By Peter Dobrin
Inquirer Classical Music Critic
The moment at which the Philadelphia Orchestra's purpose in life achieved greatest clarity came at 8 p.m.
That's the time the ensemble starts most of its concerts, but not on this late-September Tuesday. This one had started at 6 p.m., not in a concert hall but at City Hall. And six hours earlier, a city police officer had been killed.
"Assassinated," Mayor Nutter had told the crowd of about 3,000 who had come to hear the long-planned outdoor performance
Instead of being sealed in at Verizon Hall, apart from the city, the orchestra on this night was the city. By 8 p.m., as the last moments of Gershwin's "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" from Porgy and Bess were being sweetly laid to rest, the bells from the old PNB tower rang out. An ambulance sounding its siren passed Dilworth Plaza, opening the imagination to some family's unfolding tragedy. Fountains filled in little cracks of silence in the music.
Here was the city, its magnificence and precariousness commingling without either offering explanation to the other, the way it happens in life for so many people."
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