The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts gets underway this Thursday, March 28th and will run through April 27th. With homebase returning to The Kimmel Center and a new theme of time travel this year, the month-long event will use performances, lectures and exihibitions to explore past moments in history including the discovery of America, the lunar landing and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Below, check out a few musical highlights that you won’t want to miss, including a selection of free concerts happening in the Kimmel Center’s “Time Travel Plaza” (where you will also find a spiraling time machine).
Last Call at the Downbeat (4/5-4/13, Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse): Learn about Philadelphia’s jazz scene in the forties with this staged retrospective of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Watch a short video about the play from show producers Jazz Bridge below.
Prima! Rufus! Judy! (4/21, Verizon Hall): Rufus Wainwright reprises Judy Garland’s return to the stage with selections from her 1961 Carnegie Hall performance. The evening will begin with excerpts from Wainwright’s own opera Prima Donna. Watch Wainwright perform “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” below.
SENDMSG (4/12, Perelman Theater): Tech-saavy musician and DJ Dan Deacon celebrates the first email, sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. Deacon has created an audience-participatory evening that will feature smartphone technology. Watch a trailer for Deacon’s free interactive app below.
Songs in the Key of Life (4/14, Verizon Hall): Robert Glasper presents a Stevie Wonder Tribute with his band and special guests, re-imagining and reflecting on the work of Wonder with new arrangements and compositions. Watch Glasper perform Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” with Derrick Hodge below.
The Arc of Curiosity (4/5, Rose Recital Hall, University of Pennsylvania): The invention of ENIAC at Penn and the computer’s subsequent influence on both electronic and instrumental music forms are explored in this multimedia concert, opened with a talk by the composers. Below, listen to John Chowning’s Stria (part II of the program).
In addition to the many featured performances throughout PIFA, there are over fifty free concerts and events happening in the Time Travel Plaza. Some highlights include:
The Hundred Acre Woods with Brooke DiCarlo (3/28, Philly Night)
Andrew Lipke with Travel Songs (4/4, Philly Night)
The Heat Run with Sharon Katz and the Peace Train (4/11, Philly Night)
Robert Drake (4/12, 80s Night)
Talain Rayne with Lucy Stone (4/18, Philly Night)
Cold Fronts with The Swinging Foxes (4/25, Philly Night)
The Fleeting Ends with WC Lindsay (4/26, The Future)
Tickets and information for all events can be found here.