Now out of bankruptcy, the Philadelphia Orchestra, our "native" orchestra so to put it, under the leadership of its new music director-designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is holding this Thursday through Saturday (21 June-23 June) at the orchestra's old home, Philadelphia's Academy of Music, a centennial celebration of the orchestra's beginnings as an internationally recognized ensemble under the leadership of the flamboyant Leopold Stokowski, the brilliant but eccentric conductor responsible for the orchestra's world-famous signature "Philadelphia sound" (which, alas, we fear is no more) and for raising the then young and decidedly provincial orchestra to world-class status (Stokowski was the orchestra's sole conductor from 1912-1936). We're of course far too young to have heard the orchestra live under Stokowski's direction during those years, but we did hear the orchestra live with Stokowski on the podium once: at a 1962 concert by the orchestra at its admission-free Philadelphia outdoor summer performance venue, the famed Robin Hood Dell (renamed Robin Hood Dell East in the '70s and no longer a summer venue for the orchestra or for classical music performance). Stokowski had been invited there to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his assumption of the orchestra’s leadership in 1912, and it would be the first time he'd stood in front of the orchestra since 1939 or so. Needless to say, the Dell was packed and not so much as a square foot of unoccupied ground could be seen. When the 80-year-old Stokowski walked onstage and mounted the podium the greeting from both audience and orchestra, all on their feet, was long, vocal, and thunderous. When things finally quieted down, Stoki addressed all assembled beginning with the words, "As I was saying when I last stood here...." The crowd — orchestra included — went crazy. When things again finally quieted down, Stoki briefly but graciously thanked everyone and then abruptly turned his attention to the opening number: Debussy's La Mer, if we remember correctly. He hadn't gotten through more than the first twenty or so pages of the score when the raucous sound of a low-flying military helicopter rent the air. Stoki calmly stopped the performance in mid-paragraph, waited until all was silent, then began again — from the top. He had to do that three times during that concert, each time beginning again from the top of whatever piece was interrupted and the audience — and, mirabile dictu!, the orchestra — loved him for it. Today in America, no conductor could get away with that. Today in America, no conductor would even dare try. But this was Stoki and this was Philadelphia and this was the early 1960s when classical music was still of cultural importance to educated-class Americans. Today, along with Stoki, those long-past days are gone forever and we suspect their like will never again be seen — not in our lifetime at any rate. Sad.