Chopin Without Piano premieres at Swarthmore College next week

Chopin Without Piano
Chopin Without Piano | photo by Natalia Kabanow via The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

A new orchestral / theatrical production called Chopin Without Piano will have its local premiere at Swarthmore College on October 24th, followed by a handful of performances at FringeArts in Old City. The show pairs Polish actor Barbara Wysocka with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia for a new take on Frederyk Chopin’s piano concertos.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Union Transfer, The Thing at FringeArts

Godspeed You! Black Emperor | Photo by Eva Vermandel | via Constellation Records
Godspeed You! Black Emperor | Photo by Eva Vermandel | via Constellation Records

Instrumental rock icons Godspeed You! Black Emperor bring their always-thrilling audiovisual spectacle to Union Transfer tonight. The band released its fifth album, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, back in March via Constellation Records. The four-track LP is the band’s shortest release, clocking in at 40 minutes, but it has a gripping energy to it, a punch that was always present in the band’s performances but maybe not in its albums – which tend to be more dynamic and atmospheric. Check out “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!” below and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ruby The Hatchet at Union Transfer, Chris Forsyth at FringeArts, Emmylou Harris at Keswick Theatre and more

Ruby The Hatchet via
Ruby The Hatchet via

Psychedelic rock quintet Ruby The Hatchet will be getting nice and weird tonight at Union Transfer in support of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats at 7 p.m. The show will features tracks off the Philly-based band’s album Valley of the Snake which came out back in February. Check out the XPN Concert Calendar for more information. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cruisr at TLA, No Good Sister at Tin Angel, Spank Rock / McRad at FringeArts and more

Cruisr | photo by Chris Sembrot

Summery vibes will fill the TLA tonight courtesy of the indie-pop band Cruisr. The band will be joined by Cheerleader, Cold Fronts and Verite, all of whom hail from Philadelphia but play a distinctively sunny-California style that will have you holding on to summer for dear life. Click here for more information on tonight’s show. Continue reading →


A tribute to Sun Ra, curated by King Britt and Kate Watson-Wallace featuring Vernon Reid and Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces

A tribute to the jazz musician Sun Ra curated by King Britt and choreographer/visual artist Kate Watson-Wallace will take place at Fringe Arts on Friday, June 6. The event is a live improvisational “re-contextualization” of Sun Ra’s music featuring Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces on percussion, Vernon Reid of Living Color on guitar, King Britt on beats and electronics, Anthony Tidd on bass, vocalist Imani Izuri, and Marlo Reynolds on keyboards. Live video will be provided by Jason Senk and “movement” by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko of Philadiction Movement. The event, says King Britt, is the first of several that “music/multidimensional events” that the Fringe is presenting in its new space.

The jazz musician, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, relocated to the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1968 where he resided until his death in 1993. King Britt came up with the idea of a tribute to Sun Ra since it was close to Sun Ra’s birthday. “I suggested we do a tribute to him by creating a beautiful ensemble of music, video and dance,” Britt told me in an e-mail. “Everyone involved has been touched by Ra and his legacy. Sun Ra always embraced the art of improvisation within a construct of his compositions. He also embraced technology and used it in a way that propelled the music to new places.”

“We felt that everyone involved would be comfortable in this context and non obvious samples and loops, from some of Sun Ra’s improvs, will steer the direction of the journey,” said Britt. “Everyone involved, including video, which will be mixed live, are all very good improvisors and it will be a one time only experience. This is event is important because it will bridge the gap between generations. A lot of the older Sun Ra fans will love to witness a new spin on his legacy and the young fans who have come to know Sonny, through samples, hip hop and alternative music, will get to learn a bit of the history through multidisciplinary lenses.”

Go here for tickets and more information about the show. Below, check out a documentary about Sun Ra by film maker Robert Mugge, A Joyful Noise.


30 Days of Philly Arts: A preview of the 2013 FringeArts Festival

Screen shot 2013-09-04 at 9.38.25 AMIt’s not every day you can see a 16-hour musical based on a telephone conversation or Norwegian actors emoting in fake Chinese or Yale trained musicians playing a desk. If you like your theater with an edge, if you prize innovation in dance and music, if you enjoy the unexpected onstage or at an out-of-the ordinary performance site, then FringeArts is for you.

This year is the 17th annual Philadelphia Live Arts/PhillyFringe Festival (now simply called FringeArts). This year’s fest runs now through September 22nd at venues around Philadelphia, including site specific works at Eastern State Penitentiary and the Free LIbrary. Shows from eight countries were chosen by FringeArts cofounder, president and producing director Nick Stuccio and there are scores of works presented by mainly local artists themselves.

There are new works from some returning favorites, like Philadelphia choreographer Brian Sanders, whose innovative shows feature awe inspiring, athletic dancer/aerialists, with a world premiere based on nursery rhymes called Hush Now Sweet High Heels and Oak. Also returning is Geoff Sobelle with another world premiere The Object Lesson. Geoff is a consummate actor who has explored the history of comedy and surgery (separate shows!) in past festivals and this time around he takes on our love of stuff.

Music figures importantly in almost all shows and there are some that are music centric, like So Percussion’s use of household furnishings as musical instruments, Jonatha Brooke’s new one-woman show called My Mother Has Four Noses, and 1 Hit Wonder, an interactive sketch comedy about the music industry.

It’s difficult to summarize the wonders of the FringeArts Festival, there’s so much happening, some 150 shows in all!  In addition to performance there’s visual art and a tasty benefit for FringeArts called Feastival on September 12.

There’s big news ahead, too…starting after the festival this year, Philadelphia will have a permanent home for year round fringe performance at the renovated 1903 city pump house on Columbus Boulevard, the new FringeArts headquarters, which will house a restaurant, bar, and theater.  We’ll be able to see acts from around the world that previously had no place to perform if they were touring before or after the festival.

A list of shows, performances, and ticket info can be found here. Below, listen to a festival preview from the XPN Morning Show with FringeArts President and Producing Director Nick Stuccio.