ListenUp: Dance Me / Music of Leonard Cohen

Posted July 21, 2020


Last September, there was hardly a dry eye in the house as we kicked off our dance season with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s Dance Me / Music of Leonard Cohen, a riveting homage to famed poet/singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. Set to some of Cohen's most beloved songs including “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne” and “Hallelujah,” choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andonis Foniadakis and Ihsan Rustem created a stunning multidisciplinary work. Writing in The Dance Journal, Debra Danese said, “Under the artistic direction of Louis Robitaille, [Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal] strives to present work that is both high quality and accessible to audiences. Dance Me truly represented those key values with brilliant dance artists and innovative musical, light, and media design.” Grab a tissue and have a listen to Cohen’s evocative soundtrack.

5 Questions with Emmet Cohen

Posted July 20, 2020


Emmet Cohen protesting alongside Jon Batiste of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

In five questions, we aim to discover more about Annenberg Center artists, Penn faculty and others whom we find interesting. This time, we feature Harlem-based piano phenom Emmet Cohen who made his Annenberg Center debut back in 2019. Cohen blew us away with his prodigious technique, innovative sound and exuberant charm. And now, you can enjoy this rising jazz star from the comfort of your home every Monday night for his Live from Emmet’s Place series. Read on to learn more about Emmet Cohen, and join us tonight at 7:30 PM as we share his Monday night concert on our Facebook page!

1. What first got you into music?  

I first started piano lessons at three years old, and there was always a lot of music – not in my immediate family, not my parents – but on my dad’s side of the family. I think he always wanted to be a musician and it was something that he considered going into as a profession when he was a teenager in the 1960s. Out of high school, he had a recording contract with Brunswick, the same record label with the same management as Jackie Wilson. Jackie’s record came out the same time as his record and no one ever called him back again. Read more...

5 Questions with Natacha Diels

Posted July 8, 2020


We continue our new series aiming to discover more about Annenberg Center artists, Penn faculty and others whom we find interesting in just five questions. This time, we’re featuring Natacha Diels who will be joining Penn’s music department faculty this fall. A founding member of the innovative Ensemble Pamplemousse, Diels is a composer who integrates visual and sound art with touches of whimsy and irony to reflect on the human condition. Read on to learn more about Natacha Diels.

1. What themes do you pursue in your work?

I primarily consider myself a collage artist— using as source material existing concrete music/sound/video. I do this to repurpose the emotional response to the material, pay respect to others, mark history through relevant reference, and also largely because of the sheer joy of creating in this manner. Broadly, I attempt to make art that approaches life and currently, highlights its absurdity by treading the tenuous line separating profound mundanity and a nearly fantastical loss of touch with reality. Read more...

5 Questions with Tyshawn Sorey

Posted July 7, 2020


Photo by John Rogers
In this brand-new series, we’re asking five questions to discover more about Annenberg Center artists, Penn faculty and others whom we just find interesting! To kick us off, we’re highlighting Tyshawn Sorey, one of two new faculty joining Penn’s music department this fall. A 2017 MacArthur Fellow and multi-instrumentalist, Sorey is “a composer of radical and seemingly boundless ideas” (The Wall Street Journal) who defies distinctions between musical genres, composition and improvisation. Let’s learn more about this new figure at Penn.

1. How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Without getting into my issues with genre names because of their inability to accurately describe music, the music that I typically create as both a composer and performer comprises myriad styles – almost always with an experimental bent. I like to think of myself as an individual who creates music that traverses many musical/art worlds and, ultimately, expands one’s consciousness and their sense of what music can do. Put another way, I musically am free to do whatever I want to do and create whatever music I wish. I think this compositional and performative attitude cuts directly to the chase and it seems the best way to describe it. Read more...

Dr. Guthrie Ramsey’s A Spiritual Vibe, Vol. 1

Alexander Freeman  ·  Posted June 25, 2020


On the eve of Black Music Month a few weeks ago, pianist, composer and Penn Professor of Music Dr. Guthrie Ramsey sat down to talk about his new album, A Spiritual Vibe, Vol. 1, with musicology scholars from across the country including Alicia Lola Jones from Indiana University, Fredara Hadley from The Juilliard School and Mark Anthony Neal from Duke University.

In the conversation, Ramsey shared that the project features updated versions of spiritual songs that he has heard since childhood. “I wanted this [project] to sound different than the things I had been writing. That makes you feel alive as a musician – to keep experimenting with different sound worlds and not just get locked into one thing.” Ramsey goes on, “A key [to growing] is to hang around younger musicians and see what they’re up to.” Ramsey does just that. The album includes a host of talented singers and instrumentalists, including Vince Anthony, Bridget Ramsey (Ramsey’s daughter), Rod McGaha and Brendan McGeehan, as well as one of Ramsey’s students at Penn, Anna Fleming. Read more...

Live Event: So Percussion Solos

Posted June 24, 2020


We are excited to present the acclaimed new music ensemble Sō Percussion in an exclusive, livestreamed performance on July 1 at 7 PM on our Facebook page. The four members of Sō will perform a short series of back-to-back solo works live and then join Erin Busch, a doctoral fellow in music composition at Penn, for a discussion and Q&A. Audience members are encouraged to comment during the event with any questions for Sō.

In advance of its originally scheduled performance in April, Sō Percussion had been collaborating with Busch and the Penn Sound Collective, a graduate composition group, since fall 2019. The April performance would have featured world premieres by Busch, Nathan Courtright, Flannery Cunningham, James Diaz and Ania Vu, but unfortunately had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While we look forward to welcoming Sō for its Annenberg Center debut in the future, for now we are eager to gather online for an evening of mesmerizing solo percussion. See you July 1 at 7 PM on Facebook Live.  (Please note, you do not need to have a Facebook account to watch this event.) Read more...

ListenUp: Children's Festival playlist

Posted May 6, 2020


This week, listen to one of our most lively playlists yet. Every year, the excitement of our Children’s Festival goes beyond our theatres with a fun mix of popular, kid-friendly songs playing in our lobby and outdoor plaza all day. From “Can’t Stop the Feeling” to “I’m a Believer,” get on your feet and dance to some of the best songs you would have heard at this week’s event.

Penn alumnus John Legend participates in the #TogetherAtHome Concert Series

Rachel Messeck  ·  Posted April 22, 2020


As Penn’s center for the performing arts, we were so pleased to see one of our University’s most celebrated alumni, John Legend, participating in the #TogetherAtHome Concert Series. The series, organized by Global Citizen, the World Health Organization (WHO) and a growing group of artists, serves to bring joy, optimism, and a shared sense of humanity during this time of uncertainty and challenge. We certainly felt hopeful watching Legend sing a few tunes with his family close by, from a Stevie Wonder cover, to Beauty and the Beast (at his daughter’s request!), to one of his biggest hits, “All of Me.” Watch a replay of the performance below.

During his time as a student, Legend was President and Music Director of Penn’s oldest, co-ed a cappella group, Counterparts. Days before Penn announced that it was transitioning to remote classes due to COVID-19, Counterparts performed some of their material for Legend over their spring break, in what would soon be one of the group’s final performances with their graduating seniors. Our hearts go out to all of the Penn performing arts groups who had to cancel shows they had been working towards, and especially those who won’t have the opportunity to perform together again once we return to campus. Help us show Penn’s student performers some love and follow < Read more...

Emmet Cohen continues to amaze us

Posted April 21, 2020


Emmet Cohen, a recent guest at the Annenberg for his Center debut, has already become one of our favorites. After selling out our Harold Prince Theatre last spring with his trio, Emmet continues to amaze us with his innovative approach to making and sharing his music. You can experience the trio’s terrific music making at Emmet’s apartment in Harlem every Monday evening via “Live at Emmet’s Place.” We’ll post these weekly events on our calendar, so be sure to check back regularly to see the latest from this dynamic and charismatic performer. 

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