March 5, 2015

"Philadelphia Freedom..."

One of the greatest parts of living in Baltimore is - believe it or not - working in other cities!    NO, I do not say that with any lack of love for my friends and colleagues here, but I have been quite fortunate since being here in that I have had the opportunity to play in and meet people playing in ensembles based both in Washington DC and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a very special place:   for me, this sense of wonder first came in 2012 when, upon stepping off of an Amtrak train, I felt a tremendous feeling of psychic freedom.    That trip was one during which I was playing with the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, a trailblazing group started by Jeri Lynne Johnson.    Since its founding in 2008, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra has firmly established itself in Philadelphia and the region as a true artistic force in addition to having been recognized nationally as an ensemble that both reflects the true diversity of its community while also serving its community in truly innovative and meaningful ways.

It was through performing with the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra that I met Vena Johnson and Jennifer Boorum, and as I type this I remember December 2013 when, after having gone to Philadelphia for a rehearsal, the opportunity to speak quite deeply about social justice issues with Jennifer that I found out about Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble in residence at the historic and stunning Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.   

Needless to say, it was so pleasing to have an opportunity to write about Prometheus last year, and to gain knowledge of their mission to change the way audiences experience orchestra concerts, the relationship of the orchestra to the community, and the way musicians perceive concert programming and artistic responsibility.   How interesting, therefore, that the year 2014 also included Black Pearl's performance of Beethoven #9 at the Dell Music Center in a concert that furthered its mission of embracing community through featuring a host of amateur musicians playing alongside members of the orchestra.

In recent days, much good news has come out of Philadelphia about both ensembles, and I invite you to read both about Prometheus Chamber Orchestra's recent receipt of a grant from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and how, with Jeri Lynne Johnson and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, destinies seem to be beautiful created.  

More soon, 

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