Essays

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Gian Carlo Menotti’s genius was composing music anybody could sing. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

More music and words become art: Another top 10 from composer Kile Smith

What I’ve learned from classical lyric settings

Composer Kile Smith offered his top-10 list of pop songs that mixed music and words into pure art. Now he’s back for another round, this time with icons of classical music.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 7 minute read
It’s not just about the holiday tradition: the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Lillian DiPiazza in the 2019 ‘Nutcracker.' (Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.)

What happened to ‘Nutcracker’ in the year of COVID?

Why should we tune in to ‘The Nutcracker’ in 2020?

What is the state of ‘The Nutcracker’—beloved holiday tradition and the dance-company equivalent of retail’s Black Friday—in 2020? Melissa Strong considers.
Melissa Strong

Melissa Strong

Essays 6 minute read
Unflappable in the face of the same day: Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti as Nyles and Sarah in Hulu’s ‘Palm Springs.’ (Image courtesy of Hulu.)

What can ‘Palm Springs’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ teach us about surviving the sameness of pandemic life?

Riding the stay-home wave

It was easier to keep spirits up at the start of the pandemic shutdown, when we thought the disruption would be short. Nine months later, Michelle Chikaonda finds unexpected help in two movies about time loops.
Michelle Chikaonda

Michelle Chikaonda

Essays 6 minute read
A young Christina Anthony was excited to vote for the first time in 2008. (Image courtesy of the writer.)

Fighting the model minority myth: Why I talk social justice with my immigrant family

Your voice makes a difference at home

When your family lives with its own complicated experience of oppression, assimilation, and success, talking about racial justice can be especially challenging. But for Christina Anthony, it’s worth it.
Christina Anthony

Christina Anthony

Essays 5 minute read
It wasn’t glamorous, but there was something special about Riverview. (Photo by Alaina Johns.)

Goodbye to Riverview, Philadelphia's movie theater for everyone

It isn't just the screens

Like the city itself, the Riverview movie theater in South Philly was far from perfect. But it formed lasting memories for generations of Philadelphian moviegoers from all walks of life. Stephen Silver remembers.
Stephen Silver

Stephen Silver

Essays 5 minute read
Renting a Torah actually isn't difficult, even in a pandemic: the author and her cousin, Scout, scan the parchment for the right chapter and verse. (Photo by Milt Spivack.)

What happens when the stress of the pandemic leads to a surprising yes?

Bring on the Zoomitzvah

Plan and lead a family bat mitzvah in four days? Anndee Hochman is a writer, not a rabbi, but something about the COVID-19 pandemic made her say yes to her cousin's request.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
Getting to know students in a different way: a CAPA class of young musicians practicing with band director Brian Ewing. (Image courtesy of Brian Ewing.)

Young artists in the pandemic: distance learning at CAPA

Growing as artists, together and apart

Adult artists are not the only ones coping with a radically changed world. At Philly’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, the next generation continues to learn despite the distance. They talk with Isabel Soisson.
Isabel Soisson

Isabel Soisson

Essays 4 minute read
Well-ventilated players: the Philadelphia Orchestra is recording performances at the Mann. (Photo by Jeff Fusco.)

Behind the scenes: How did these three Philly arts-makers pivot to digital?

A brave new season, coming to a screen near you

Any serious Philly arts fan knows by now that local companies and venues aren’t sitting out the pandemic. But big or small, how are they making the shift to distanced performances? Camille Bacon-Smith talks to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Annenberg, and 1812 Productions.
Camille Bacon-Smith

Camille Bacon-Smith

Essays 6 minute read
Educational mores continue to change, just like our schoolrooms, and we should evolve with them. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

Why I love it when teenagers push back: one teacher’s politics in a 2020 classroom

Classrooms change and we should change with them

Michelle Nugent absorbed a commitment to neutrality during her own education as a teacher. But here’s why she’s leaving it behind in today’s classroom.
Michelle Nugent

Michelle Nugent

Essays 5 minute read
A hippie before the term was invented. (Photo: Daisy Fried.)

Remembering writer Jim Quinn, Philadelphia’s apostle of change

He did it his way

In a bleak conformist city where nothing seemed to change, lately everything has changed. The fiercely brilliant critic Jim Quinn deserves some of the credit. Dan Rottenberg remembers his colleague Jim Quinn.
Dan Rottenberg

Dan Rottenberg

Essays 6 minute read