No. 18 • 2020-09-23

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Fall Forward

The Philly weather leaves no doubt: Fall is here, and with it comes a non-stop stream of events, festivals, classes, and more. Next week we continue our online mini-series with Play On PhillyCreative Conversations for a Changing World, focusing on how arts and education are innovating through the pandemic. We’re joined by leaders of premier organizations who are actively exploring new ways of performing, learning, and sharing in the era of social distancing. At our kickoff event last week, we had a great conversation with David Devan (Opera Philadelphia), Valerie Gay (Barnes Foundation), and Melissa Talley-Palmer (Bartol Foundation). Each is pursuing and supporting new forms, venues, and media for producing creative work.

Our next Conversation focuses on Collaboration, with another amazing group. Each panelist is both an innovative musician and educator:

  • Jay Fluellen is Philly-born musician and composer and is Choir Co-Director & Music Technology Specialist at Northeast High School. Collaboration has been a hallmark of his work as composer, musician and educator, having worked on large scale projects with many Philadelphia area arts organizations, including LiveConnections, The Mann Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, The Bucks County Choral Society, Art Sanctuary, and the Philly Pops, among others.
  • Paul Smith is an innovative and creative performer, conductor, composer, and educator and co-founder of the award-winning vocal group, VOCES8. This August, he launched Live from London, an online streaming festival with some of the world’s finest vocal ensembles: VOCES8, The Swingles, The Gesualdo Six, Apollo5, and Chanticleer (from San Francisco). Paul is also serves as CEO of the VOCES8 Foundation. Since its inception in 2007, the Foundation has worked with 400,000 young people.

I am really looking forward to this conversation, which touches upon “all the things” I love (well, many of the things): music, ensemble singing, collaboration, and technology. We’ll highlight some amazing virtual projects and some truly novel ways musicians at all levels are finding to keep making music together.

Register here for the next event on September 29 at 4pm and mark your calendars for our third Creative Conversation on October 13. We planned a mini-series of 3 events, but we could be convinced to change our minds if there’s demand! 😉

(Socially) Distant Creations

What I’m creating

This term, I am teaching ECE-101: Electrical & Computer Engineering in the Real World, a weekly seminar featuring distinguished guest speakers on applied topics related to our field, primarily for our 100+ first-year students. The first class is today (9/23 at 2pm… I’m the first speaker), and everyone is welcome to tune in.

Our next speaker (9/30 at 2pm) is Ophelia Wells (pictured), an engineer at Merck Research Laboratories in Device Development who’ll be speaking about Engineering Vaccines at Pandemic SpeedRegister here for next week’s class!

No. 3 • 2020-05-20

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#OperaOnTheCouch

Despite the current crisis, there’s never been more cultural content available online. We are fortunate to have in our city one of the most innovative opera companies in the world, who have added a unique offering this month.

In 2017, Opera Philadelphia launched the O Festival, exploring the present & future of opera with a focus on producing and premiering new works relevant for our times. The festival has explored a range of venues throughout the city, from the traditional opera house (Academy of Music) to in-place performances at the Philadelphia Museum of Art & the Barnes Foundation. Now the list includes your home.

Digital Festival O offers free streams of five productions, including four world premieres:

  • The groundbreaking Denis & Katya, a “social media opera” and one of the most innovative and thought-provoking works I’ve seen in recent years.
  • We Shall Not Be Moved, a profound work examining Philadelphia’s troubled history of community relations and education.
  • Sky on Swings, by composer (and friend of ExCITe) Lembit Beecher, premieres this week. It’s a poignant and moving view of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, featuring the legendary Frederica von Stade.
  • The award-winning and highly provocative Breaking the Waves by composer Missy Mazzoli (based on the Lars von Trier film) premieres on May 29.

Most will remain available for streaming through August. I encourage you to experience these productions, while you can!

(Socially) Distant Creations

  • Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Virtual Showcase [Springside Chestnut Hill Academy] Check out more than 40 amazing proto ventures by high school students (seriously, it will make you feel better about our future). Then vote for your favorite by Fri at 5pm!
  • Bridging the Distance [World Cafe Live] Online music education resources, particularly for young people, from their Bridge Sessions program. Also check out the online Free at 1pm weekly live streams from guitarist and vocalist David Falcone every Friday!
  • Julius [Princeton Footnotes] Just an awesome a cappella rendition of this song, originally by Phish, put together by some college students up the road.
  • Artists Didn’t Wait… [Knight Foundation] A nice collection of digital projects and initiatives from arts and culture organizations around the country.
  • Remote recording music for Star Trek [TrekMovie.com] A story and interview about how post-production of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 is being done remotely, including recording the musical score.

What I’m creating

Can’t let another Hamilton reference pass… especially this week, when it was announced that the 2016 performance of the OG Broadway cast will be available for streaming on Disney+ in July!

So, here’s a couple of Hamilton-themed videos I made in the early days of social distancing to share with friends. Mark your calendars for an online watch party on July 3!

  You’ll Be Back       Dear Theodosia