Marshall Allen

2012 Pew Fellow

Marshall Allen, 2012 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

“My work is an extension of Sun Ra’s mission to provide for the spiritual healing of planet Earth.”

Marshall Belford Allen (b. 1924) has been an active member of the Sun Ra Arkestra for over 50 years, and has helmed the historic jazz group since 1995, following the death of jazz pioneer Sun Ra. A leader in the 1960s avant-garde jazz movement, Allen started clarinet lessons at the age of 10. Stationed in Paris during World War II, he played with American jazz greats such as pianist Art Simmons and saxophonist Don Byas, and then enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music. Allen has appeared in concert and on recordings with such diverse groups as Phish, Sonic Youth, Digable Planets, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. His main focus, however, remains the preservation of his mentor’s artistic legacy, and further development of Sun Ra’s musical precepts. Allen writes new compositions of his own and develops fresh arrangements of Sun Ra’s music to inspire a new generation of aspiring musicians. Allen writes, “My challenge is to get my musicians to play music that will enlighten them and, as a result, enlighten the public also.”

Although he has toured extensively, in March 2013, Allen performed for the first time in China, in collaboration with filmmaker James Harrar at Beijing’s Jue Music + Art Festival. He said to ARTINFO, “I perform all over the world because I’m playing universal music. I’m playing cosmic music. Space-age music. So why shouldn’t I play for China?” Allen celebrated his 89th birthday in May 2013 with a Sun Ra Arkestra concert in Philadelphia, and his 90th birthday in May 2014 with a Sun Ra Arkestra performance in Kassel, Germany.


On October 30 at 9 p.m. ET, WXPN broadcasts live from Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette, Louisiana with the zydeco all-star group Creole United.

Grants & Grantees

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, produced a two-part program recreating a royal christening that occurred in Stuttgart, Germany in 1616.

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.

The Crossing commissions 15-minute musical pieces by seven leading composers, created in response to 17th-century composer Dieterich Buxtehude’s Jesu Membra Nostri, a series of seven German Baroque cantatas.

Grants & Grantees

A young choreographer who has already produced provocative, experimental dance works, Poe (Pew Fellow, 2011) is the founder of dance/theater company idiosynCrazy productions.

Grants & Grantees

In 2005 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 66 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s partnership with United States Artists (USA) allows Pew Fellows to participate in USA’s unique online fundraising platform to raise money and awareness about upcoming projects.

Grants & Grantees

Beth Kephart is a writer and a 2005 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Silvana Cardell is a choreographer, dancer and, educator, whose choreographic impulses are defined by her experience as an Argentine expatriate living, working, and raising a family in the United States.

The William Way LGBT Community Center presents OutBeat: America’s First Queer Jazz Festival. The four-day festival will highlight intersections between sexual orientation, gender identity, and jazz history and culture.

Playwright and Pew Fellow James Ijames talks about how history influences his work, the importance of failure, and more.

Grants & Grantees

For over 25 years, Network for New Music has been dedicated to commissioning and performing music by living composers.