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Westphal College and Curtis Institute Receive First-Ever Grants for Collaborative Project from the Pew Center For Arts & Heritage

Logo: Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

October 22, 2019

Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and The Curtis Institute of Music have been awarded the first-ever project grants from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for an inter-institutional collaboration. The combined awards, which total $700,000, will fund LISTEN! Philadelphia, a large-scale musical experience spanning several months and bringing together more than 120 local musicians of varied genre under the direction of internationally acclaimed composer and conductor Peter Wiegold, to explore the central artistic question: “How do we find a space where people can listen?”

Wiegold will serve as an artist in residence for six months from January to June 2021, during which time he will work with local musicians to develop a new way of creating music together, using a combination of non-traditional instrumentation, non-traditional orchestral scoring, and musical improvisation. The project will include six smaller-scale Club Night performances held in venues throughout the city in April and May 2021 and will culminate in three large-scale public performances of a grand Roaratorio to be held in the Chapel at Girard College in May 2021.

For both Drexel and Curtis, the arts can be a catalyst for social cohesion and change. LISTEN! Philadelphia lives at the intersection of musical excellence and civic engagement as this project aims to dynamically engage Philadelphia’s varied communities in the exercise of active listening. Through this practice, both the musical artists and the audience can participate actively to develop a better understanding of cultural connections and identities. Finding a space within which people can listen will inform the power of collaboration and foster empathy for differing cultural perspectives.

Peter Wiegold is one of the most innovative musicians working today. He “toys with the relationship between composer, music director and performer, reworking their roles in the creative process” [The Times], all the while providing “inspirational direction.” [The Independent] For LISTEN! Philadelphia, Wiegold’s creative method of working will guide an exploration of musical independence and interdependence, serving as the primary method through which musicians and audience members can explore new ways of finding space to listen.

The project’s musical participants are varied in genre and represent many communities throughout Philadelphia. The Curtis Intercultural Ensemble will be the key artistic partner in LISTEN! Philadelphia. This ensemble of diverse world musicians will perform together for one of the Club Nights and as part of the larger Roaratorio. The Curtis Intercultural Ensemble will also engage in Community Hub workshops and performances, curated by Curtis and further extending the reach of Wiegold’s creative process into the larger community. Other artistic contributors to the project who will perform in the Club Nights and Roaratorio include: Grammy Award-winning composer and producer King Britt who will perform with a DJ and five cross-genre musicians; Eight members of Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia’s renowned Baroque Orchestra; 50 Members of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, one of the country’s oldest choruses; 50 Members of the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale under the artistic leadership of founder J. Donald Dumpson; Hip Hop artist Raphael Xavier and a group of professional dancers; Poet Ursula Rucker; and Silver Cloud, a Native American musical ensemble curated by Tailinh Agoyo.

All LISTEN! Philadelphia performances will be free and open to the public. More information including specific performance dates, times and locations are forthcoming.

About Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
The Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is dedicated to the education of students in the areas of design, media and the performing and visual arts. The Westphal College offers 17 undergraduate and eight graduate majors, housed in award-winning, technologically-enhanced facilities, and taught by faculty who have worked at the top of their fields. The College values a studio approach that incorporates six months of required co-op work experience for all undergraduate students. The College is home to two theaters, an art gallery, a notable collection of over 17,000 historic costumes, a record label, and a television station. Students produce sophisticated work through creative, multi-disciplinary practices, and provide meaningful shared experiences that promote individual and communal growth. Twelve of the Westphal programs enjoy national rankings and the College is ranked one of the best Design and Applied Art schools in the nation. For more information, visit

About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Jessica Doheny, Mandell Theater Managing Director