Throughout April, the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts is hosting more than 135 events.
Innovation and collaboration will be creatively intertwined during the entire month of April, as the Kimmel Center presents the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.
Between 1910 and 1920, innovators in Paris developed a new, collaborative and modern style of art. Now, 100 years later, the spirit of uninhibited creativity from the “City of Light” will be reborn in Philadelphia April 7 through May 1.
“You’ll see things in the festival that you don’t usually see,” marketing director Dawn Frisby-Byers said.
For instance, the opening night gala will present the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Ballet working together like they never have before in a newly choreographed performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella.”
With Philadelphians usually putting the spotlight on sports, the festival was developed to give some attention to the established art and talented artists of the city.
“This is really a tremendous opportunity to really showcase all the arts in Philadelphia,” Frisby-Byers said.
The Kimmel Center lobby, which usually has an empty, dark and quiet atmosphere, has been transformed into a “magical presence,” executive director Ed Cambron said.
With an 81-foot Eiffel Tower embellished with light bulbs, a new information booth and a new stage in the middle of the plaza, the Kimmel Center aims to bring a wider selection of people into the building to learn more about PIFA, Frisby-Byers said.
According to the Kimmel Center website, starting on April 8, there will be free nightly performances on the new stage at 5 p.m. Every night there will be an Eiffel Tower light show at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. French language lessons, French food, wine tastings and more will also be offered in the new Kimmel Center lobby. There will even be flying trapeze lessons in the University of the Arts parking lot.
“This is a great time for folks to visit the Kimmel Center,” Cambron said.
Events for the festival will take place in venues all over the Philadelphia region, and a number of universities have gotten involved with PIFA, including Temple.
Rock Hall, located at 1715 N. Broad St., will host a free event on April 7 titled, “From Paris to the Pyrénées: The Songs of Déodat de Séverac,” in which Séverac’s work will be discovered through a lecture-recital presentation of his songs.
On April 10, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra will perform at the Temple Performing Arts Center. Music Director and Conductor Maestro Louis Scaglione will lead the well-known and talented youth orchestra through Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5,” Ottorino Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” and Stravinsky’s “Suite from the Firebird,” the 1919 version. Tickets for this event range from $20 to $25.
Temple students and professors are also performing in several events.
Award-winning stage director Robert Smythe, a Master’s of Fine Arts candidate in playwriting at Temple, will collaborate with the Chamber Orchestra on April 10 to implement the use of puppetry in combination with an ensemble performance of a newly staged production of Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale.”
On April 15 and 17 at the Tomlinson Theater, Temple students in the Opera Theater department will perform two French operas, which have both premiered at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Tickets range from $15 to $20.
On April 29 and 30, Tomlinson Theater will present “Pulcinella/Crystalling,” the story of two transformative journeys expressed through a combination of music, dance and visual art.
But PIFA is not just about music and dance. A Paris-inspired runway show will take place in the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza on April 8, showcasing nine local designers and the best student designers on a 60-foot fashion runway.
There will also be a culinary component of the festival, Cambron said. Master chefs from Lyon, France, and Paris will be paired with one of Philadelphia’s famous restaurants and work together to create innovative dishes.
“Art is for everybody,” artistic producer Barbara Silverstein said.
With more than 135 events and 1,500 artists, this 25-day festival is sure to offer something for everyone.
“We want everyone in the community to be excited about what Philadelphia has to offer,” Cambron said.
The Avenue of the Arts will be transformed into a Parisian street fair on April 30. Broad Street will be closed down from Chestnut to Lombard streets from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for the free event, making this one of the biggest street fairs Philadelphia has ever hosted.
“It’s not just going to be your normal hot dogs and hamburgers,” Frisby-Byers said.
Silverstein said grass is being brought in to construct a public garden for picnics, a giant Ferris wheel is being placed on Broad Street and street performers will entertain crowds, as well as musical performers on the stages on both ends of the street fair.
“It’s going to be pretty spectacular,” said Frisby-Byers, who added she hopes it doesn’t rain.
If you haven’t seen any of the street banners, taxi tops, wrapped SEPTA busses, or heard any of the PIFA advertisements on the radio or TV, more information can be found on PIFA’s website, https://pifa.org.
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.