January 2014

Philadelphia Distilling

Art of Food — Produced by Monica Rogozinski

This month Art of Food visits the first craft distillery to open in Philadelphia since before prohibition. Philadelphia Distilling combines local ingredients, traditional methods and cutting-edge technology to create smooth liquors. The distillery opened in 2005 making Bluecoat American Dry Gin. Since then, they have expanded to make the first legal absinthe on the East Coast in over one hundred years, along with Chesapeake Bay seasoned vodka, Pennsylvania Rye Vodka and three different types of Corn Whiskey. Friday Arts joins the master distillers in the process of creating handcrafted, artisanal liquors.

Songs of Faith, Courage, and Consolation

Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

Thomas Lloyd has directed the combined choral and vocal studies program for Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges since 1996. He has also served as Artistic Director of the Bucks County Choral Society since 2000. Lloyd is also Director of Music at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. He was recently the only choral conductor in a list of area arts leaders named as a “Creative Connector” by Leadership Philadelphia, a program of WHYY and the Knight Foundation, for his extensive work in arranging collaborative performances with artists both in the region and around the world.

Dr. Lourin Plant is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Rowan University and an accomplished baritone. He is also well-known for his study and writings on the history of African American spirituals. Lloyd is white and Plant is African American. These two musicians recently came together to create a program on the history of African American spirituals with the hopes of bringing this genre of music to a wider and more diverse audience.

In October, Friday Arts went to the campus of Haverford College to interview the two, while they were hard at work on the pieces that were presented in a concert that was held on Sunday, October 27th, 2013. They shared a wealth of knowledge about the spirituals beginnings and how they have evolved over the years to the present. And, we had the pleasure of sitting in on their rehearsal. We also travelled to Bucks County to shoot a full rehearsal with the Bucks County Choral Society and the other diverse, very talented soloists and singing groups that were part of the performance. We all walked away with a greater appreciation of just how beautiful and meaningful this genre of music truly is.

Whitenight and the Wagner

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

The Wagner Institute of Free Science has stood at 1700 W. Montgomery Ave in Philadelphia for over 150 years – it has remained largely unchained for most of its life. The Executive Director, Susan Glassman, tells us that the Wagner is like a museum of a museum. Central to its mission is the “free” admission to the displays, dioramas and lectures it still maintains and offers. One of these lectures finds John Whitenight (his real name) holding forth on his book, UNDER GLASS: A Victorian Obsession, an encyclopedic compendium of the Victorian “parlor shade” (or, in 2013, what we commonly refer to as a “glass dome”). In this lecture, Whitenight implores his audience to travel back to the 1800′s (not too difficult surrounded by the Wagner lecture hall) when mourning was represented by weaving into the shape of a flower the hair of your dead beloved, and amusement was found in robot birds that sang real songs and a monkey automaton that really smoked. Whitenight and the Wagner remind you of a time in Philadelphia that these and many more curiosities could be found under glass domes in your parlor or behind a vitrine in your local museum, all of them waiting to give comfort to those curious about the wonders of Victorian technology and the state of the natural world.

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