Friday Arts January 2018

    A Passion For Music
    Produced by: Karen Smyles

    The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra is the tri-state region’s premier youth orchestra organization for gifted, young, classical musicians, and one of the oldest and most highly regarded youth orchestra organiza­tions in the United States. For 77 years, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization has been providing professional-caliber musical experiences to young instrumental­ists, while thrilling discriminating audiences in the Greater Philadelphia region and across the globe.

    The organization has six programs: Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO), Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO), Philadelphia Young Musicians Orchestra (PYMO), Bravo Brass, Philadelphia Region Youth String Music (PRYSM), and Tune Up Philly, an El Sistema inspired program.

    Ranging in age from 6 to 21 years, the musicians of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization are selected by competitive audition and come from a 70-plus-mile radius of Philadelphia encompassing nearly 20 counties within Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Through advanced orchestra repertoire, students are challenged to perform at pro­fessional levels, to strive for advanced musi­cianship, and to achieve superior technical, musical, and personal application.

    Friday Arts sits down with Louis Scaglione, President and Music Director, at The Kimmel Center for a behind the scenes look at why this program has been so successful. We talk with conductors from all divisions and meet a few young rising stars in the music world.

    Metropolis Farms
    Producer: Monica Rogozinski

    Metropolis Farms is not only the first indoor hydroponic vertical farm in Philadelphia, it’s the first vegan-certified farm in the nation and the only known vertical farm to operate on the second floor of a building. A vegan farm means no pesticides, herbicides, animal manure and animal bi-products. They are located in South Philadelphia. Jack Griffin (president) and Lee Weingrad (partner) share how their farm works and its importance to Philadelphia in how it can solve food scarcity problems. Their proprietary Revolution Vertical Farming Technology ™ is ultra-efficient, environmentally-responsible and commercially scalable. Their farms are highly adaptive and virtually eliminate many of the health business and environmental risks that make conventional and greenhouse farming so expensive. Their farms can operate profitably for both smaller-artisan farms (Flash Farms) as well as large-scale operations (Super Farms). Their farming systems use 95 to 98 percent less water and 82 percent less energy than traditional farms. Their cost-effective technology allows them to grow more than an acre of produce in a 36 square feet of space, over 1,200 times the herbs and vegetables of an outdoor farm per square foot. They bring great food, good jobs and opportunities to local communities. Their method of farming is far better for the environment than convention, greenhouse or traditional organic farming. They use less than 2% of the water and 12% of the energy required by conventional and traditional organic farming. Finally, they recycle the nutrients they use, unlike conventional farms that allow their fertilizer to seep into the water table.

    Art and the SS United States
    Producer: Michael O’Reilly

    When her father died, Susan Gibbs remembered looking through the years of magazines saved in his garage. Seeing her grandfather on the cover of TIME magazine with a picture of the SS United States naturally made her wonder why. It turns out her grandfather was William Francis Gibbs, the visionary nautical designer who ushered the SS United States into existence, at a time when shipbuilding was like spaceship building. While she is now Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy (the organization credited with keeping the ship from ending up on the scrap heap), growing up, her father never talked about his father’s connection to the ship. Luisa Meshekoff has much the same story. Her father, Edward, was an artist who worked with the top design firms in New York City but she never knew that he had designed artwork for the vaunted ocean liner until he was contacted by the Conservancy about murals he had painted. He was never able to come aboard, but was honored for his contribution before he passed away. Luisa, an accomplished dancer, strives to continue to honor him by conducting what is almost a musical and terpsichorean seance: dancing tango to a live quartet in a decaying ballroom on the SS United States. A ship which has not seen that kind of dancing nor heard that kind of music in almost 50 years. On that very dance floor, a former passenger, Caroline Savage, tells us, her sister danced with a movie star’s son. Caroline brings to this segment archival footage from 1959 that her father shot, that is composited onto present day views of the ship in the exact same locations. During the writing of A MAN AND HIS SHIP, author Steven Ujifusa expressed surprise at how many people started coming forward when they found out he was writing about the ship that still holds the world record for the fastest Atlantic crossing. People cared about this ship, he says, in a spirit that is not often generated by inanimate objects. After 20 years on the Philadelphia waterfront, Crystal Cruises has come forward to study whether she might be pressed into service to sail once more for an entirely new generation of passenger. If that happens, the “seance” we captured could well be considered a christening.

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