Penn Live Arts 21/22 Season Calendar

June 29, 2021

This calendar is current as of 6.29.21. Programs subject to change. Please confirm listings before publication.

Events take place at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, unless otherwise noted.

September 2021

Alarm Will Sound
Ten Thousand Birds

Saturday, September 25, 1 PM
Saturday, September 25, 4 PM
Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue

The “unusually versatile, reliably exhilarating new-music ensemble” (The New York Times) Alarm Will Sound makes its Penn Live Arts debut, returning to Philadelphia after a 12-year hiatus with the local premiere of Ten Thousand Birds by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy® Award-winning composer John Luther Adams. This experiential, open-ended collection of pieces is based on native birdsong, encompassing a range of colors and instrumentation and newly informed by actual migration patterns tracked at the Morris Arboretum. The audience roves freely around the space and the performers, experiencing the music from many perspectives as human creativity and natural phenomena blur.

November 2021

Maceo Parker
Friday, November 19, 8 PM

Maceo Parker is the king of funk and one of the primary architects of modern R&B. He honed his chops playing with funk’s founding fathers, then leading his own group, deftly navigating from soul and freaky funk to the mellower side of jazz and hip-hop grooves. This "lancing, quick-phrasing alto saxophone blazer” (The New York Times) returns to the Penn campus on the heels of a brand-new album, his first in eight years, which blends raw, old school funk with the flavors of New Orleans. Ultimately, Parker is “a consummate entertainer whose band shares his single-minded mission to get audiences on their feet and leave them moved and grooved.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

December 2021

Dorrance Dance
Thursday, December 9, 7:30 PM
Friday, December 10, 8 PM
Saturday, December 11, 2 PM
Saturday, December 11, 8 PM

Tap superstar and MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance is “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today." (The New Yorker) In this Penn Live Arts debut and Philadelphia premiere, tap dance meets holiday favorites from The Nutcracker Suite, boasting boogies, slides, struts and dives into Duke Ellington’s intoxicating interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic. Get ready to enter a world of jazz, swingin’ syncopation and vernacular sugar, persuading us all to be a little more soulful this holiday season.

Cécile McLorin Salvant
Sunday, December 12, 7 PM

“The finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade,” (The New York Times) multi-Grammy® Award winner Cécile McLorin Salvant makes her Penn Live Arts debut, bringing historical perspective, a sense of theatricality and an enlightened musical understanding to both jazz standards and original compositions. Salvant has become a must-see jazz vocalist using her nearly four-octave range and electric stage presence to wow critics and fans alike, and “regularly and rightly, is considered one of the greatest jazz singers of her generation, but that label sells her short.” (Rolling Stone)

An Evening with Chris Thile
Thursday, December 16, 7:30 PM

Making his Penn Live Arts debut, multiple Grammy® Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile is a mandolinist, composer and vocalist whose music is “full of whimsy and breathless virtuosity.” (The New York Times) A member of the much-lauded groups Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers, Thile has also released several solo albums, including Laysongs (June 2021), and was host of the popular radio program Live from Here. “Chris Thile is amazing,” transcending the borders of conventional music genres as “a graceful and soulful singer, relaxed raconteur, dazzling virtuoso, gifted composer and all-around charmer.” (The Washington Post)

Co-presented with World Cafe Live.

The Crossing @ Christmas
Carols After a Plague
Friday, December 17, 7 PM
Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, 1904 Walnut Street

“America’s most astonishing choir” (The New York Times) reflects on this unique time in history as we begin to emerge from isolation and resume experiencing music together. To mark the holiday season and celebrate the value of life, conductor Donald Nally and The Crossing chose 12 composers of diverse background, style, experience, identity and race who will collectively contemplate our recent past. Known for an “embrace of the new, a social conscience and fearless technique,” (The New York Times) The Crossing seeks to find the right words to fit this moment of our lives.

Leila Adu, Ambrose Akinmusire, Alex Berko, Edith Canat de Chizy, Viet Cuong, Samantha Fernando, Mary Jane Leach, Shara Nova, Joseph C. Phillips Jr., Nina Shekhar, Tyshawn Sorey, LJ White

January 2022

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Thursday, January 20, 7:30 PM
Friday, January 21, 8 PM
Saturday, January 22, 2 PM
Saturday, January 22, 8 PM

Savagely funny satire meets seriously stunning ballet in the gender-bending Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Dancing the fine line between high art and high camp, the Trocks, as they’re lovingly called, are an all-male ballet troupe that honors ballet classics such as Swan Lake, while also poking fun at every artistic conceit. The Trocks “prove how parody and virtuosic technique work in glittering tandem,” (The New York Times) offering a laugh-out-loud show for dance aficionados and novices alike.

Campbell Brothers
John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme

Friday, January 28, 8 PM

Masters of a little-known American musical tradition, the Campbell Brothers have helped establish sacred steel, a fusion of African American gospel with electric steel guitars and soaring vocals. Now, the group takes on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, a seminal recording that evidenced how Coltrane’s expansive musical innovations intertwined with his religious devotion. With their signature slide guitars and particular attention to the album’s transcendent spiritual message, this Philadelphia premiere offers “a soul-stirring blend of gospel and the power and volume of electric blues and rock, a sound as hot as brimstone that kicks holy butt.” (NPR)

Cirque Mechanics
Birdhouse Factory

Sunday, January 30, 3 PM

Hailed as “the greatest contribution to the American circus since Cirque du Soleil” (Spectacle Magazine), Cirque Mechanics returns with the Philadelphia premiere of Birdhouse Factory, where a group of 1930’s workers are brought together by the most unlikely of events. Enjoy breathtaking acrobatics, zany antics and an enchanting story of laughter, joy and, of course, birdhouses. Inspired by American ingenuity and all things mechanical, Birdhouse Factory is “exceptional, evocative, eye-catching, ear-catching and, to keep the list short, engrossingly entertaining.” (The New York Times)

February 2022

The Jazz Gallery All-Stars
Friday, February 4, 8 PM

New York City’s Jazz Gallery has nurtured generations of jazz stars over the past 25 years, many who boast Grammy® Awards, MacArthur Fellowships and top competition prizes. Now, eight of its leading creative voices come together to celebrate this ongoing legacy. Saxophonists Miguel Zenón and Morgan Guerin, vibraphonist Joel Ross, guitarist Charles Altura, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Linda Oh, drummer Kendrick Scott and guest vocalist Renee Neufville will bring an evening of original compositions and some favorites by The Jazz Gallery founder, Roy Hargrove.

Teatro delle Albe
fedeli d'Amore

Friday, February 4, 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 5, 8 PM

Written by Marco Martinelli
Devised and directed by Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari

Teatro delle Albe is one of Italy’s most respected contemporary theatre companies, earning world-wide acclaim for its innovative style and boundary-pushing approach to traditional theatre. Co-founded by Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari, the troupe makes its Philadelphia debut with the U.S. premiere of fedeli d'Amore (Love’s Faithful). Written by Martinelli as a “polyptych in seven panels,” the work reflects on Dante Alighieri and the contemporary world through evocative vocal, musical and visual dramaturgy. Audiences will experience this visceral staging of the last visions of Dante during his final passage from life to death.

Performed in Italian with English supertitles.

Presented in partnership with Penn’s Italian Studies program.

Trinity Irish Dance Company
Friday, February 18, 8 PM
Saturday, February 19, 2 PM
Saturday, February 19, 8 PM

Trinity Irish Dance Company is the birthplace of progressive Irish dance. With hard-driving percussive power, lightning-fast agility and aerial grace, expect "award-winning exactness with an experimental edge" (The Chicago Tribune) as this troupe fuses Ireland’s vibrant tradition and legacy with ever-evolving, American innovation. Trinity’s “impossibly complex” (The New York Times) and awe-inspiring Irish dance delivers everything audiences expect, but more than they can possibly imagine.

March 2022

Humans 2.0

Friday, March 11, 8 PM
Saturday, March 12, 2 PM

Created by Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble.

Australia’s bold, contemporary circus troupe, Circa, makes an exhilarating return with a new love letter to humanity, following their smash hit, Humans, which had its U.S. premiere on the Zellerbach stage in fall 2018. Offering “spellbinding physical drama, with just the right amount of play, death-defying tricks and whimsical imagery,” (The Conversation, Australia) Humans 2.0 is a joyous, searching production where 10 performers find redemptive power in strength, sharing a much-needed message of hope for a pandemic-weary world. “Circa lives up to their reputation for the astonishing in Humans 2.0,” (The Sydney Morning Herald) pushing the boundaries of what circus and acrobatics can be in this thrilling Philadelphia premiere.

Rennie Harris: LIFTED
Friday, March 18, 8 PM
Saturday, March 19, 2 PM
Saturday, March 19, 8 PM

Rennie Harris, “the most brilliant hip-hop choreographer in America,” (The New Yorker) returns with the Philadelphia premiere of LIFTED. This evening-length, hip-hop theatre production merges the rhythms of house music with the moving vocals of a live gospel choir to explore community and spirituality through dance. Loosely based on the story of Oliver Twist, LIFTED follows a young black man from trouble to triumph as he is ultimately saved by his church family. “Joyous music and dance” (The Chicago Tribune) abound in this epic, hip-hop narrative.

Ravi Coltrane
Saturday, March 26, 8 PM

“There are few saxophonists in jazz today as silvery and deft as Ravi Coltrane.” (The New York Times) Born into jazz royalty, the son of musicians John and Alice, this Grammy®-nominated musician continues the legacy he inherited by carving out his own individual sound. As a bandleader who has collaborated with a veritable who’s who of jazz, Coltrane’s ensemble “demonstrates its marvelous technical capabilities and keen musicianship, and their imaginative interpretations suggest strength and resolve, a fluid embodiment of question and answer,” (NPR) making for a fascinating musical journey.

The Crossing
In a House Besieged

Sunday, March 27, 7 PM
Saint Mark’s Church, 1625 Locust Street 

“Brilliant organist” (Dallas Morning News) Scott Dettra joins the “adventurous, fiercely talented choir,” (The New York Times) The Crossing, for the world premiere of Stacy Garrop’s In a House Besieged. With a fragmented libretto of Lydia Davis’ writings, the work reflects the troubled world of her stories in which destruction is everywhere yet elusive. The program also includes Lansing McCloskey’s The Memory of Rain, a piece based on poems by 2011 U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine, as well as two introspective works by the Estonian spiritual minimalist, Arvo Pärt, I am the true vine and The Beatitudes.

April 2022

SFJAZZ Collective
Sunday, April 3, 7 PM

“Contemporary jazz’s premier all-star band,” (The New York Times) SFJAZZ Collective returns to the Zellerbach stage boasting four exciting new members: Lizz Wright (vocals), Chris Potter (saxophone), Aneesa Strings (bass) and Kendrick A.D. Scott (drums). An ensemble packed with Grammy® Award winners and nominees, what the group’s musicians “bring to the table as composers, arrangers and players...that's the real reason the SFJAZZ Collective continues to be so successful.” (All About Jazz) The program for this special tour features new compositions by the band, all inspired by and in response to the extraordinary social and global issues the world has faced over the last year.

Zakir Hussain

Thursday, April 7, 7:30 PM

“The presiding genius and global ambassador for North Indian classical music” (The Telegraph) Zakir Hussain returns to our stage, joined for the first time by Kala Ramnath, an innovative representative of North Indian raga tradition, and Jayanthi Kumaresh, the leading exponent of the ancient South Indian veena. An international phenomenon and true virtuoso, Hussain leads an exploration of the varied musical dialogues of North and South Indian rhythm traditions. Don’t miss this Penn Live Arts favorite, as “if there is such a thing as a tabla superstar, Indian virtuoso Zakir Hussain is it.” (The Chicago Tribune)

Lila Downs
Thursday, April 21, 7:30 PM 

Vocalist Lila Downs is a global superstar whose exquisite artistry bridges the musical traditions of Mexico and South America with North American folk, jazz and blues. “Few alternative artists have the dynamic power and range of this bilingual warrior-woman, who has recorded nine albums, earning a Grammy and four Latin Grammys along the way.” (NPR Music) Performing music from her latest album, Al Chile, Downs is “a consummate performer whose three-octave vocal range shines.” (The Guardian)

Philadelphia Children’s Festival
April 28-May 1

May 2022

Afrique en Cirque
Sunday, May 1, 3 PM

Traditional African music and dance meet modern circus in this audacious and vibrant feast for the senses. Hailing from Guinea and now based in Montréal, Kalabanté makes its Philadelphia debut with Afrique en Cirque, featuring authentic dancing and astonishing acrobatic feats set to the pulsing rhythms of djembes, koras and other native West African instruments. "A kind of daredevil circus, full of astounding leaps, rolls, and drum music," Kalabanté offers high-flying, “jaw-dropping performances” (The Georgia Straight) that will amaze the whole family.

Mark Morris Dance Group

Thursday, May 5, 7:30 PM
Friday, May 6, 8 PM
Saturday, May 7, 2 PM
Saturday, May 7, 8 PM

Mark Morris, “the most successful and influential choreographer alive,” (The New York Times) celebrates the Beatles’ groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with his colorful and exuberant Pepperland. A smash hit at its Liverpool premiere, this full-length production features a score by composer Ethan Iverson that fuses iconic songs with imaginative original compositions, all performed live by a unique chamber ensemble. “As ingenious as it is entertaining,” Pepperland shines with “high-spirited humor, eccentric charm, and a joyous musical sensibility,” (The Times) making it a must-see for dance and Beatles fans alike.

June 2022


Thursday, June 2, 7:30 PM
Friday, June 3, 8 PM
Saturday, June 4, 2 PM
Saturday, June 4, 8 PM

Go down the rabbit hole with MOMIX! In the Philadelphia premiere of Alice, the wildly imaginative Moses Pendleton creates a uniquely MOMIX, fantastical Wonderland where the human body has no limits and nothing is what it appears. “Curiouser and curiouser”, the vivid imagery, vibrant costumes and awe-inspiring movement in this beloved and absurd universe are sure to have audiences floating “out on a dizzying high of pleasure.” (Chicago Tribune)