Penn Live Arts Blog / March 2023

5 Questions with Arturo O'Farrill

Posted March 28, 2023

Six-time Grammy® Award-winner Arturo O’Farrill returns to our stage April 13 with his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. A Latin jazz visionary and part of our ListenHear series highlighting influential composers of today, we connected with O’Farrill to learn more about him in just five questions. Enjoy!

1) What first got you into music?
It was expected of a firstborn Latin male to follow the family business (my father [Chico O’Farrill] was a famous Afro Cuban composer) and so I was given piano lessons. I had talent, so I was sent to the Manhattan School of Music. Read more...

Engaging our communities with the Negro Ensemble Company

Posted March 22, 2023

February’s world premiere of Mecca is Burning, our commissioned play co-produced by our 22/23 season artist-in-residence, the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), was a resounding success. Through our residency activities, over 150 students at Penn and in Philadelphia schools received special insight into the development of new theatre. NEC Artistic Director Karen Brown visited theatre arts instructor Margit Edwards’ Movement for the Actor class with NEC actor Steven Peacock Jacoby. Speaking to a room of Penn students studying everything from engineering to economics, Brown and Peacock Jacoby emphasized the meaningful place theatre could occupy in students’ lives, regardless of their career paths. Read more...

Thoughts on Martin Bresnick’s Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished

Posted March 13, 2023

If the fundamental demand of the self-portraiture artist is “Look at me,” then I ask if the same may be said of the self-portraiture composer. In a way, every piece of art is a self-portrait: a way of saying, “this is how I see the world.” But when the artist places themselves in the picture, the direction of the view has changed and the eyes of the artist are not looking, with us, at something, but are instead looking at us, the viewer. “This is how I see the world” is quite different than “This is how I want you to see me in the world.” Read more...

Bringing Beowulf into the present day with Benjamin Bagby

Posted March 7, 2023

Photo credit: Eric Sucar for Penn Today
When we contacted a group of early modernist faculty in the Penn music and English departments about a possible engagement event featuring Benjamin Bagby, whose performance of Beowulf took place on January 27, the response was immediate and enthusiastic. These faculty, including Assistant Professor of Music Mary Channen Caldwell, Assistant Professor of English Caroline Batten, and Professor of English David Wallace, were more than scholarly appreciators of Bagby’s painstaking historical investigation into the type of harp most likely to have accompanied the epic poem, or his years of touring the globe enlivening the Old English text for contemporary audiences: they were fans. Read more...