Com­ing up in Philly Music: Andrea Clearfield cel­e­brates 35 years of musi­cal salons

2 minute read
Andrea Clearfield has been hosting The Salon for 35 years. (Photo by Ryan Collerd, courtesy The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.)
Andrea Clearfield has been hosting The Salon for 35 years. (Photo by Ryan Collerd, courtesy The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.)

The monthly musical salon hosted by Philadelphia composer Andrea Clearfield has become a major institution for Philadelphians interested in musical events that push against traditional barriers. Clearfield has responded to the pandemic restrictions and limitations by turning her creation into a “zalon” with the participants scattered all over the United States.

All over the place

Clearfield is keeping busy with 10 performances scheduled for the first half of 2021, most of them premieres. Her salon reflects the freewheeling, wide-ranging musical interests that characterize her work.

The nine items on the program for the January Zalon! are a good sample of the kind of music the salon has been presenting since she founded it in 1986. One entry combines a new song, composed by the singer, with songs by Mahler and the 19th-century African-British composer Samuel Taylor-Coleridge. The other items include Indian classical music played on the harmonium, Catalan art songs from the 16th and 21st centuries, an oboe solo, and an Italian-born singer performing their own work. The evening will end with poet Sienna Craig reading from her home in New Hampshire, accompanied by Clearfield improvising on the piano in Philadelphia.

Clearfield’s salon is modeled on the musical salons that played an important role in the musical life of the 19th century. It places music in a setting that’s less restrictive than the modern concert hall. Its devotees always note that the attendees take off their shoes before entering and most of them sit on the floor. A zalon can’t duplicate the socializing of the salon, but it can bring some of its adventurous informality to people who would like to sample something different without leaving their own living rooms.

What, When, Where, and Accessibility:

Andrea Clearfield will present the next edition of her Zalon! on Sunday, January 24, with a welcome at 7pm and the start of the salon at 7:30pm. The live Zoom meeting event is limited to 300 people, with an on-demand video of the zalon available one week after the event. The event is free but donations are requested. Find out more online.

Image Description: Composer Andrea Clearfield poses in front of a piano and music sheets, looking to her left.

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