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Denève Conducts Time for Three

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Orchestral Series
Saturday, July 8, 2023 at 6pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

The boundary-defying Time for Three joins the Orchestra in Kevin Puts’ Contact—a concerto written for the group—in addition to Stravinsky’s magical Firebird Suite and audience-favorite Boléro in this Denève-led program.   

The Philadelphia Orchestra's distinctive sound returns to Bravo! Vail for its annual residency in July. The Fabulous Philadelphians are admired for a legacy of innovation and known for their keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences.

All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.​

Program Details

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Time for Three, string trio
     Nick Kendall, violin
     Charles Yang, violin
     Ranaan Meyer, double bass

STRAVINSKY Firebird Suite (1919 Version)
RAVEL Boléro

PRE-CONCERT TALK 5:00PM - Johanna Frymoyer (University of Notre Dame), speaker in the Gerald R Ford Amphitheater Lobby. 

POP-UP JAM SESSION POST-CONCERT:  Join members of Time for Three in the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater Main lobby right after the concert for a special jam session with the trio to round out the night! 

Guest Artists

Stéphane Denève


Time for Three

string trio

Program Notes

Contact (2020-21)

(30 minutes)

KEVIN PUTS (B. 1972)

The Call
Codes (Scherzo)


Kevin Puts, who teaches composition at the Peabody Institute, is noted for richly colored scores that incorporate vocabularies ranging from delicate minimalism to lush neo-Romanticism. He is acclaimed for his four operas: his first, Silent Night (2010), earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Music and has been produced repeatedly in North America and Europe, while his most recent, The Hours (2022), was given by the Metropolitan Opera this past season, following its world premiere in a concert-hall setting by The Philadelphia Orchestra in March 2022.

He has also composed an impressive output of instrumental music, including four symphonies and a dozen concertos—most recently Contact, which won the 2023 Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. After Time for Three asked him to write a concerto, he heard them perform their song “Vertigo,” in which they both play and sing. “I wondered about the possibility of beginning the concerto with the trio singing a wordless refrain, a cappella,” he said. “I wrote a chord progression which unfolds from a single note and progresses through simple, suspended harmonies. ... This idea, first heard in a reflective manner, grows considerably until the orchestral brass deliver a most emphatic version of it. This first movement (“The Call”) ends with the same sense of questioning with which it began.

The second movement (“Codes”) displays unrelenting energy, and the third (“Contact”) is cold and stark. For the finale, he drew inspiration from a Bulgarian dance and wrote “a sort of fantasy on this tune, its asymmetric rhythmic qualities a fitting counterbalance to the previous three movements.” “The word contact has gained new resonance during these years of isolation,” the composer observes. “It is my hope that this concerto might be heard as an expression of yearning for this fundamental human need.”


(18 minutes)

Firebird Suite (1909-10/1919)

(22 minutes)


Firebird Suite (1919 Version) 
Introduction; The Firebird and its Dance; Variation of the Firebird
The Princesses’ Round-Dance (Khorovod)
Infernal Dance of King Kashchei—


The opportunity to compose The Firebird, the first of Igor Stravinsky’s many full-length scores for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, came to him almost by accident. Diaghilev asked his own one-time harmony professor Anatoly Lyadov to write the score; but after months of Lyadov’s procrastination, Diaghilev turned to young Stravinsky, who had previously created a few orchestrations for the troupe, and received the dazzling score four months later. In this tale, drawn from Russian folklore, dashing Prince Ivan captures the Firebird, which helps him smash a magic egg that harbors the power of malevolent King Kashchei; that breaks a web of evil enchantment, freeing Ivan to marry a beautiful Princess who was liberated through his act.

The ballet, premiered in 1910, was well established by the time Stravinsky assembled several of its movements into a symphonic suite in 1919. This is one of music’s great showpieces of orchestration, a remarkable tour[1]de-force from a composer gaining his first international renown. Some of the effects are frankly startling, such as when, in the introduction, the strings play eerie glissandos over the instruments’ fingerboards to evoke the mystery of the garden at night. When the Firebird dances it does so to a set of variations on a Russian song, and the overlay of wind orchestration makes us believe that its feathers must indeed sparkle with magic. More folk tunes inform the Princesses’ Round-Dance, which is thrown into disarray when Kashchei’s diabolical guards swarm onto the scene with their Infernal Dance. A solo violin comes to the fore in the tender Lullaby; and, with the evil spells broken, the Finale depicts a breathtakingly beautiful wedding processional for the Prince and his chosen Princess.

Boléro (1928)

(17 minutes)

MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937)



More ballet music, this time written in 1928 by Maurice Ravel for the troupe of Ida Rubinstein. At first, he demurred, asking instead if he could just orchestrate an existing piece by Albéniz; but in the end, he decided to write something original, explaining, “After all, I would have orchestrated my own music much more quickly than anyone else’s.” When all is said and done, the piece he wrote turned out to be principally orchestration.

The work’s extended, sinuous melody is surely memorable, but it is the only melody in the entire 17-minute piece, and it is repeated over and over without the slightest development or elaboration until near the very end. The harmony, working in lockstep with the melody, is similarly repetitive and unvarying. Since the melody never changes, its rhythm (like its pitches) remains always constant; and so does the essentially unpitched two-bar rhythmic figure that accompanies the melody. In the course of Boléro that rhythmic cell is heard ceaselessly, 169 times over, collapsing only in the rupture of the final few measures. By dint of obsessive repetition, the interest of the melody, harmony, and rhythm is dissipated; the listener remains very much aware of them, but their unchanging patterns soothe the ear into complacency. What keeps the piece so exciting is the kaleidoscopic shifting of its sound—the brilliant orchestration that builds from next to nothing to an overwhelming conclusion.

At the first orchestral rehearsal, Ravel was as astonished as everyone else by the momentum his piece conveyed, but he nonetheless told his friends that so radical an experiment could never find a place in normal orchestral concerts. It became an instant mega-hit, securing an unshakeable niche in the repertoire.


The Philadelphia Orchestra is admired for a legacy of innovation and known for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences. This Orchestra’s distinctive sound returns to Bravo! Vail for its 16th residency in 2023.

All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.

Presented At

Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater