Tiny Desk Concerts by Annenberg Center Artists
Posted August 31, 2020
Esperanza Spalding's 2010 Tiny Desk concert
Since 2008, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts
has presented over 800 performances. The online concert series, perhaps the most popular of its kind in the world, features different artists from every musical genre in intimate, in-studio performances lasting about 15-20 minutes. There’s only one main rule for the artists to follow: All equipment, instruments and people must fit behind the desk. The famed desk space, reminiscent of a quirky, jam-packed office cubicle, has hosted many Annenberg Center artists over the years. Here are a few of our recent favorites! 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...
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...
Join us tomorrow on YouTube Live for pianist Jenny Lin
Posted May 27, 2020
With our launch of Annenberg Center @ Home, this spring has been a season of new beginnings. Tomorrow evening at 7 PM, we take another new step into the world of livestreamed events.
In March, we presented pianist and Steinway artist Jenny Lin at the Penn Museum. Little did we know at the time that it would be our final performance for the season, not to mention the conclusion of Lin’s own spring concert schedule. With this in mind, we invited Lin back for our first-ever livestreamed event, a watch party and live discussion with Christopher Gruits, our Executive & Artistic Director. Read more...
ListenUp: Zeitgeist Playlist
Posted May 27, 2020
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
Madeline Bell · Posted May 26, 2020
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
Posted May 21, 2020
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
Watch Einstein on the Beach through Apr 19
Posted April 16, 2020
We can’t get enough Philip Glass these days following our memorable #GLASSFEST this past winter. Through April 19, the Grand Théâtre de Genève has provided free viewing access to its full-length production of Einstein on the Beach. Glass and Robert Wilson's groundbreaking opera "has no narration, no plot and follows no biographical intention" (Broadway World), yet draws the viewer in with its poetic, signature Glass progression through time. Co-produced and performed by Swiss theatre group Compagnia Finzi Pasca, Einstein on the Beach opened the Grand Théâtre's 19/20 season.
ListenUp: #GLASSFEST Playlist
Posted April 16, 2020
During the 19/20 season, the Annenberg Center presented #GLASSFEST, a celebration of the career and impact of Philip Glass, one of our nation’s most significant modern composers. Our debut ListenUp playlist, curated by Executive and Artistic Director Christopher Gruits, contains the works performed during the three-week festival including those composed by Glass and those performed in juxtaposition with Glass’ works.