All the works to be performed have a connection with the Academy, which was built as an opera house. The Verdi excerpts to be performed were sung at its opening season in 1857; Il trovatore, the first opera performed at the Academy, will be represented by the tenor aria "Di quella pira."
The Academy frequently hosts popular music — in recognition of which the concert will close with a guest appearance by Rod Stewart, who will perform songs from his Great American Songbook and Greatest Hits albums, accompanied by Peter Nero on piano.
The program also includes Ravel's "General Dance" from Daphnis et Chlo_ and music from the soundtrack of Disney's Fantasia, which the orchestra recorded at the Academy in 1939.
The annual Anniversary Ball, this year at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, will follow the concert. The ball has been held each January for fifty years and is a major local fundraiser.
The Academy is owned by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and served as the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra for more than a century, from the ensemble's founding in 1900 to the opening of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in December 2001. The Kimmel Center organization now operates the Academy, which serves as the main venue for the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Opera Company of Philadelphia.