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A special newsletter for our Mann family

Because of You!

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT AND CEO Dear Friends, This first issue of Great Vibrations, our new semi-annual “family” newsletter, could not come at a more important time. As we cope with the unprecedented COVID-19 challenge, each of us can find refuge by connecting with our own circles of community. More than anyone, you know that the Mann is such a community. We are a community of people who come together--united by music--for amazing experiences that push boundaries and excite the imagination. In normal times, this newsletter will give you a sneak peak of what we are planning, onstage and off. As of today, we are unsure how our summer season may unfold.  We will keep you informed by email, and our website calendar at MannCenter.org will have the most up to date information.  Meanwhile, you will find in these pages a guide to online offerings from our Philadelphia arts community, and our new Mann Music Room, a video connection to some of the local and international performers who have inspired young people through our education programs. In difficult times, we need inspiration and hope from the arts more than ever. As President John F. Kennedy so eloquently put it, “The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose--and is a test to the quality of a nation’s civilization.” Like many nonprofit organizations, we are not capitalized to withstand the devastating loss of income this situation is causing. Your financial support means more to us now than ever. Please, donate here. We cannot wait to see you again in our own little piece of civilization, in the middle of Fairmount Park, under the stars. Until then, we hope you stay safe and healthy, and that Great Vibrations gives you an uplifting break. 

Catherine Cahill President & CEO

As of April 2020

WAYS TO NURTURE YOUR SOUL IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS If you are a Mann supporter or patron, you have experienced firsthand how much the arts nourish the spirit. Especially while you are sitting in beautiful Fairmount Park on a balmy summer evening under the stars. We’ll get back there, eventually. For now, we want to offer you a few ways to lift your spirits- from our own team and also from our Philadelphia arts colleagues.

When I sing, I don’t want them to see that my face is black. I don’t want them to see that my face is white. I want them to see my soul. And that is colorless. --MARIAN ANDERSON

This new section on our website features short video clips featuring local artists that have graced our stages and education programs. The goal is to teach one simple skill in dance or music, geared for all ages and technical abilities. The Mann Music Room reflects what the Mann does best: curating culturally inclusive content from artists and educators who represent global cultures and/or our own Philadelphia culture. We are sharing this material with our local school partners along with a brief student guide filled with fun trivia and activities geared for all ages. Our Education team is also working to create lesson modules for each video focusing on elementary and middle school-age students.

• The Philadelphia Orchestra is offering video and audio of selected concerts, including their last performance of Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 recorded on Thursday, March 12, 2020, to an empty Verizon Hall. Also video discussions and master classes.  ove From Philly was created as a virtual stage for Philly’s musicians, artists and personalities and artists around the globe to • L provide community and connection during this time. Performers are sending brief videos sharing their pandemic stories along with short performances.  hiladelphia Chamber Music Society offers audio clips of performances from artists who would have appeared in their concerts • P this spring. • C  urtis Institute of Music is sharing videos of concert performances and access to their immensely popular online Beethoven course from pianist and alum Jonathan Biss.  hiladelphia Jazz Project’s The Remedy Project videos could not be more timely. They present collaborative music making • P between Delaware Valley jazz musicians and area medical and health care workers.  he Crossing, Philadelphia’s Grammy award-winning choir, is sending daily email updates with uplifting performance clips when • T you sign up for their newsletter. • Philadelphia Folksong Society is launching a digital concert series on Facebook. Information here.

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest. —HENRY DAVID THOREAU


We are proud to partner with these outstanding artist educators who have lost vital income because of the pandemic. It’s one way we can support each other during this difficult time.

Our sponsors’ generosity underscores their belief that innovative approaches to arts and culture, learning, and health and wellness are all essential to make our West Philadelphia community a healthier place to live and work. Mann Vice President of Education & Community Engagement, Naomi Gonzalez Guests enjoy cocktails and performance by the Sister Cities Girlchoir

Voices of Hope The

sights and sounds of inspiration rose up to fill the magnificent dome of the Please Touch Museum recently, as the museum and the Mann hosted 400 of their Parkside neighbors and guests for a special Black History Month celebration featuring the 2020 Health and Wellness Innovation Awards. Emceed by 6ABC’s Tamala Edwards, the evening honored three outstanding leaders in Philadelphia’s Health and Wellness community: Dixie P. James, President & COO of Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia; Terry Booker, Vice President of Corporate Development and Innovation at Independence Blue Cross; and Michael O’Bryan, Director of Learning at The Village of Arts and Humanities. Thrilling performances by the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, soul/jazz fusion violinist Monique Brooks Roberts, and the elegant and powerful young dancers of PHILADANCO’s D/2 company filled out the evening. Before the ceremony, guests enjoyed drinks and a Philly hors d’oeuvres spread of favorites alongside the Baby Duck Pond and snaking “river” in the museum’s enchanting River Adventure Room. A string quartet from

l. to r.: Michael O’Bryan, Director of Learning, The Village of Arts and Humanities; Dr. Michelle L. Shorter, Director of Community Engagement, Delaware Valley Nemours; Catherine M. Cahill, President & CEO, the Mann; Dixie P. James, President & COO, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia; Terry Booker, Vice President of Corporate Development and Innovation, Independence Blue Cross

Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Sister Cities Girlchoir provided musical accompaniment. “We are so grateful to our Presenting Sponsor, Nemours Children’s Health System; our Reception Sponsors, Einstein Medical Center and Independence Blue Cross; our Media Partner, 6ABC; and all of our education and community engagement supporters,” says Mann Vice President of Education & Community Engagement, Naomi Gonzalez.


The Mann and the Dell: What’s the Difference? by Jack McCarthy, Music Historian

• The Robin Hood Dell was built in 1930 as a summer home for The Philadelphia Orchestra. The venue’s site was a natural amphitheater in Fairmount Park on the east bank of the Schuylkill, named after the Robin Hood Tavern that once operated there. The concerts were managed by a non-profit that became known as Robin Hood Dell Concerts, Inc. • In 1948, civic leader and philanthropist Frederic R. Mann assumed leadership of the organization. He stabilized its finances, upgraded the facilities, and made the concerts free, all while featuring renowned artists. But the Dell bandshell and seats were not covered, concerts were often rained out, and the Schuylkill Expressway added traffic noise in 1958. • Mann secured funding for a new, covered facility on the west side of the Schuylkill River. “Robin Hood Dell West” opened in June 1976. The original location was renamed Robin Hood Dell East, later Dell Music Center, and is now managed by the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

• In 1978, Robin Hood Dell West was renamed the Mann Music Center and then, in 1998, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. • Today, “the Dell” and “the Mann” are unrelated venues with different governing organizations—one a city agency, the other a private non-profit. While not affiliated, they share a ninetyyear tradition of presenting outdoor concerts in Philadelphia.

SPOTLIGHT Justin Klein: Music Touches the Soul Attorney Justin Klein vividly recalls attending the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts under Leonard Bernstein as a high school flute student. “It was absolutely thrilling,” he says. “I can still remember the location of the seats.” When Justin and his wife, Mary, moved to Philadelphia in 1983, they became regular Mann attendees. “We loved the notion of sitting on the lawn with a glass of wine and hearing The Philadelphia Orchestra play great music.” They brought picnics, and they brought friends. So when Nancy Newman, the Mann’s (recently retired) executive vice president, asked him whether he would like to be a candidate to join the Mann board in 2000, Justin agreed. He served as chair from 2005 to 2013, which included some challenging times. Two things stand out in his mind: “All of the Mann’s constituents, including our owner, the City, went the extra mile to insure the future of the Mann, and not a single board member left the board.” Why not? His guess: “You join because you want to work and be part of the community. You are in the middle of a cityowned park in the middle of Philadelphia. And when you put music there, it’s infectious.” Justin has seen evidence of that last point. Just after 9/11,

when our entire country was still in shock, The Philadelphia Orchestra gave a special free concert at the Mann. The venue was packed, the concert was broadcast live on WHYYTV, and people were tremendously grateful. “That was a quintessential touching of the soul,” he recalls. Twenty years later and still on the board, Justin is delighted with the dramatic improvements President & CEO Catherine Cahill and her team have made. “Whether it’s the education activities, or the broad appeal of the programming, or the upgrades in the facility, it’s really exciting. And they’ve developed an elegant social experience. You have dinner in the Crescendo restaurant at the top of the hill and it’s really good. Then you go to a great concert.” He enjoys bringing friends who have not been to the Mann in many years. “They say, ‘This place looks wonderful! I can’t believe what you guys have done here.’” As Senior Counsel at Ballard Spahr, Justin is proud that several colleagues from his firm serve on the Mann’s Chairman’s Council. “Giving back to the community is one of the pillars of our firm’s philosophy. So I feel very good about my Mann work, not only for myself but for my partners and the firm.” Not to mention for Philadelphia’s music lovers.

Gevon Goddard, left, and Joseph Conyers, conductor.

Dream Opportunity for Student Musicians

This July, the Mann again partners with The School District of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Project 440 for the All City Orchestra Summer Academy (ACOSA). This intensive two-week summer program helps young musicians develop their music and leadership skills. Students work with top professional musicians, attend Philadelphia Orchestra rehearsals, and perform on the Mann’s Presser Foundation Stage. ACOSA is open to all middle and high school orchestra students from the Greater Philadelphia area at no cost to them. Elizabeth d’Alessandro, instrumental teacher for the School District of Philadelphia and ACOSA faculty member:

“Having Don Liuzzi and Joseph Conyers from The Philadelphia Orchestra conduct and Orchestra members lead sectionals was an amazing opportunity for these kids. And there are the beautiful grounds. City kids usually don’t get this kind of idyllic summer camp experience.

Most kids this age don’t like to be early. They were early. Before camp, I had a difficult time convincing some of them that they should try out for the All City Orchestra. After camp, they said, ‘I can do this.’ And they all made it.” Sandra Bridgelal, mother of 18-year-old cellist Gevon Goddard, a senior at Franklin Learning Center and All City Orchestra member for the past four years:

“Gevon was a section leader and Mr. Conyers taught him how to lead his section. It really changed him. He walked away much more confident. He wants to pursue a music education degree and change lives like his mentors are doing. He’s been accepted to every college he has auditioned for. And he wants to give back – maybe go back there as an intern.”

Donate to support these and other meaningful Mann education programs or contact the Mann Development office at (215) 546-7900. Don Liuzzi conducts ACOSA rehearsal.

Profile for The Mann Center for the Performing Arts

Great Vibrations · Spring 2020  

Great Vibrations · Spring 2020