Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Press

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Awarded $123,000 In Grants to Fund Julia Wolfe in April, 2014


Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Awarded $123,000 In Grants to Fund Julia Wolfe in April, 2014

 $77,000 Coming from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Pew Philadelphia Music Project

pew_logo(PHILADELPHIA) Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia announces three major grant awards totaling $123,000 which will fund its largest ever interactive choral project Anthracite Fields. The largest grant, $77,000, is being awarded from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Pew Philadelphia Music Project. $30,000 will be awarded by The Presser Foundation and Mendelssohn Club will receive $16,000 in commissioning support from Meet The Composer through their program COMMISSIONING MUSIC/USA. The total represents the largest sum ever raised by Mendelssohn Club for a single project or commission in the 139-year history of the organization.

BIG SING//Julia Wolfe is a two-year project including a Wolfe commission, ancillary events, audience engagement, and performances. The 45-minute, multi-movement commission will draw its inspiration from folk music and legends related to the life and times of Pennsylvania mine workers. Wolfe’s work will explore the folk idiom, both the layering of stories that create legend and their associated folk tunes, reconstructed into a new, elevated form. Ms. Wolfe will begin researching and writing her commission in 2013 and the majority of community outreach, marketing, and preparation will be in 2014.

The world premiere will take place in spring 2014 in the historic Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, a space with acoustical and physical qualities that complement the folk stories that will comprise the project’s libretto. Wolfe plans to use the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral’s intrinsic acoustical and structural qualities and the sonic power and tapestry of a symphonic-size chorus as core artistic qualities.

Wolfe has a deep interest in folk legends; thus ancillary events will focus on personal narratives. The songs and stories gathered for Anthracite Fields over the next 18 months will form the foundation for a new classical form performed by a symphonic-size chorus of more than 130 voices along with Bang On a Can All-Stars in a chamber/folk ensemble using classical and folk instruments. Research will include folk stories, text from traditional mining songs, personal stories by chorus members and the community at large, as stories extend into local working communities. Other creative partners involved in the research phase include Hal Real’s LiveConnections/World Cafe Live and First Person Arts.

Anthracite Fields  is among some of our most groundbreaking projects,” said to Mendelssohn Club artistic director Alan Harler. “It certainly matches such groundbreaking productions as battle hymns and our work with composer Pauline Oliveros from several years ago.“ Harler added, “We’ll be working not only with Julia Wolfe, an acclaimed finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but also with Bang On A Can All-Stars, one of the foremost musical ensembles in contemporary music.”

Anthracite Fields  was commissioned through Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. Additional support was made possible through the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Alan Harler New Ventures Fund; The Presser Foundation; The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Pew Philadelphia Music Project.

Mendelssohn Club Executive Director Janelle McCoy was elated to share this latest news about such large grant awards for the organization’s most ambitious choral project. “This is wonderful news on every level. Two years in advance, the bulk of funding has been raised, thanks to the generous support of these funders. Now we can focus on expanding the project and possibly recording it.”

This major funding news for Anthracite Fields  follows an announcement earlier this month that Mendelssohn Club was receiving a PNC Arts Alive grant of $25,000 to support the chorus’ upcoming BIG SING//Schubert, scheduled for July, 2012.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

Established in 2005, the center houses seven funding initiatives of the Pew Charitable Trusts dedicated to supporting area artists and arts and heritage organizations. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has awarded $858,430 through the Pew Philadelphia Music Project to nine music organizations in the Philadelphia area, including the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. Since its creation in 1989, PMP has funded 324 project grants totaling more than $15.7 million.

“These projects will engage audiences with music in inventive ways, expanding the conventions of musical production and presentation,” said PMP interim director Bill Adair. “Our 2012 grantees reflect the dynamism and diversity of Philadelphia’s music scene, providing opportunities to experience music from many different genres and parts of the world.”

Meet The Composer

Meet The Composer is a national organization founded in 1974 that has revolutionized the environment for composers in this country. Its mission is to increase opportunities for composers of every style of music by fostering the creation, performance, dissemination, and appreciation of their work. In so doing, Meet The Composer has radically expanded the repertoire of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, creating a legacy for the music of our time—over 1,500 new works have been added since MTC’s first commissioning program was launched in 1988.

“For nearly forty years Meet The Composer has brought electrifying new music and its creators to people across the nation,” says Ed Harsh, Meet The Composer’s President. “The remarkable cast of new works and musicians we have supported through this year’s grantmaking programs will thrill audiences with their variety and energy.”

Meet The Composer’s core programs include Commissioning Music/USA; Cary New Music Performance Fund; Van Lier Fellowships; Music Alive (in partnership with the League of American Orchestras); and MetLife Creative Connections. The impact of these programs is felt in all 50 states and involves approximately 300 composers annually, representing the full spectrum of contemporary American culture and genres such as classical, opera, jazz, folk, ethnic, electronic, and more. Meet The Composer is currently engaged in a number of special projects designed to further its vision—that composers should become an integral part of the cultural life and creative output of their communities, and that their music find broad, new audiences and benefit communities across the country.

The Presser Foundation

The Presser Foundation operates under the will and Deeds of Trust created by its founder, Theodore Presser. It is one of the few foundations in the United States dedicated solely to the support of music and music education.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

One of America’s oldest choruses, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performs choral music to create a shared transcendent experience among its singers and audiences. Through the excellence of its adventurous performances, Mendelssohn Club advances the development of choral music as an art form. For information about Mendelssohn Club’s concerts and programs, or to order tickets for the 2011-2012 season, visit You can also find Mendelssohn Club on Facebook at


Janelle McCoy, Executive Director
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

Edward McNally, Above The Fold PR

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