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Relâche New Music Ensemble Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Weekend Concert at Penn Museum

It’s official: Relâche, Philadelphia’s new music ensemble with an international reputation for commissioning and performing innovative music of our time, has reached a milestone anniversary. The ensemble, which melds Western classical traditions with jazz, rock, electronica, world music, and more, concludes its in-residence season at the Penn Museum June 23 and 24, with a weekend-long 40th birthday celebration of concerts and special programming.

As always, guests to the concerts, presented in the Penn Museum’s Widener Hall, may arrive early and enjoy time exploring the Museum’s international galleries.  Cost for each concert is $20 general; $15 for seniors; $10 for Penn Museum members; $5 for students with ID, with an accompanying student free.  (A ticket may be used to enter and explore the Museum galleries any time after 1:00 pm on the day of the concert.) Admission is free for the 10:30 am June 23 Anniversary Panel with composers-in-residence, but does not include Museum admission. Tickets may be purchased online in advance of the programs (www.penn.museum/calendar), or at the Museum on the day of the performance, while supplies last.

The 40th Anniversary Weekend, made possible in part from a grant by the Presser Foundation, features three programs:

Saturday, June 23, 10:30 am
Looking Back and Ahead: 40 years of new music in Philadelphia, plus what’s next?

Relâche’s history and the state of new music in Philadelphia is explored by panelists Kile Smith, Guy Klucevsek, Mary Ellen Childs, Andrea Clearfield, Anna Weesner, Thomas Albert, Joseph Kasinskas, Cynthia Folio, Jay Fluellen, Kyle Gann, and Relâche co-founders Joseph Franklin and Joe Showalter, moderated by Relâche co-artistic director Lloyd Shorter. The panel discusses their association with the ensemble, and their thoughts on new music in Philadelphia past, present, and future. The program includes performances of works-in-progress by Relâche’s young composers-in-residence: Erica Ball’s Riding the EL, Joshua Hey’s Recreation, and Mike Stambaugh’s The Gerontocrat. The program is co-sponsored by American Composers Forum, Philadelphia Chapter.

Saturday, June 23, 2:00 pm
Relâche Anniversary CONCERT I: Older Works Still New

Music commissioned by Relâche in its earlier years, as well as the world premiere of composer Kile Smith’s Adieu, Adieu in memory of composer Romulus Franceschini, an early advocate for the ensemble, are featured. The new commission is supported by the Musical Fund Society. The concert includes three pieces by Guy Klucevsek: The Swan and the Vulture (2014), Little Big Top (2014), and Haywire Rag (a Waltz)(2010), with the former two pieces featuring Guy on the accordion; Paul A. Epstein’s Chamber Music: Three Songs from Home (1986) – a collaboration with American novelist and poet Toby Olson; Mary Ellen Childs’ Parterre, Part 1(1988); Joseph Kasinska’s The Rider, from Demeter’s Lament (1991); selections from William Duckworths’s Simple Songs about Sex and War (1984); selections from Fred Ho’s Contradiction, Please! The Revenge of Charlie Chan (1992), and Thomas Albert’s A Maze (with Grace) (1975).

Sunday, June 24, 2:00 pm
Relâche Anniversary CONCERT II: More Recent Works Still New

Works commissioned in Relâche’s more recent history are performed in the final concert of the weekend: Trax(1997, rev. 2002) by longtime Relâche keyboardist Andrea Clearfield; Eric Moe’s 8 Point Turn (2001); Paul Lansky’s Comix Trips (2008-09); two selections from Kyle Gann’s The Planets (1994-2008) “Venus” and “Mars”; music from TSE (Persephone) (1994) by the famed minimalist composer Philip Glass; Arturo Marquez’s Octeto(1996); and Leslie Savoy Burrs’ Voyeuristic Absurdities (2001).

Relâche Concerts at the Penn Museum

New international music and the international galleries and collections at the Penn Museum have been meeting since November 2013, when Relâche began its concerts-in-residence program at the Penn Museum, using the Museum’s new Widener Hall. Since then, the Ensemble has performed two or three concerts a year, often accompanying silent films, and sometimes influenced by the Museum’s collections or special exhibitions. A January 2015 concert, Mummies Outside the Box, was a musical bow to the Museum’s ancient Egyptian collections, and mummies. In February 2016, the Ensemble offered up a Turkish-inspired concert in honor of the Museum’s special exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas.. In October 2016, Relache performer/composer Chuck Holdeman was inspired to write Sumer Redux, a musical response to the Museum’s ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, and stories. Philip Jones, Associate Curate and Keeper, Babylonian section joined the ensemble for the world premiere of the piece, serving as one of the performance’s narrators.

About Relâche

Relâche is a new music ensemble that for 40 years has maintained an international reputation as a leader in commissioning and performing the innovative music of our time. With flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, viola, piano, bass and percussion, the Ensemble offers a unique sound and performs works that are neither classical, nor popular, but somewhere in between—a melding of Western classical traditions with jazz, rock, electronica, world music, and more. Among the oldest continuously operating non-profit organizations and chamber ensembles dedicated to contemporary music in the United States, Relâche has performed more than 600 concerts in the Greater Philadelphia area, around the country and the globe, including touring appearances in South America, Japan, and Eastern and Western Europe. The Ensemble boasts a tour-ready repertoire of over 50 pieces and a repertory library of over 400 works. Relâche commissions include works by Robert Ashley, Kitty Brazelton, John Cage, Uri Caine, Fred Frith, Kyle Gann, Philip Glass, Fred Ho, Michael Nyman, Pauline Oliveros, Bobby Previte, George Russell, Somei Satoh, Gavin Bryars, Paul Lansky, Heath Allen, Mark Hagerty, and Lois V Vierk. Relâche has released seven CDs to date, from Relâche on Edge (1991), to Comix Trips(2014).


The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind’s collective heritage.

The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn’s campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA’s Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays June 20 through September 5 until 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM outdoor concerts offered. Closed Mondays and holidays. Museum admission is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); $10 for children (6 to 17) and full-time students with ID; $2 ACCESS and Museums for All cardholders (up to four family members per card); free for active U.S. Military and their families, June through August, free for STAMP cardholders; free to Penn Museum Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger.

Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop offers a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.

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