Philadelphia Music Project Awards $794,000 in Grants



The Pottstown Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Landis and Co. Theatre of Magic

The Philadelphia Music Project has awarded 18 grants totaling $794,000 this year to support area music projects. The awards range from $5,000 to $80,000 and seek to “engender excellence in performance, creativity in programming and provide recipients with the means to elevate their artistic level” regardless of genre. The program is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the Settlement Music School. To date, the PMP has underwritten 130 projects totaling $5,259,650 in grant dollars since 1989.

PMP Director Matthew Levy says he was most struck by the degree of diversity among the applications. This year, “almost all genres of music are represented, in a way that’s balanced and proportional to their degree of presence in the community,” he explains. “I think it really reflects the vitality of Philadelphia as a music center.”

The grant applications are evaluated on three fronts: artistic excellence (the qualifications of the participating artists, evidence of artistic expansion on the part of the organization, and the degree to which the project is programmatically innovative), the impact of the project on the performing organization as well as on the community, and the perceived ability of the organization to implement the project based on budgetary and logistical considerations. When proposals are evaluated, the organization’s mission statement is carefully considered, Levy says, allowing for “a great deal of integrity and fairness in terms of looking at the kinds of projects that artistically stretch organizations in the contexts of what their mission and goals are.”



Relâche will use the grant to commission and perform five new pieces

The pool of applications is drawn annually from the greater Philadelphia area. In this round, five of the awards went to first-time recipients of PMP grants. The program provides funding in the full amount requested by the organization so that the proposed project can be realized as originally conceived.

According to the PMP, this year’s awards will support 224 events including the commissioning and performance of seven new works; world premieres of an additional four works; forty radio broadcasts; sixty-five residency/educational activities; one recording; and over one hundred performances encompassing ten chamber music, forty orchestra, six choral, ten world music, fifteen jazz, one early music, and fourteen new music programs, as well as two operas and three musical theater productions.

A recent study completed by PMP shows that in the organization’s 11-year history, it has contributed to the commissioning of 67 composers, including William Bolcom, Aaron Jay Kernis, Richard Danielpour, and Gunther Schuller, in addition to supporting composers within the community such as Jennifer Higdon and Richard Wernick. Proud of the role PMP has played in bringing new music to the Philadelphia community, Levy explains, “We are interested in supporting creativity, and certainly commissioning projects fit that mission.”



The Scrap Arts Group performing at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival

The sense of community fostered by PMP has significantly increased since the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia took over the administration of the program from New York-based Meet The Composer in 1997.

The move, Levy says, has made the program more accessible to participating organizations. “We’re really at the disposal of the music community and invite them to maintain an open dialogue with us,” he says. In addition, Levy points to the development of local seminars, an annual conference, and smaller professional development grants that expose recipients to new ideas and enable them to network within the community.

Evaluating the program over the last decade, Levy says that the grants have been “integral to moving the music community in a direction which enables greater risk taking and programmatic ingenuity. That’s one of our primary goals, to spark that desire in organizations to expand and reach out into a new area.”

The 2001 PMP awards go to:

The American Music Theater Festival/Prince Music Theater, $80,000, for the first major stage revival of the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin/Moss Hart musical Lady in the Dark.

Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, $80,000, to maintain the center’s reputation for cutting-edge presentations of many types of music.

Astral Artistic Services, $27,000, to support collaborations between area ensembles and two chamber music programs.

Choral Arts Society, $25,000, to support a concert of symphonic choral music at the Kimmel Center in honor of the Society’s 20th anniversary.

Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, $60,000, to fund an artistic enhancement project during their transition to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

International House of Philadelphia, $15,000, to support concerts by Portuguese fado singer Dulce Pontes and West African griot Kandia Kouyate.

Mann Center for the Performing Arts, $80,000, to support the Center’s 25th anniversary season.

Opera Company of Philadelphia, $64,000, for a production of Jacques Offenbach’s La Pericole.

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, $40,000, to strengthen and expand the Society’s Special Events Series including world premieres of works by Philadelphia composers Richard Wernick and James Primosch and Australian composer Mary Finsterer.

Philadelphia Folklore Project, $60,000 over two years to fund the Women’s Traditional Music Project.

Philadelphia Fringe Festival, $30,000, for seven musical presentations at the 2001 Fringe Festival.

Philadelphia Singers, $30,000 to fund a concert of <I>a capella</I> choral works by Rachmaninoff, Tavener, and Tallis.

Pottstown Symphony, $30,000, for a collaboration project with Landis & Company Theatre of Magic that will introduce audience members to musical concepts.

Relache, $30,000, to commission and present five new works from composers Kitty Brazelton, Shafer Mahoney, Christian Marclay, Matthew Shipp, and Menachem Wiesenberg.

SRUTI, The India Music and Dance Society, $5,000, to support concerts by South Indian clarinetist A.K.C. Natarajan.

Strings for Schools, $30,000, to present the Billy Taylor Trio with jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. in concerts and workshops.

University for the Arts, $28,000, to fund guest residencies with the University Big Band.

WHYY, $80,000, to fund Sunday Showcases, broadcasting the Philadelphia Orchestra 2001-02 season concerts on WHYY 91FM

This year’s selection panel included Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (panel chair); William Bolcom, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and pianist, Greg Osby, saxophonist, Blue Note recording artist and composer; Beverly Simmons, Director of Early Music America; Daniel Washington, baritone and Assistant Dean at the University of Michigan School of Music; Robert Garfias, Ethnomusicologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine; Pebbles Wadsworth, Director, University of Texas at Austin Performing Arts Center; and Mark Shapiro, Artistic Director of Cantori New York.