Three New Critically-Acclaimed Acts Added To The Stellar Lineup Of PIFA 2018

Three New Critically-Acclaimed Acts Added To The Stellar Lineup Of PIFA 2018The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts announces three more critically-acclaimed acts to its 2018 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). They are Toshi Reagon -- a talented singer, composer, and producer with roots in folk, blues, and rock; Nobuntu - an all-female acapella group from Zimbabwe; and Inventive Mothers: A Tribute to Frank Zappa performed by Studio Dan from Austria. Each will enhance the stellar lineup of artists already planned for PIFA 2018. The 11-day festival is packed with more than 50 performances ranging from music and dance to 360-degree immersive spectacle experiences and will attract regional visitors to Philadelphia from Thursday, May 31 through Sunday, June 10.


"The Kimmel Center prides itself on gracing its stages with rich and diverse performances for all audiences," said Anne Ewers, President & CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. "These artists offer folk, world, blues, rock and gospel music. We can't wait to see, hear and experience the talent they'll bring to PIFA 2018."



PIFA 2018 will kick off on May 31 with a gala event at the Kimmel Center benefitting our education and community outreach programs. The centerpiece of the PIFA Gala will be a performance in Verizon Hall featuring singer, songwriter, and guitarist Toshi Reagon and the cast of 'Parable of the Sower,' with special guest Lisa Fischer, and including strings from the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.


Reagon and friends will perform highlights from her genre-defying work-in-progress based on Octavia Butler's acclaimed novel, 'Parable of the Sower.' Set in the future, this gospel opera blends science fiction, African American spiritualism and deep insights on gender, race, and the future of human civilization. Special guests include 20 female string players, which include members of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and powerhouse vocalist Lisa Fischer.


The performance will take place under the light of U.K. artist Luke Jerram's Museum of the Moon, a giant scale replica of the Earth's moon hung in Verizon Hall, created using digital imagery from NASA.

Luke Jerram's multidisciplinary arts practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live artworks. Living in the UK, but working internationally, Jerram creates art projects that excite and inspire people around the world. Measuring seven meters in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimeter of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon's surface.


Toshi Reagon

Critics consider Reagon one of the most compelling performers on the modern-rock scene. She opened for Lenny Kravitz on his first world tour and graced the stage with performers including Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Her band, BIGLovely, has been performing since September 1996.


She has been the recipient of an NYFA award for Music Composition, She co-composed music for two Peabody award-winning films. She received The Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She is also a National Women's History Month Honoree and the 2010 recipient of OutMusic's Heritage Award.


Reagon's parents were musical luminaries of the civil rights era. The late Cordell Hull Reagon founded the Freedom Singers, while Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon performed with that group as well as with another a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock.


Lisa Fischer

Fischer has had a four-decade, singing career that's legendary. Raised in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, she emerged from New York's studio scene in the early-1980s and quickly became session singer royalty. Lisa's career revolved around supporting other artists, including her mentor Luther Vandross and a constellation of music legends including Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Bobby McFerrin, Grover Washington, Patti LaBelle, and other major recording artists. Lisa joined the Rolling Stones on tour for the first time for their 1989 Steel Wheels tour, and has graced their stage for 26 years. She now has a new band called Grand Baton.


The breakout success of the Oscar-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013) altered the course of Lisa's musical career. Featuring clips of Lisa's 1991 Grammy-winning R&B hit "How Can I Ease The Pain" and her legendary duet with Mick Jagger on "Gimme Shelter," and glowing testimonials from famous colleagues like Sting, Patti Austin, and Chris Botti, the film showcased her virtuosity and vulnerability, earned her a second Grammy award. "Ms. Fischer has become the unexpected star of Mr. Neville's film," said the New York Times.



This all-female, a capella quintet is from Zimbabwe. It has drawn international acclaim for its inventive performances that range from traditional Zimbabwean songs to Afro Jazz and Gospel. The ensemble's concerts are performed with pure voices, occasionally augmented by minimalistic percussion, traditional instruments such as the Mbira (thumb piano) and authentic dance movements.


The word Nobuntu is an African concept that values humbleness, love, unity, and family from a woman's perspective. The ensemble represents a new generation of young African women singers who celebrate and preserve their culture, beauty, and heritage through art.


The group will sing as an opening act before every performance of the world premiere of Cristal Palace on the banks of the Schuylkill River. The Kimmel Center commissioned the French performance troupe Transe Express to debut Cristal Palace in Philadelphia. This spectacle of gravity-defying engineering will rise into the air, a musician-topped chandelier as the centerpiece to a 360-degree immersive dance party. Transe Express first garnered acclaim in Philadelphia for their work in PIFA 2011, when 200,000 witnessed a "jaw-dropping sensation" as performers dangled hundreds of feet above Broad Street in front of the Kimmel Center.



Inventive Mothers: A Tribute to Frank Zappa

Also joining PIFA 2018 is the U.S. premiere of Inventive Mothers: A Tribute to Frank Zappa, performed by the band Studio Dan. The artists are traveling from Austria to play in the Kimmel Center's SEI Innovation Studio, June 2 at 8:00 p.m. and June 3 at 2:00 p.m.


The name Studio Dan is a play on Frank Zappa's 1978 album, Studio Tam, which was released 40 years ago this year. The ensemble started as a big band but has since morphed into a flexible new musical ensemble to perform in various permutations, depending on the project. The group operates on the borders between diverse subgenres of contemporary music: improvisation, jazz, and (art) rock, to name only a few. Studio Dan is the only Austrian large ensemble belonging neither to the jazz big band mainstream nor to the strictly interpretive contemporary chamber music culture. Instead, the ensemble organically combines composition and improvisation, exploring beyond the bounds of simplistic categories.



Tickets to individual performances are on sale now for Kimmel Center members and start at $19. Public on sale takes place on Tuesday, January 30 at 10 a.m. Please check for the most up-to-date pricing for each show. Tickets can be purchased by visiting or calling 215-893-1999.

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