“I’m constantly developing a younger jazz audience. Hopefully it will arouse more consciousness among audiences and enable them to become more sensitive to diversity, history, and culture.”
John Blake, Jr. (1947–2014) took his inspiration as a contemporary jazz violinist and composer from some of the genre’s greats, having served as a band member for two legendary jazz masters: saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and pianist McCoy Tyner. Born in Philadelphia, Blake was a faculty member at both The University of the Arts and the Manhattan School of Music. He was commissioned in 2005 by Chamber Music America to create a compilation, A Celebration of Fiddle Music from Africa to America, which traced the violin’s history in African and African-American music. His latest work, Motherless Child, features jazz arrangements of traditional Negro spirituals. At the time of his Pew Fellowship award, Blake hoped to raise awareness of Philadelphia’s storied history of jazz and thereby perpetuate the art form. “I’m constantly developing a younger audience,” Blake said. “It is a must to keep jazz alive.” In August 2014, he passed away at age 67.
Billy Taylor Trio (Billy Taylor, piano; Chip Jackson, bass; Winard Harper, drums) with special guest John Blake, Jr. Recorded in January 2001.
Alex Da Corte appears twice in Interview and Karen M’Closkey & Keith VanDerSys are singled out in Metropolis. Plus, news on Brian Phillips, Zoe Strauss, Matthew Mitchell, and CAConrad.
Chris Jennings is the managing director of Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, an exemplary producer of classical work, including daring adaptations.
Kariamu Welsh is a dancer and a 1996 Pew Fellow.
We asked the 2013 Pew Fellow poets to share samples of their work. Watch Jenn McCreary read selections from “Haunted Forest,” a passage from her recent book & now my feet are maps.
Painted Bride Arts Center presented four public performances that featured repertoire developed during a 10-month collaboration between the Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra and Philip Hamilton’s Voices.
We speak with Xavier—2013 Pew Fellow, hip-hop dancer, and Post-it aficionado—whose recent work The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance was hailed by Dance Magazine as “artful and mesmerizing.”
Chris joined Portland Center Stage as artistic director in May 2000. Before coming to Portland, he was artistic director at Actor’s Express in Atlanta, a company he co-founded in 1988.
This month’s Pew Fellows news highlights include a new opera from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, a Hodder Fellowship through Princeton University for set designer and theater artist Matt Saunders, and new exhibition works by artists Tim Portlock, Jane Irish, Alex Da Corte, and more.
Among the largest art museums in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a pilgrimage site for modern and contemporary art professionals.
Anthony Smyrski works with Dan Murphy as the artist duo Megawords. They are well known throughout Philadelphia for installations that are equal parts gathering space, artist studio, and storefront.
Founded in 2002 by two composers, Chamber Music Now provided the Philadelphia community with original concert productions.
The Painted Bride commissioned composer, bandleader, and jazz drummer John Hollenbeck to create and perform a new work with his Large Ensemble.