March 15, 2022

Rehearsing Philadelphia

Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University

Courtesy of Rehearsing Philadelphia.

Courtesy of Rehearsing Philadelphia.

Courtesy of Rehearsing Philadelphia.

A meta-score by Ari Benjamin Meyers.

Duet: A two-part acapella written for two strangers to perform together.
Ensemble: A module activated by 40 students from the partnering institutions split into four ensembles.
Orchestra: 50 musicians present five new works composed by local and international artists.
Solo: Five international artists create solo work to be performed in places of power.

Created by Ari Benjamin Meyers and jointly produced and presented by the Curtis Institute of Music and Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, this large-scale public project explores how we can come together as a city through musical rehearsal. The traditional musical preparation process focuses on rehearsing as a way to attain perfection, which is then repeated in performance. This is not how we live modern life in a rapidly changing world of social upheaval. Rehearsing Philadelphia re-examines the rehearsal processes which allow people to act together and be empowered to create new realities. Major support for Rehearsing Philadelphia has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Solo has previously been realized by Ari Benjamin Meyers in Hong Kong and Moscow. The Philadelphia version, created in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic explores the individual's sense of isolation and powerlessness in the face of underlying power structures in our society that visibly or invisibly determine our daily lives. Five locations in Philadelphia were selected, each representing a place of decision making, for which five international artists were asked to create a solo work to be performed by one of the location’s employees, responding to urgent questions of access to knowledge, health, security, justice and power.

Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters: A solo by Ei Arakawa.
The School District of Philadelphia Headquarters: A solo by Fred Schmidt-Arenales.
Penn Medicine: A solo by Germaine Ingram.
Community Legal Services: A solo by CA Conrad.
City Hall: A solo by Yolanda Wisher.

Duet is a work by Ari Benjamin Meyers from 2014, which he has especially adapted for Rehearsing Philadelphia to present the first citywide version in the public sphere. Singers are positioned in locations throughout the city and address passersby with the simple question: "Would you like to sing with me?" If the answer is yes, a short public rehearsal and performance ensue; if no, the passerby moves on. Duet will grow over the course of Rehearsing Philadelphia as it moves from Baltimore Avenue to Old City to the steps of the PMA for the closing weekend.

Participating choirs/singers
Philadelphia Heritage Chorale:
Director Donald Dumpson
Singing City: Director Jeffrey Brillhart
Curtis Institute of Music/ Department Vocal Studies and Curtis Opera Theatre: Senior Director of Administration and Operations Dorothy Shrade

Ensemble references Ari Benjamin Meyers’ ongoing meta-institutional project Kunsthalle for Music. This open-source version will be activated by a group of 40 students from The Curtis Institute of Music and Drexel University, split into four experimental ensembles, who come together in units similar in size to a family or quarantine pod. Under the direction of Mary Javian (Curtis) and Christopher Farrell (Drexel) the ensembles will perform over six days, seven hours a day in an exhibition of musical work. The core collection and exhibition score was created by Meyers, but this iteration is open to daily variations and reconfigurations. The location for this module will be an abandoned building in center city, providing a fitting context for these young musicians given the current atmosphere of economic crisis and uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Special guests: The Dover Quartet, Tyshawn Sorey, Zoë Keating

Rehearsing Philadelphia introduces The Public Orchestra, a newly founded orchestra that seeks to represent the cultural and sonic diversity of Philadelphia and challenge western concepts of what a symphony orchestra can be, look and sound like. Fifty musicians present five new works expressly composed for them by a group of local and international artists. These performances take the form of open public rehearsals over two evenings and an afternoon at Cherry Street Pier. The orchestra includes instrumentation and musical practices from bandoneon to oud, from DJing to French horn, from electric guitar to Korean percussion.

With new commissions by: Ann Carlson, Ari Benjamin Meyers, Sun Ra Arkestra (Marshall Allen & David Middleton), Ursula Rucker, Xenia Rubinos. Musical Director: Anthony Tidd.

Thank you!

An email with a confirmation link has been sent to the email address you entered. To complete your subscription, click this link.