Ars Nova Workshop commissioned composer and guitarist Nels Cline to create a concert experience inspired by Philadelphia’s rich musical history and Cline’s ambitious 2016 concept recording, Lovers, released by Blue Note Records. Lovers (for Philadelphia) was performed by Cline—also known as a member of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Wilco—with a specially assembled 17-member jazz orchestra of both Philadelphia musicians and artists who originally appeared on the recording, such as Zeena Parkins, Steven Bernstein, Julian Lage, and Erik Friedlander. Along with a selection of songs from Lovers, a new roster of songs and arrangements reflective of Philadelphia’s music scene was created by Cline in collaboration with Grammy-winning musician and arranger Michael Leonhart. Ars Nova has been presenting Cline since the organization’s founding and views Lovers as providing “the framework for an intimate engagement with Philadelphia's musical legacy in partnership with a musician at the apex of his craft.” Several research trips to Philadelphia laid the groundwork for the project, while a project publication offered audiences a look into Cline’s artistic process and Philadelphia's music scene through a series of commissioned essays.
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