Spotlight on composer James Primosch, Professor of Music at Penn
At the top of May, acclaimed composer and Penn Professor of Music James Primosch wrote on his blog
, “Sometimes not much is happening, but suddenly when things do happen they come in clumps. I’ve seen it with performances that cluster together, with empty weeks before and after. And now I have two CDs coming out a week apart.” How fortunate for music-lovers: proverbial May flowers in the form of magnificent music.
The album Descent/Return features piano and vocal works by Primosch and John Harbison, Primosch’s teacher, mentor and friend. Primosch studied composition with Harbison in the summer of 1984 during his Tanglewood Fellowship. Read more...
ListenUp: Zeitgeist Playlist
New Music ListenUp
In October 2019, joined by Bowerbird
and Penn’s Department of Music
, we presented Zeitgeist: George Crumb at 90, a three-concert festival that celebrated more than seventy years of music by Grammy® and Pulitzer Prize®-winning composer George Crumb. Crumb is one of the most frequently performed composers today. His music often juxtaposes contrasting musical styles, ranging from the western art-music tradition, to hymns and folk, to non-Western music. Many of his works include programmatic, symbolic, mystical and theatrical elements, which are often reflected in his beautiful and meticulously notated scores. Crumb retired from Penn in 1997 after more than 30 years of teaching. He was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from Penn in May 2009. This week’s playlist celebrates the music performed during Zeitgeist including Apparition
, Book I-IV
and the Vietnam War-haunted Black Angels
, in addition to a selection of Crumb’s early compositions. Listen in to this sweeping retrospective of the work of this essential American composer.
The Crossing's new album CARTHAGE features music by James Primosch
New Music Penn Live Arts Recommends
The Crossing @ Christmas at the Church of the Holy Trinity
Photo by Ryan Collerd
We were thrilled to partner with The Crossing
this season as our choir-in-residence, and deeply disappointed when their residency was cut short due to COVID-19. We presented The Crossing @ Christmas in December, followed by the unforgettable Knee Plays in February as part of our three-week #GLASSFEST
honoring Philip Glass
. We then closed our doors just days before the choir’s final residency performance of the season, the world premiere of Michael Gordon
’s Travel Guide to Nicaragua
with cellist Maya Beiser
. While we had hoped to reschedule the performance, we ultimately had to cancel it as the pandemic continued to unfold.
Nevertheless, The Crossing, like many performing ensembles, has carried on in the virtual landscape. Every morning since March 16, Rising with The Crossing has provided us with daily selections from the choir’s best performances and recordings. Read more...
ListenUp: New Music Playlist
ListenUp New Music
We ring in this week’s playlist with the sound of bells. Sō Percussion
, slated to make their Annenberg Center debut this past April, has been rescheduled for October, when they’ll perform the world premieres of works by graduate students in composition from Penn’s Department of Music
. Here, we feature the ensemble’s recordings of music by Steve Reich
, Paul Lansky
, and Glenn Kotche
. Next up on the playlist is a sampling of The Crossing
’s gorgeous recording of Robert Convery
, which is set to Hart Crane’s early 20th-century poem of the same name. Although The Crossing’s residency at the Annenberg Center this year was cut short, we can’t wait to bring them back in future seasons. We round out our new music playlist by revisiting two solo piano works we heard at Jenny Lin
’s Glass Reflections recital at the Penn Museum
this past March: Philip Glass
’ hypnotic Etude No. 2 and György Ligeti’s intricate first étude, Désordre
Penn generations join forces in harmony as part of Israel's worldwide Independence Day celebration
As a hub for the arts at the University of Pennsylvania, we are always on the lookout for current Penn students and alumni in the limelight. We found both in a streaming performance of the 2020 Worldwide Celebration of Israel’s Independence Day. Composer, songwriter, singer and 1995 Penn graduate Gabriel Mann
scored a new arrangement of “Ahavat Olam
” for the celebration, which was performed by the Platt brothers—who also have roots at Penn. If you missed the live stream, treat yourself to the three-minute performance above. Read more...
Dig into Penn Museum At Home with the whole family
Our buildings might be empty right now but our University cultural partners join us in keeping the lights on virtually. This week we salute the Penn Museum
. While their entire website is a treasure trove of offerings for all visitors, here we focus on two family-friendly categories within the Penn Museum At Home
section. At-Home Anthropology for Kids
invites learners of all ages to create legendary creatures or Roman mosaics, design a personal museum or learn how to mummify fruits and vegetables. Each week the Museum adds new projects so children and their grown-ups can add some fun, new projects to their weekly mix. Older children and teenagers might want to check out the Digital Daily Dig
, a three-minute video posted on the Museum’s Facebook page
at 1 PM each weekday, with a substantial archive available on the Museum’s website
. Billed as “One artifact. Three minutes. Endless insights.” this quick and clever feature brings to life Etruscan sandals, Roman ketchup, Foo Lions and many other fascinating objects within the Museum’s collection.
Artists lead a national conversation in the Abbey Theatre's Dear Ireland video series
Theatre Penn Live Arts Recommends
The Abbey Theatre's Two Pints sold out the Blarney Stone last season.
Dublin’s historic Abbey Theatre
is an Annenberg Center favorite that we have welcomed to our stages on multiple occasions. Most recently we presented the sold-out Philadelphia premiere of the Abbey’s hilarious Two Pints
at our local pub, the Blarney Stone. Now, in spite of theatre closures and cancelled performances across the globe, the Abbey stands fast by its mission to tell the Irish story through art with its candid new video series, Dear Ireland
The Abbey is widely recognized for its transformative artistry, creating works that are provocative and reflect many different facets of Irish society. Dear Ireland was created with the Irish theatre arts community in mind, employing 50 Irish playwrights to each write a monologue and then nominate an actor to video-record it at home in social isolation. Read more...
Danú vocalist Nell Ní Chroinin keeps our fond memories of live performing arts going strong
World Music Penn Live Arts Recommends
With only a handful of days left in May, it has now been about 10 weeks since we had to close our doors for the rest of the season. Before COVID-19, we were looking forward to announcing our 20/21 season in April and then finishing out the spring semester with a vibrant series of diverse, exciting performances. The annual joy of closing out one great season to then start another one feels like a distant memory now.
But it is times like this when we need artistic expression the most. Read more...
From Penn Today: Celebrated Penn alumnus John Legend surprises the Class of 2020 at the University’s virtual Commencement ceremony
Penn live-streamed its “first” 264th Commencement (an on-campus ceremony will be held for the Class of 2020 in May 2021) for graduates and their families across the city, nation and world. The celebration concluded with a stunning performance by graduating students in Penn’s A Cappella Council
, and featured a special surprise guest: EGOT winner John Legend
, C'99. Legend played piano while singing the iconic “The Red and Blue.” No doubt graduates will remember the performance, and the unprecedented occasion, for the rest of their lives.
Read the full story on Penn Today.
Spotlight on Priscilla Felten, Wharton '20
Photo courtesy of Priscilla Felten
The universe of performing arts is going to need talented and committed people like Priscilla Felten, W’20, when it emerges from the pandemic.
With a degree from the Wharton School and years of hands-on experience as both performer and highly-motivated intern, Felten will be uniquely positioned to figure out new ways for the entertainment industry to carry on when we return to the “new normal.” “There are a lot of open questions,” she says. “How can it be cost-effective for those that must sell a lot of tickets to survive? Will people even want to go into theaters or will they prefer to consume entertainment and culture from home? Will there be a hybrid of live performances and online streaming? How will artists stay safe onstage and off? How might policies and contracts change?” Read more...
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