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November 15th, 2005
Art After Five Presents World Premiere of Original Jazz Composition Inspired by Museum’s Collection

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Art After 5 series takes a bold step forward on Friday evening, Dec. 2 with the world premiere of an original jazz composition inspired by the Museum’s permanent collections. The performance by renowned pianist and composer Stanley Cowell is the first of two commissioned jazz compositions funded by the Philadelphia Music Project. The second original piece of music, by Grammy-nominated saxophonist David Liebman, will have its premiere in April 2006.

Cowell, who has performed and recorded with important jazz artists such as Max Roach, Miles Davis, and the Heath Brothers, has created a 30-minute musical work reflecting his appreciation, impressions, and study of the Museum’s Asian art collections. The composition, which Cowell describes as "jazz outside the box," incorporates musical and artistic practices associated with the cultures of the Museum’s Indian, Japanese and Chinese art collections.

"I was struck by the spirituality of the Museum’s Asian art collection," Cowell said. The galleries that Cowell repeatedly visited while writing his music are some of the most inspiring spaces in the Museum, including the spectacular 16th century Pillared Temple Hall from Southern India, carved with huge figures and scenes from Hindu mythology; the traditional Japanese teahouse, Sunkaraku, originally used for tea ceremonies built around concepts of harmony, respect, purity and elegance; and a 14th century Japanese Buddhist Temple of the Attainment of Happiness. Additionally, a 1,000-year-old bronze sculpture depicting the rhythmic movements of Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, inspired a lively piano tune. "I couldn’t help but write a blues for Rama," Cowell said.

Joining Cowell (piano) for the world premiere performance are John Blake (violin) and his son, Jonathan Blake (drums); Ralph Bowen (alto sax and flute); Mike Richmond (cello and bass); Robert Benford (percussion); and Sunny Cowell (viola), daughter of the composer.

The concept, conceived by Sara Moyn, the Museum’s Manager of Evening Programs, explores relationships between music and the visual arts, allowing an interdisciplinary approach within the Museum’s jazz programming. The Museum’s collections have inspired generations of artists, and that tradition continues with Cowell’s musical interpretation of the treasures in the Asian art galleries. The original works of music composed by Cowell and Liebman further spotlight the Museum as a unique and engaging venue where the performing and visual arts work together.

This program, including the commissioning and presentation, is made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, an Artistic Initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by The University of the Arts.

About Art After 5
Art After 5 offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy evening hours to explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 200 galleries, housing a vast collection of art from around the world. The experience is enhanced each Friday by a program of music, dance, food, and drinks in the Great Stair Hall. Performances are presented in two sets: 5:45 – 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 – 8:15 p.m., with guided tours of the galleries offered throughout the evening. A full cash bar and à la carte menu of appetizers, light entrées and desserts is available with table service in the Great Stair Hall. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens (62 and over); $8 for students with I.D. and children 13-18; children 12 years old and younger are admitted free at all times.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Marketing and Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at (215) 684-7860. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100, or visit the Museum's website at www.philamuseum.org.

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