The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Opens on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts
Opening Weekend Celebrations Headlined by the World-Renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, Rock Legend Elton John, and a Full Roster of Free Performances
December 14, 2001
The December 16th opening of the spectacular $265 million Kimmel Center will kick off a two-week Opening Celebration featuring daily free performances. More than 130 artists and performing groups from around the region will entertain crowds at lunchtime and before and after evening concerts. Special family programs will give kids a chance to try on theatrical costumes or try out musical instruments.
"The Kimmel Center is both a world-class performing arts center and a community center where every member of our richly diverse community will be welcome," says Regional Performing Arts (RPAC) President Leslie Anne Miller. "Philadelphians have dreamed of this for a long time. We're thrilled to open our doors and welcome the public."
"This extraordinary building puts Philadelphia on the architectural and artistic world maps," says RPAC Chairman Willard G. Rouse III, "but it will also be a centerpiece of community activity and a source of civic pride. Thousands of men and women have given their hearts and souls and worked incredible hours to bring something truly great into existence. For those who said we could never do this in Philadelphia, we are happy to have proven them wrong. The Kimmel Center is a world-class building in a world-class city."
The public opening of the stunning $265 million Center will be preceded by two nights of sold-out, black-tie, gala preview concerts. On Friday, December 14, members of The Philadelphia Orchestra, pianist Andre Watts, opera singers Denyce Graves and Frederica von Stade and Pop Star Sir Elton John will perform. On Saturday, December 15, the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra will debut in its new home, performing works by Beethoven and Ravel, and a premiere by Philadelphia native Aaron Jay Kernis. The Philadelphia Orchestra will be joined by violinst Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax.
The Kimmel Center is named for businessman and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel, who grew up in West Philadelphia and has donated $30 million to the project.
Architect Rafael Viñoly describes The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts as "two jewels inside of a glass box." The "jewels" are the 2,500-seat Verizon Hall, a cello-shaped concert hall with mahogany walls and state-of-the-art acoustics designed especially for The Philadelphia Orchestra by Russell Johnson, and the 650-seat Perelman Theater, with a stage that rotates to accommodate chamber music, recitals and dance. The two performance spaces are free-standing structures, surrounded by a public plaza, walkways, restaurants, a gift shop, and a roof-top garden offering spectacular views of the Philadelphia skyline. The "glass box" refers to the soaring barrel-vault ceiling with its 140,000 square feet of glass reflecting light from all directions, and the 600-ton front and back glass walls. The glass "end walls" are supported by stainless steel cables and, like a suspension bridge, are designed to move two feet in either direction in high wind.
The Kimmel Center is owned and operated by the non-profit Regional Performing Arts Center. RPAC also manages the historic Academy of Music. The two venues combined will be home to The Philadelphia Orchestra and seven other resident companies. The Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall will be home to The Philadelphia Orchestra and Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. The Perelman Theater will be home to The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, American Theater Arts for Youth, PHILADANCO, and The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Pennsylvania Ballet and the Opera Company of Philadelphia will continue to make their home in the Academy of Music.
RPAC also will present special events and concerts featuring visiting performers from around the world. December highlights include holiday performances (Vienna Choir Boys, Canadian Brass), Broadway (Tony-winner Audra McDonald, Michael Feinstein and Betty Buckley), jazz (Branford Marsalis Quartet & Joshua Redman Quartet), Latin music (Fiesta Latino with Jimmy Bosch) and an ice show (St. Petersburg State Ballet on Ice, Sleeping Beauty on Ice). Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by calling Ticket Philadelphia at 215-893-1999, or on line at www.kimmelcenter.org.
No tickets are required to enjoy The Kimmel Center's inviting public spaces and breathtaking views. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be open to the public seven days a week. Admission to the building is free.