Violin Woman, African Dreams

Diane Monroe



The Colored Girls Museum, a Victorian house, with large front yard located at 4613 Newhall St., Germantown section of Philadelphia. Photo by Vashti Dubois.


Diane Monroe, 2018 Pew Fellow. Photo by Jason Fifield.

Composer, violinist, and 2018 Pew Fellow Diane Monroe will create an evening-length suite inspired by The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM), a singular house museum located in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. Using the museum’s collection as a provocation, the work will be, in Monroe’s words, ”an exploration aimed at interpreting sonically the joys, fragilities, trials, and dreams of girls/women of color.” Written for violin, Western string quartet, West African kora (a long-necked, 21-string, plucked instrument), and percussion, along with bass and/or guitar, the composition will provide a framework for improvisations by each player, and will weave a musical narrative that incorporates vocalizing, storytelling, and movement. Monroe will engage a group of accomplished musicians: the adventurous, contemporary chamber music ensemble PUBLIQuartet, and Yacouba Sissoko, an internationally recognized master of West African kora and traditional storytelling. Working with the museum’s curatorial team, Monroe aims to delve into the history of specific objects and offer audiences new ways to experience the narratives within TCGM’s holdings. The suite will be presented in a site-specific performance at TCGM and a concert at the Academy of Vocal Arts.

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.