Between Ormandy and Muti, the Orchestra has a long and storied history. (And a somewhat embattled present, but I’ll post more about that in a couple of days.) Their new home in the Kimmel Center has had some mixed reviews along the way, but I gotta say that the Perelman Theater has become one of my favorite concert rooms in the city.

For those inclined towards the visual arts, there’s the big museum, of course, and a cadre of renowned painters with local ties. We may or may not have Eakins’s Gross Clinic ’round these parts come 2007 (news flash! 1/3 of the Walton match raised! Anne d’Harnoncourt calling to ask for your pledge before Christmas!), but the Brandywine River Museum will still be a treasure trove of three Wyeth generations, and if you stand in Independence Mall and look up on the right June day, you’ll see leaves of a certain gold against a sky of a certain blue that will make you understand exactly where Maxfield Parrish’s color sense came from.**

Every February brings another set of wedding vows in front of TFI’s Giant Heart. June brings the Manayunk Arts Fest. September brings the Fringe. And every other month and week brings another event: whether that event is monthly, annual, or one-of-a-kind. Headlong at First Fridays. Hey: First Fridays in and of themselves—and now the Second Fridays that occur in University City. One of the richest choral scences I’ve seen—four top-grade choirs, and at least a dozen smaller ensembles of fine caliber. And, I’m just learning, an incredibly vibrant improv community. (I’ll be posting more about THAT in a few days, as well.)

I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg, but I hope this gift has been sketched sufficient to depict its value. A pearl of great price.

* I had hoped to write much longer and more eloquent post. But it’s been a crap day in more manners than I choose to catalogue.

** While you’re visiting the Wyeths, drop in on the Duponts and say hello to my favorite fountain in Longwood. While you’re remembering Parrish, step into the Curtis center to see one of my favorite Tiffany murals—ever. (And if you get to know more about me, you’ll understand how signifanct a statement of praise that is.)

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