This week is a busy one as businesses around the Delaware Valley start to reopen now that all of Pennsylvania’s counties are in the yellow or green phase as ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf. Though Pennsylvania as a whole was not as hard-hit as its neighboring states, COVID-19 remains a threat, so most events that would usually draw large crowds are still virtual. It is still unclear what moving into the green phase will mean for a fall season of theater, live concerts and sports, but we’ll keep you updated.
Despite the quarantine, The Philadelphia Orchestra has forged ahead with a robust schedule of high-profile virtual events. This week is no exception. The HearNOW: An At-Home Gala concert broadcasts live via the orchestra’s website and Facebook page on Saturday, June 20 at 8 p.m. Renee Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Nicola Benedetti, Valerie Coleman and Steve Martin are the stars who will appear. The orchestra’s music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will host. Coleman is set to debut “Seven O’Clock Shout,” a tribute to the nation’s frontline workers. This concert was rescheduled from June 6 in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. The HearNOW concert is free, but you can donate to the orchestra here.
Youth in harmony
The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra celebrates its 80th anniversary with the online program “An Evening of Harmony.” Originally conceived as a gala scheduled for March, it has been reconfigured as a virtual celebration due to COVID-19. It’s now set to be broadcast live on the orchestra’s Facebook page on Friday, June 19 at 8 p.m. According to the organization’s website, the evening will focus on “reflection, harmony and community unity.”
Ona “Oney” Judge Staines escaped bondage in 1796 while living in Philadelphia as one of then-president George Washington’s slaves. Washington spent much of the rest of his life trying to recapture her without success. The Museum of the American Revolution is presenting a live 20-minute performance of “Freedom on the Horizon” with actress/historical interpreter Natassia Parker portraying Judge. It takes place on their Facebook page on Friday, June 19 at 9 a.m. It’s followed by an Instagram Live Q&A session with Parker and Tyler Putnam, the museum’s manager of gallery interpretation. You can read more about Judge’s life here. The African American Museum of Philadelphia is hosting the Juneteenth 2020 Virtual Festival: Celebrate the Diaspora on Saturday, June 20 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. online. Performers include the African Cultural Alliance of North America and a poetry reading and a conversation with Kamau Ware of Black Gotham. The event is free with registration.
The National Queer Theater moves its second annual Criminal Queerness festival online with performances, panels and readings scheduled through June 29. Highlights include the American debut of She He Me” by transgender Jordanian playwright Amahl Kouri, “Maid In America” by Migguel Anggelo and a panel on LGBTQ rights in Latin America moderated by Marlène Ramírez-Cancio of The Hemispheric Institute.
For some of us, it’s been a difficult time as we’ve been separated from parents or grandparents who may be at greater risk of falling ill from the coronavirus. Fortunately, moving to yellow and green in many Delaware Valley counties means that we can now reunite if we feel safe. One of the ways to do so while celebrating dads this weekend is through outdoor dining. Now that restaurants can serve outside, even in areas not in green just yet, you can give your dad that most meaningful gift – your time. To ease your mind, here are the safety guidelines for outdoor restaurants in Philadelphia. If that doesn’t seem feasible for you and your father, you can always try a virtual cooking class. There’s a locally hosted Bourbon and Bacon class and a list of online classes from around the world.
Craft beer delivery is also a gift some dads can truly appreciate. You can buy it by the case from Beverages2U, a father-daughter company based in Allentown, Pa. And if your dad, granddad or stepdad is an avid reader and interested in further exploring issues of race and policing that the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have exposed, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has compiled a Black Liberation reading list. One personal recommendation: “Men We Reaped,” the searing memoir by two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.
Lights, camera, WHYY!
If you’re a parent, you’re likely dreading a summer trying to entertain your kids given lingering concerns about vacations and summer camps. WHYY is offering virtual summer classes for children from 7-12th grades in Introduction to Photography and Photojournalism, starting on July 6 and in Stop-Motion and Animation for grades 6-12, starting on July 20. Both classes are fee-based, but partial and full scholarships are available. And the best news is, no fancy equipment is needed — anything that takes pictures works for the photography class, so either a phone or a tablet is fine for the animation class.
This weeks’ Hot Ten comes courtesy of the bluegrass/hip-hop outfit Gangstagrass whose new single “Freedom” is out Friday, and whose new album “No Time for Enemies” is coming August 14. You may know them best as the group who recorded the theme song to the acclaimed HBO show “Justified.” Now on their sixth studio release, they’ve merged two unlikely genres for a unique sound. Both emcees, Dolio the Sleuth and R-SON The Voice of Reason, are from Philly. Here’s their “Hot Ten” list of freedom songs.
“Way before the chant of “No Justice, No Peace” this song laid out the case against just wishing for peace if you don’t have justice.”
“A memorial to a writer of protest songs, sung by one of the 20th century’s greatest activist artists for justice. Robeson inspired the world with calls for racial justice and for workers’ rights. Here he is singing the song to Scottish miners, building international bonds of solidarity.”
“The lyrics could easily serve as a manifesto for every fight against the hierarchical hypocrisy of systematic racism, and what would need to be achieved in order to end it.”
“Being Black in America is a tale of being born in confinement and transforming it into freedom. This song was born from minds that thought they fought for freedom when they fought for gain. Jimi reminds those ghosts what freedom sounds like.”
“No one will know this one but for a long time in a small community of artists in D.C., this felt like the most important song about freedom.
The newest song on this list, released Juneteenth, our personal anthem during these times of struggle and, hopefully, the bringing about of real and lasting change.
PBS has long given exposure to documentaries on race, policing, civil rights and more. They’ve now put together a “Race in America” list of some of the most compelling movies you can watch on-demand for free and they’re available both on our website or via the PBS/WHYY video app. Click here for instructions on how to set-up the PBS/WHYY video app on a Roku device and here for instructions on getting the PBS/WHYY video app on an Apple TV device. Here are a few highlights:
Keep checking with “Things To Do” as we continue to provide our picks for entertainment and culture during the industry’s COVID-19 hiatus. Please consult our coronavirus updates to keep up with the latest information regionally.