Penn Live Arts Blog

A Summer Hiatus

Posted July 6, 2021

With the unveiling of our new name and new season of events, our Penn Live Arts blog is taking a brief summer break. The months of July and August will be spent gearing up for our exciting return to live, in-person events in September.

This blog has been a wonderful way to keep in touch during the pandemic. We’ve gotten to know past and present artists through our 5 Questions series, featured numerous guest writers from the arts and Penn communities and had opportunities to spotlight some of our significant events like the Feintuch Family Lobby dedication and the kick-off of our multi-year 50th anniversary celebration with #MyAnnenbergStory. And all of this will continue right here in September when we welcome audiences back into our theatres for the 21/22 season. Read more...

Two big announcements

Posted June 29, 2021

We welcome you back to our theatres to share in the tremendous joy of live performances in our 21/22 season. It is a redefining moment for us as we begin a multi-year celebration of our 50th anniversary, announcing not only a new season but a new identity that proudly encompasses all that we offer to the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia region. This exciting new chapter honors our legacy, strengthens our connection to Penn and begins a transformative future.

Welcome back for live performance.

If there is anything the past year has reinforced, it is our passion for live performance. Simply put, it is core to our mission. We are grateful and proud to have kept artists performing live on the virtual stage, bringing you numerous world premieres and debuts as one of the few arts organizations in the city to offer real-time, digital performances. While we now have proof that we don’t need to be confined to a physical space to connect with each other and our artists, our 21/22 season is a first step on our ambitious path, as we present a wider variety of programming for a wider variety of audiences. The best artists, from iconic legends to rising stars, grace our stage with many U.S. and Philadelphia premieres. We feature beloved dance companies, jazz greats, a brand-new, family-friendly cirque series and even an innovative, site-specific work outside. Subscriptions are available now, offering up to 35% off regular pricing and great subscriber benefits, including free ticket exchanges, discounted parking, deals at local restaurants and much more. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Apr – Jun 2021

Posted June 23, 2021

World Premieres Virtual Stage Philadelphia Debuts New Music Latin Jazz Jazz Film Family Dance Penn Live Arts Debuts

Kun-Yang Lin performing The Wind in our Zellerbach Theatre, Apr 22, 2021
As our country began to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, arts lovers were eager to process feelings and emotions through music and dance performances. The final weeks of our spring season offered up just such an opportunity through a host of evocative programs. Here are some highlights.

Rennie Harris Puremovement gave us a powerful, message-driven performance, including works about police violence and the Black male experience. In its review of the performance, The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “His narrative voice is as compelling here as it is in his storied contemporary dance career with Philadanco and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.” Viewers commented that it was “mesmerizing” and “showcasing community pain.” Learn more about Philadelphia-native Harris in our 5 Questions article or this Philadelphia Tribune profile. Read more...

#MyAnnenbergStory continues to grow

Posted June 15, 2021

Dr. Mauro Calcagno shares his #MyAnnenbergStory.
“I spent a lot of time as a young patron in theaters like the one I work in now. My heart swells with nostalgia every time I watch a performer take to the stage.” And our hearts are also full as we continue to receive touching #MyAnnenbergStory submissions like this one from our Front of House Manager, Kathleen.

As you might have seen, April 8th of this year marked the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Annenberg Center. To start the multi-year celebration, we kicked off #MyAnnenbergStory as a way for us to showcase 50 years of fond memories, special occasions and unique Annenberg Center experiences. Read more...

5 Questions with Wang Lu

Posted June 9, 2021

World Premieres New Music

We are thrilled to be partnering with The Crossing for The Month of Moderns 2021, offering three outdoor music programs performed outdoors across the Philadelphia area. This annual summertime festival features numerous world and U.S. premieres, including the At which point by composer Wang Lu. Based on Forrest Gander’s raw, brutally honest poem Beckoning, the score is described by The Crossing’s conductor Donald Nally as an “ongoing, florid recitative – a musical language bursting with potential song yet intent on the concentrated delivery of words. Transparent and fragile, each phrase from one singer to another, across the rolling meadow of Awbury Arboretum.” Let’s get to know Lu in five questions!

What first got you into music?

I grew up in a musical family. I saw how much my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents enjoyed singing Chinese opera, folk songs and playing accordion together with their friends. I always associated music-making with the people I love and our community.

Read more...

ListenUp: World Music

Posted June 2, 2021

World Music Music Penn Live Arts Recommends

Angélique Kidjo
We revisit the vibrant sounds and rhythms of musicians from around the globe in our updated world music playlist. The playlist features musical gems from several Annenberg Center favorites: the queen of Afro-pop, Angélique Kidjo, Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, Zimbabwean a cappella group Nobuntu, the traditional Irish band Danú, and the electrifying Mexican-American singer Lila Downs.

The Month of Moderns 2021

Posted May 25, 2021

World Premieres U.S. Premiere New Music

The Crossing is grateful to be presented by Annenberg Center, our frequent partner.

Entering our second summer of a global pandemic, it could be easy to feel things are quickly returning to “normal,” due to the amazing efficiency of scientists, a surprisingly responsible government (we’d come to expect the opposite), and vigilance on the part of our singers. Yet, the wounds are deep, and the virus lingers nearby, worse than ever in parts of the world that are not able to invest the extraordinary resources available to us in the United States.

I say this because our festival this summer - while being a full Month of Moderns, with three different programs in three weeks – is anything but “normal.” Entirely outside, designed for distance and safety during the pandemic, and capturing this moment in time – a moment when we are confused in balancing hope and caution, fear and defiance, all couched in humility. So, the works we sing this summer address these emotions head on, and that makes me more excited than ever for a Month of Moderns because not only will we be together, but we’ll be mining every bit of what we’ve been through. Read more...

5 Questions with Matthew Neenan

Posted May 19, 2021

World Premieres Dance

A former principal dancer and Choreographer in Residence at Pennsylvania Ballet as well as the co-founder of Philadelphia’s beloved BalletX, Matthew Neenan has been called “fresh, touching, musical, original” with choreography that makes “dancers look vulnerable, openhearted and, above all, marvelously free.” (The New York Times) We can’t wait for Neenan to come to the Annenberg Center to explore intimacy in isolation in a site-specific world premiere on May 27. But first, let’s get to know more about him through just five questions. Enjoy!

What first got you into dance?
I was the stereotypical story for a young boy. My two older sisters danced at Boston Ballet School, therefore I was dragged to their ballet class almost every afternoon. I did not mind though, I was obsessed. I loved it so much and couldn’t wait to start classes once I was old enough. Read more...

Behind the Lens

Posted May 11, 2021

Did you know that our Bruce Montgomery Theatre was originally designed for film screening? Or that the Harold Prince Theatre, which is now our popular black box theatre space, was built as a TV studio? Film and media has a long history here at the Annenberg Center, and we are proud to be part of a University with a dynamic cinema and media studies program, not to mention many well-established alumni who have succeeded in the film industry!

If you have ever been curious to know more about what it was like for film students during the pandemic, we are pleased to share Sunday Night at the Movies: Behind the Lens with Penn Student Film Festival Winners. Featuring the top three student winners, Penn Cinema and Media Studies faculty members and alumni who worked on projects ranging from TV’s Reading Rainbow to films like Cruel Intentions, The Fast and The Furious and 13 Going on 30, it is a lively discussion of filmmaking during unusual times.



Checking in on #MyAnnenbergStory

Posted May 4, 2021

On April 8th, the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Annenberg Center, we kicked off #MyAnnenbergStory, a multi-year celebration of 50 years of innovative artists and performances, our diverse, loyal audiences, and our Penn and greater Philadelphia community. We asked you to share what you love or remember about the Annenberg Center and we have greatly enjoyed seeing everything you’ve sent our way.

Chaz fondly remembers his time singing on our stage with Penn student a cappella group The Inspiration, while avid dance fan Linda is still amazed to have seen Twyla Tharp sitting three rows back, taking in her own company’s performance. Michael Novak, Artistic Director of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, remarked that since the company’s debut on our stage in 1984, Philadelphia audiences have experienced 35 beloved Taylor works, including two world premieres. Pamela feels like part of the family here, having sought the comfort of live music in difficult times and always leaving with smiles of joy. PHILADANCO’s esteemed founder, Joan Myers Brown shared of the company’s long history here and the pleasure of our continued partnership. Read more...

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