Curtis Studio Presents: Scheherazade

Now available on all major digital music platforms.

Hear the Orchestra Live

Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya leads Curtis Symphony Orchestra in an evening of firsts and favorites.

January 29, 2023 at 2 p.m.
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center

Discover Scheherazade

Inspired by an anonymous collection of traditional Arabic, Persian, and Indian fairytales—known today as The Thousand and One Nights, or The Arabian Nights—Scheherazade is a reimagining. Composed in the summer of 1888, it is a unique musical experience born of the confluence of famed Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s personal history and a culture he barely knew, passed through the lens of prodigious musical artistry.

The Story of Scheherazade

In the myth of Scheherazade, a mad Sultan takes a new wife each night only to then have her put to death the following morning. In the titular Scheherazade, the Sultan meets his match. Over 1,001 nights, she saves the lives of a thousand women—as well as her own—by relaying to the Sultan an endless series of engrossing stories.

It is this power of storytelling, a music of the mind able to move mountains and stay the hand of death, which is heard and felt so deeply in the recording.

About the Recording

In December 2021, conductor Osmo Vänskä and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra set out to record a stunning new rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Recorded at the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, including on the iconic Field Concert Hall stage, Vänskä and the Orchestra did more than just recapture the enchanting nature of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral gem, itself an aural reimagining of that ancient and oft-told myth.

“Scheherazade demands musical virtuosity and highlights the magnificent artistry of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra,” says Vince Ford, executive producer of Curtis Studio.

Indeed, what resulted from those sessions is a true achievement: The very first recording produced by Curtis Studio, released in coordination with Platoon, told through the talents of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

“These musicians represent a very bright future for classical music,” Ford adds. “We are thrilled to share their performances through Curtis Studio.”

Osmo Vänskä appears courtesy of BIS Records.

01 - 08 A behind-the-scenes image of Scheherazade recording sessions.

02 - 08 Conductor Osmo Vänskä and members of Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

03 - 08 Recording sessions took place in spaces across Curtis Institute of Music.

04 - 08 Conductor Vänskä and the Orchestra recorded across several weeks.

05 - 08 4k camers were utilized to capture the performance in the highest possible quality.

06 - 08 Scheherazade is a product of the Performance Innovation Lab at Curtis.

07 - 08 Curtis's Gould Rehearsal Hall was one of the spaces for recording.

08 - 08 Recording began in December 2021 and completed in January 2022.

Curtis Studio

Curtis Studio is a creative effort from Curtis’s Performance Innovation Lab intended to make recordings of classical music more readily available via modern means, specifically streaming services such as Platoon.

Curtis studio logo

“The three pillars of Curtis—teaching, touring, and technology—will each be propelled by this groundbreaking initiative,” said Curtis President and CEO Roberto Díaz. “Curtis Studio presents an opportunity to share our internationally renowned musicianship globally in an accessible way. We deeply treasure this opportunity to further our digital presence and teach the recording process as a fundamental component of a musician’s career.”

Throughout its history, Curtis has regularly commissioned established and emerging voices to create new music and explore new ideas. Recent commissions include work from Bright Sheng, Jennifer Higdon, Richard Danielpour, Gabriella Smith (Composition ’13), and David Serkin Ludwig (Composition ’01). Curtis Studio is the natural next step to continue this vital process of presenting and commissioning new works alongside beloved classical compositions, all performed at the highest level.

In the coming months and years, Curtis Studio will continue to feature performances of established alumni, venerated faculty, in-house ensembles and, of course, our students.