HBCU Festival, Illuminating Birds, The Big Reveal, and Vinyl Tap 215

The BSR Weekly Arts and Culture Roundup, May 18-24, 2023

3 minute read
Diorio poses for a portrait in a black see-through gown and yellow dress against a soft pink backdrop

Catch up on your bird studies this week when the Academy of Natural Sciences opens its newest exhibit Illuminating Birds. Did you know that the Academy has a collection featuring items and artifacts of over 7,000 birds? I was today-years-old when I learned that there are at least that many birds. When you’re done with the ornithology, catch the festivities at the Mann Center’s HBCU Festival, learn about Marian Anderson at AAMP, experience a drag manifesto at the Kimmel, and get down with another edition of Vinyl Tap at the Rotunda.

Stay safe, Philly!

HBCU Festival at the Mann Presented by TD Bank
May 18-20
Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave, Philadelphia

Celebrate Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their culture with a three-day festival at the Mann this weekend. On Thursday, May 18, catch the Grammy-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Morgan State University Choir as they collaborate with the Philadelphia Orchestra to present a special performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Friday hosts a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by the Philadelphia Orchestra, spotlighting music by Black American composer Margaret Bonds. On Saturday, a free all-day festival takes over the entire campus at the Mann, featuring performances by guest artists (some curated by Philly’s own Chill Moody), live HBCU choirs, marching bands, majorettes, and cheer squads. Folks can also check out panel discussions, food trucks, and family-friendly activities.

The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag
Thursday, May 18, 8pm
Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia

Internationally renowned drag queen and visual artist Sasha Velour visits Philly for a night of immersive drag storytelling and live art at the Perelman Theater. The night comes in celebration of her debut book The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag, which weaves memoirs, history, and LGBTQIA+ theory. Signed books will be on sale at the show.

Marian’s Song: A Musical Opera Storytime
Saturday, May 20, 10:30am
African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia

AAMP pairs up with Opera Philadelphia for a free, family-friendly reading of the children’s book When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan about Philly’s own legendary contralto Marian Anderson. Compositions by Florence Price and Margaret Bonds are pieced together with performances by vocalists Megnot Toggia and Cookie Diorio, and Jinhyun Park at the piano. The National Marian Anderson Museum & Historical Society will also display items from their collection, featuring letters, dresses, sheet music, and more.

Illuminating Birds: Drawing as a Way of Knowing
May 20 through October 15, 2023
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

The Academy holds one of the largest and taxonomically complete bird collections in the world, and their latest exhibit that opens this weekend will show off their impressive collection. Visitors can check out artworks, rare books, artifacts, and engage through nature journaling and drawing in this “part gallery and part creative studio” exhibit.

Vinyl Tap 215: Ladies Edition
Saturday, May 20, 12-4:30pm
Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

Join Vinyl Tap 215 for an afternoon of “dope-tastic music, grooves, creativity, community, artistry, commerce, and connection” featuring four women DJs—Lola Kinks, DJ Shala, DJ Jay, and DJ Aura to be specific—and vendors and live art with plenty to offer: aromatherapy and apothecary, ceramics, holistic health services, records, handmade jewelry, and much more.

Above: Cookie Diorio is one of the vocalists lined up for AAMP's Marian's Song. (Photo courtesy of AAMP.)

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