So. PIFA, the Philadelphia International Festival of Arts, is now in full swing and the Kimmel Center, its beating heart, proudly features a “time machine.” Yes, two years ago we celebrated Paris and now we embark on the heady task of time traveling: “PIFA asks audiences ‘If you had a time machine…’” The guide’s introduction says: “This journey takes us from the Big Bang to the invention of casual Fridays, and from a family-friendly puppet show in 1876 to the landing of Columbus in 1492, as the artists feverishly work together across time and space, crossing and blending a variety of styles to reflect PIFA’s core values of collaboration, innovation, and creativity.”
Alright, maintaining a positive attitude, we say this is cool. It’s cool that there’s loads of free programming, it’s cool that our city endeavors a month-long festival of arts that attracts artists of every medium to our city, and it’s cool that unique programming is created specifically for this festival.
But, uh, time travel? Could be cool. We love Back to the Future. But if we’re being real, like we do, some of these things are just so weird. When pushed and constricted by a theme, seems like some whacky stuff came about. Some stuff gets really specific, creating art based on a date in time. While other events stretch over hundreds of years of history.
Here are seven musical moments we’ve got our eyes on:
1. Last Call at the Downbeat (Jazz Bridge): “In November, 1942, 25-year-old trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is in Philadelphia leading his own quartet at the Downbeat Club. He’s just been fired by big bandleader Lucky Millinder after a stint at the famed Earle Theatre at 11th and Market Streets – right around the corner. It’s war time, and big band swing is all the rage, but Gillespie has been experimenting a bit with a new approach to music. Something most people don’t even know about yet, something called bebop… he’s anxious to play you a little and tell you a lot about Philadelphia jazz – back in the day.”
April 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th at 8pm. $25. Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse, 300 S Broad Street.
2. Bond and Beyond (Peter Nero and the Philly Pops): “Agent 007 has the suave sophistication needed to thwart the evil plans of Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Mr. Big – and so des his musical motif. Relive the thrill and adventure as The POPS, led by Michael Krajewski, play the iconic music of James Bond and other themes of espionage. Audience favorite Debbie Gravitte lends her sultry soprano to these tantalizing tunes for an evening you won’t want to miss. After all, you only live twice!”
April 26th-28th. $30-$114. April 26th, 8pm, April 27th & 28th, 3pm. Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad Street.
3. The Children’s March (Singing City and the SC Children’s Choir): “May 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama – a major catalyst for bringing about the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The newly commissioned work by Philadelphia composer Andrew Bleckner and acclaimed Philadelphia storyteller and narrator Charlotte Blake Alston features Singing City and the Singing City Children’s Choir, and tells the story of one moment that changed the course of civil rights in America. The concert will be followed by a conversation with the artists.”
April 26th, 8pm. $20-$30. Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street.
4. Casual Friday (Stone Depot Dance Lab): “Stone Depot’s Casual Friday begins with a Happy Hour in the Ruba Club’s inviting lounge, sponsored by Philadelphia Brewing Company, and continues on a wild ride through an unorthodox history: a performance for anyone who has braved the work force, navigated the social strictures of bosses and co-workers, or simply needs a Casual Friday for any reason.”
April 12th and 19th, 6:30pm & 8:30pm. $15. Ruba Club Lounge, 414 Green Street.
5. Aquarian Exposition: A Trip Back to the Original Woodstock (Sharp Dance Company): “Join us for a night dedicated to the unique and controversial decades of the 60’s and ’70s. Aquarian Exposition: A trip back to the Original Woodstock taps into the spirit of love, acceptance and exploration that made the hippie movement one that will transcend time. Enjoy some of the most prolific music in history performed as dancers embody the groovy sixties through new and original choreography set by Diane Sharp-Nachsin. Audience members will feel like part of the performance… including a contest for the best dressed audience member in hippie gear! Don’t miss this beautiful homage to Woodstock.”
April 12th-21st, April 12, 13, 19, 20, 8pm, April 14 and 21, 7pm. $20. The Box, 2628 Martha Street.
6. SENDMSG (Dan Deacon): “Internet Hall of Fame inductee Ray Tomlinson sent the first email from one computer to another in 1971. For the past forty years the evolution of his contribution has grown to see over 3 billion email accounts in existence today and the generation of new social communication technology. Enter instrumentalist, composer and DJ Dan Deacon, who uses this moment as a springboard to creat an evening where the audience is as much a part of the performance as he is. Using smartphone technology, Deacon and the audience will creat a shared musical experience to open and close an evening filled with a unique show not to be missed.”
April 12th, 8:30pm. $15. Perelman Theater, 300 S Broad Street.
7. Songs in the Key of Life: Robert Glasper Presents a Stevie Wonder Tribute: “Firmly planted in the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B, Grammy-nominated Robert Glasper bring together an all-star cast featuring the Experiment Band (Derrick Hodge, Mark Colenburg and Casey Benjamin), Lalah Hathaway, Stokley Williams, and Eric Roberson, dedicated to Stevie Wonder’s timeless body of work. This performance, commissioned by Harlem Stage, includes new arrangements and new compositions written by Glasper, inspired by Stevie Wonder.
April 14th, 8pm. $25-42.50. Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad Street.