Temple Contemporary to Present SYMPHONY FOR A BROKEN ORCHESTRA This Winter
Temple Contemporary has announced Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, a piece composed by David Lang using only broken instruments from the School District of Philadelphia, to be performed this December 3rd at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia.
The musical performance will mark the public culmination of a drive to adopt more than 1,000 broken instruments owned by the School District of Philadelphia. Like many school districts across the country, slashed budgets have led to drastic cuts in arts education in Philadelphia. The result is that many of the instruments that would be available to students for use in music classes sit, broken and unrepaired, in closets and school basements, awaiting work that the district cannot afford.
Temple Contemporary has been granted the use of 450 of those instruments for Symphony for a Broken Orchestra. Acclaimed composer David Lang is writing a symphony intended for those instruments as they are-broken-which will be performed by hundreds of musicians, including students from the Philadelphia schools. A selection of sounds the broken instruments can make is available on the project's website, here.
Following the performance, all of the instruments will be professionally repaired and returned to the school district and its students. Access to music education has been shown to radiate a number of benefits to students, especially in disadvantaged communities, beyond the enjoyment of music itself. From language acquisition to fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, social skills, and self-esteem, access to music education has an array of impacts that can improve educational outcomes and impart valuable life skills-benefits all students deserve to enjoy. Working with the school district to raise awareness of, and address, this lack of resources is part and parcel of Temple Contemporary's mission to re-imagine the social function of art.
The performance of Symphony for a Broken Instrument will be free and open to the public, but tickets are limited. Instrument adopters are guaranteed a ticket to the performance.
Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is the latest in a long line of Temple Contemporary's socially engaged projects. For 2015's reForm, a response to the closing of two dozen Philadelphia public schools in the budget cuts of 2013, a portion of Fairhill Elementary in North Philadelphia was recreated by artist Pepón Osorio, documenting the closing of the school and the effect it had on its students and the surrounding neighborhood. 2013's Funeral for a Home elegized the destruction of huge swaths of Philadelphia's housing stock, presenting the history of a single two-story row home on a block already largely torn down and culminating in a literal funeral on the day of its destruction. Symphony for a Broken Orchestra contributes to this legacy of social engagement, exploring the potential of art with local communities.
Major support for Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Barra Foundation.
David Lang has recently premiered two operas, anatomy theater and the loser, the latter of which he also directed. He continues to be a much sought-after collaborator in film, theater, and dance. "Simple Song #3," from the score which he wrote for Paolo Sorrentino's film Youth, was nominated for Golden Globe and Academy awards, while the New York City Ballet recently premiered a new Lang piece with choreography by Pontus Lidberg. Next year will also see the premiere of his symphony without a hero in Seattle, while his Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion continues to be performed all over the world.
Temple Contemporary at Temple University's Tyler School of Art was founded in 2011 by its current director Robert Blackson. Temple Contemporary's mission is to re-imagine the social function of art. Guiding this mission is the belief that democratic leadership is the most appropriate way to produce an artistic program that inclusively responds to pressing issues of local relevance and national significance. Embodying this democratic ethos, our programming priorities are led by a forty-member advisory council representing a broad spectrum of Philadelphia, including high school students and civic leaders (nurses, urban farmers, community activists, teachers, etc.). This diverse leadership process positions Temple Contemporary as a public service addressing contemporary issues of urgency and simultaneously necessitates social engagement and debate as the determining strategy of our programming. This re-ordering of conventional art gallery values foregrounds curatorial accountability, reciprocity, and exchange as the basis of Temple Contemporary's social life, and by extension, our social values.