Coming in 2020: Center-Funded Projects Featuring the Work of Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, George Nakashima, Refik Anadol, and More

11 Dec 2019


The Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall. Photo by Jessica Griffin.

Center-supported projects on the horizon include a rarely played Beethoven piece performed in a “virtual cathedral,” a groundbreaking examination of Philadelphia’s mid-century influence on the avant-garde, a new monument for an unrecognized hero, and more. 2020 offers a calendar full of world premieres, openings, and other ambitious new cultural offerings that will reinterpret the past, consider the present, and shape the future.

Below, browse a preview of the performances, exhibitions, and programs that will inspire audiences in the coming year, and sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay in the know about events, announcements, and more.

Sign up for our newsletter.

Experimenting with Technology

THE PHILADELPHIA MATTER/2020, Christ Church Preservation Trust
Pioneering postmodern choreographer, theatrical director, and writer David Gordon will produce a new performance work connecting live performers at Christ Church’s Neighborhood House in Philadelphia with a simultaneous video stream of performers in Manhattan. (Fall)

Beethoven: Missa solemnis 2.0, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Beethoven’s rarely performed Missa solemnis will be accompanied by visual projections and lighting designed by Refik Anadol—an award-winning media artist known for his site-specific public art—that will envelop audiences within a virtual, multi-denominational cathedral. (October)

Being/With, Nichole Canuso Dance Company
Led by Pew Fellow Nichole Canuso, Being/With will invite strangers to connect with one another in a fusion of live performance and virtual technology. Two participants at a time will experience and co-create the work simultaneously in two different places. (Fall)


Milford Graves, Beyond Polymath, sculpture detail. Photo courtesy of Ars Nova Workshop.

Interpreting History

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde, University of the Arts
An exhibition, publication, and performances will highlight Philadelphia’s role as a “city of firsts,” exploring the region’s significant contributions to visual culture in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. (January–April)

The White Lama, Nikki Appino
The adventurous life and disappearance of early twentieth-century explorer, mystic, and author Theos Bernard will frame a performance work about the quest for the sacred, conceived by Nikki Appino and created in collaboration with Philip Glass, Tenzin Choegyal, and Kevin Joyce. Presented as part of the Annenberg Center’s #GLASSFEST celebrating composer Philip Glass, the work will include a new composition by Glass and Choegyal, a Tibetan musician. (March)

Black Lives Always Mattered!: Hidden African American Philadelphia of the Twentieth Century, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University
An exhibition will preview a new graphic novel depicting underrepresented stories of talent, courage, and achievement from twentieth-century African American Philadelphians. Author Dr. Sheena C. Howard is the lead writer, and Eric Battle is the curator and art director. (opens in March)

Inequality in Bronze: Monumental Plantation Legacies, Stenton
Stenton will celebrate the unveiling of a new monument, designed by Pew Fellow Karyn Olivier, to honor Dinah, an enslaved woman credited with saving the historic mansion from burning by the British in 1777. (June)

Milford Graves: A Mind Body Deal, Ars Nova Workshop
Presenting the artistic laboratory of Milford Graves as a living, interactive theater, an exhibition will shed light on a lifetime of multidisciplinary creative work from an icon of the free jazz movement. (September)

Designing Motherhood: A Century of Making (and Unmaking) Babies, Maternity Care Coalition
A multi-site exhibition, catalogue, and series of public programs will survey the designs that have defined the material culture and experience of motherhood over the past 100 years. (opens in October)


Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, J'Nai Bridges, mezzo soprano. Photo by Caitlin Ruby Miller.

Exploring Artistic Lineage

Emerging Voices: Art Song and Social Connection, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Curated in collaboration with tenor vocalist Nicholas Phan, performances and salons will illustrate how the art song form—with its intersection of poetry and music—remains a powerful vehicle for social exchange, featuring compositions by Clause Debussy, Nadia Boulanger, Igor Stravinsky, and others. (January)

Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement III - The Triple Deities, Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Created by Pew Fellow Tiona Nekkia McClodden, a multimedia performance will merge art song, exhibition, film, and sculpture to examine the black female identity within the context of American society and consider how African American classical musicians historically used the art song form as a critical tool. (Spring)

Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans, WXPN
Concerts, a yearlong public radio series, an NPR-distributed radio documentary, and a multimedia website will investigate Haitian influences on the music, culture, and community of New Orleans and highlight Haiti’s considerable artistic and musical traditions. (begins in May)


Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. Photo courtesy of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia.

Examining Place and Identity

Mending Wall, PRISM Quartet
PRISM Quartet will perform newly commissioned works created by four renowned composers—Martin Bresnick, George Lewis, Arturo O’Farrill, and Juri Seo—exploring the metaphorical meaning of walls in contemporary society, giving musical form to questions about identity, community, division, and freedom. The composers are inspired by poems of their own choosing. (March)

Deep Blue Sea, The Mann Center for the Performing Arts
An immersive, evening-length work from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company will explore the relationships between the individual and the larger community, performer, and audience, staged in the round to bring audience members and performers together in an intimate, shared experience. (May)

Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia, The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia
An exhibition and programs inside and on the grounds of the historic Shofuso Japanese House will showcase an intercultural body of design and architecture from four influential—and displaced—mid-century figures: George Nakashima, Junzo Yoshimura, and Antonin and Noémi Raymond. (June–November)

Mushroom, People’s Light
A new play written by playwright and actress Eisa Davis will track intersecting narratives at a mushroom farm, inspired by Davis’s residency in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the “Mushroom Capital of the World.” The play will explore the relationships among the land, the workers, and the food on American tables. (Fall/Winter)

Active/Ism, Asian Arts Initiative
An exhibition and public programs will underscore the intersections of art, sport, and queer identity through the multidisciplinary work of print artist and professional skateboarder Jeffrey Cheung. (Fall)