Press Release

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Announces 2011 Philadelphia Music Project Grant Recipients

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Philadelphia, PA- The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has awarded $664,500 through the Philadelphia Music Project (PMP) to 10 local music organizations. This year's funded projects build bridges between centuries and continents, celebrating well-known traditions and forms of music rarely heard in the Philadelphia region. Over the next two seasons, American composers will create new works inspired and informed by religious songs of generations past; the Rodin Museum will commission and host world premieres by two groundbreaking innovators in contemporary classical music; an award-winning jazz legend will compose a new work for an emerging orchestra; and the region will be introduced to internationally renowned practitioners of North and South Indian classical music over the course of a lively three-day summer festival.

The projects supported by this year's PMP grants make up a manifold array of musical genres and cultural traditions. Along with world premieres of commissioned music and Philadelphia-area debuts from musicians and performers around the globe, these programs signify the region's ongoing contribution to the field, and will attract and engage numerous area audiences from a diversity of backgrounds and communities.

“This year's projects feature exceptionally talented artists in programs that push the bounds of performance and curatorial practice,” says PMP director Matt Levy. “Projects include an extraordinary range of ancillary programs, from symposia and composer forums to master classes and school outreach, all designed to engage audiences and deepen their understanding and appreciation of music.”

Astral Artists will present newly commissioned works by three widely honored African-American composers in Spiritual Voyages, a concert event that embraces the lasting influence of spirituals—the  historic religious songs of enslaved Africans in the U.S. and their descendants. Alvin Singleton, David Sanford, and Evelyn Curenton will each create new works that explore their individual relationships to spirituals and suit the skills of Astral's resident musicians. Spiritual Voyages will be a highlight of Astral Artists' 20th anniversary season, featuring Philadelphia-born mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson, and choral groups the Richard Allen Singers, the Lloyd Mallory Singers, and the Clayton White Singers, interwoven with literary work by poet, social activist and Pew Fellow Sonia Sanchez.

French composers Tristan Murail and Philippe Hurel will compose works to be premiered over successive weekends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's (PMA) Rodin Museum. Murail and Hurel are innovators in the field of spectral music, a modern compositional practice inspired by the scientific analysis of sound waves. They will take inspiration from the influential work of Auguste Rodin, who is considered to be the forefather of modern sculpture, and is famous for his iconic statues such as The Kiss and The Thinker. New York-based Argento Chamber Ensemble, regular collaborators of Murail and Hurel, will perform these exploratory compositions and past works from the composers at the newly renovated Rodin Museum, with an additional preview concert at the PMA's Art After 5 concert series. Concerts in both locations promise to attract both current and new audiences for the museum.

Sruti, the India Music and Dance Society, now in its 25th year, will bring master practitioners of Indian classical music to Philadelphia for the first time, to perform during a 2011 Labor Day weekend festival. Two concerts will demonstrate and explore the convergence of Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian) classical music, and will be preceded by workshops around the city, for classical music students as well as mainstream audiences, that provide context for the appreciation of this music. Participating musicians include Amjad Ali Khan, a master of the lute-like sarod, and his two sons, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan; the celebrated Malladi Brothers and Gundecha Brothers, who sing Carnatic and Hindustani styles, respectively, will perform in a Jugalbandi concert—an animated duet. This blend of Northern and Southern traditions is rarely heard in the Philadelphia region, making this concert a special event for local Indian music audiences of all kinds.

Elder statesman of jazz Muhal Richard Abrams will compose and conduct SoundPath, a new work to be performed by 16-member jazz orchestra Warriors of the Wonderful Sound. A recipient of the 2010 NEA Jazz Master Award and the co-founder of Chicago's legendary jazz organization, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Abrams is considered a “mentor of mentors” whose imagination and experience have the potential to challenge the young orchestra's conceptions of composition and improvisation, and to encourage artistic growth. A public symposium and workshops for local musicians that explore Abrams' creative life and ideas will introduce the teachings of this rarely seen master composer to a broader audience in the area.

For the complete list of 2011 Philadelphia Music Project grant recipients and full project descriptions, please see the attached list or visit www.pcah.us/music.

Philadelphia Music Project proposals are evaluated through a competitive process by a panel of internationally recognized artists, scholars, and music presenters with a broad collective range of knowledge in the field. In addition, a group of artistic advisors, specialists in various genres and periods of music, provided supplemental reports. For a full list of panelists, advisors, and their respective credentials, please visit www.pcah.us/music.

The Philadelphia Music Project has funded a total of 307 project grants since its inception in 1989. These awards represent an investment of over $15.5 million in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region's nonprofit music community.

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Nicole Steinberg

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