Since its founding in 1864, Swarthmore College has given students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. Offering a liberal arts and engineering curriculum, the College draws students from around the world and all 50 states. Academic programs in the arts at Swarthmore include studio art, art history, creative writing, dance, film and media, music, and theater. Supported by a 2015 Center grant, Swarthmore presented the North American premiere of Chopin Without Piano, an interpretive theatrical and musical piece that revealed new insights into Fryderyk Chopin as both a historical figure and a masterful composer. In 2017, Swarthmore received Center support for Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary, a socially engaged project that brings together book artists and members of Philadelphia’s Iraqi and Syrian refugee communities to create artists’ books that amplify personal narratives of displacement, immigration, and sanctuary. In 2020, Swarthmore received a Center Project grant for Rosine Association 2.0, an art and archive-based project that will reinterpret the mission of the Rosine Association, co-founded by Quaker activist Mira Sharpless Townsend in 1847 to help women of that era struggling with physical abuse, exploitation, and drug use.
Swarthmore College brought the North American premiere of Chopin Without Piano to Philadelphia, featuring an interpretive theatrical and musical piece that revealed new insights into Fryderyk Chopin as both a historical figure and a masterful composer. Performances at both Swarthmore and FringeArts reimagined the distinct character of Chopin's orchestral writing of two piano concerti using dramatic spoken text constructed from fragments of Chopin's letters and biographies, and Polish writers' commentaries on Chopin. Acclaimed Polish actress, Barbara Wysocka, who conceived the work with the Centrala theater company in Warsaw, Poland, performed the monologues in Polish with English subtitles. The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia performed the orchestral score, led by Polish conductor Bassem Akik. A concert grand piano was physically present on stage but was never played, representing Chopin's displacement from his homeland, while underscoring themes of absence and alienation that will unfold in the monologues.
*Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.*