The interior of the Kimmel Center, home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, has been transformed into April in Paris, including an 81 foot Eiffel Tower. This is all part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. The calendar of events is packed from now until May 1. As they say on the official web site:
“It was the age of Picasso, Chagall, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Matisse. Paris from 1910 – 1920 was a blank canvas waiting for the next generation of innovators to usher in a new age of inspiration. This is where Picasso continued his legacy and inspired other artists to do the same. Sergei Diaghilev brought Russian-influenced choreography to Parisian audiences. Famous dancer, Isadora Duncan, developed modern styles still in use today while novelist Marcel Proust was busy crafting his most famous works. Stravinsky briefly settled here, just long enough to create new arrangements and songs. Paris inspired a renewed energy and endless opportunities for artists to leave their mark on the world. These artists began twisting and breaking the rules of creativity, redefining what the world recognized as art.
Creative minds flocked from all reaches of the globe racing to be a part of Paris’ artistic movement. Musicians like James Reese Europe crossed the ocean to help spark the Parisian jazz scene. Painters such as Tsuguharu Fujita flocked from Japan, bringing with them a far eastern influence. James Joyce traveled from his native Ireland to continue his novel and poetry writing in Paris. Russians left their homeland in search of asylum and creative freedom. What formed was a melting pot of music, painting, and poetry that has been unrivaled since. The way we hear music, see visual art, and experience theatre, poetry, and stories have been directly influenced by this groundbreaking period in creativity. And in many ways, we are still under their spell.”
On Sunday, I attended one of the most exciting orchestra performances I have ever seen, based upon the music and choreography of Paris’s Ballets Russes and the fruitful collaboration between Sergei Diaghilev and Igor Stravinski. The performance included new choreography for Pulcinella performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet along with the Orchestra. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, there were wine tastings, a crêpe cart, free live music post show, and a gourmet French meal in the café at the Kimmel Center. While it’s not Paris, it’s quite, quite lovely.
Il faut le voir pour le croire (eel foe luh vwarh poor luh crawhr) means “it has to be seen to be believed” or “seeing is believing.” That’s how I feel about the PIFA events this month. Check them out for yourself if you can.