"Mummies Outside the Box" and Inside the Museum
As Relâche New Music Ensemble Accompanies Silent Films at the Penn Museum
Sunday, January 25, 2015
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Museum Offers Mummy Tour at 2:00 pm; Ensemble Performs at 3:00 pm
PHILADELPHIA, January 2015—The spotlight is on new music, old movies, and very old mummies Sunday afternoon, January 25 at the Penn Museum, 3260 South Street in Philadelphia, as Relâche, Philadelphia's internationally renowned new music ensemble, presents "Mummies Outside the Box." The 3:00 pm program is the second in a three part Relâche-in-Residence series, Music for the Mystery of Silents.
To get concert-goers in the spirit, the Penn Museum offers a special optional mummy-focused gallery tour, "Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt," with Paul Verhelst, University of Pennsylvania Egyptology graduate student, at 2:00 pm.
Relâche concert tickets are just $15 ($10 for Museum members), in advance or at the door, while supplies last. Concert guests with tickets may arrive early to join the 2:00 pm gallery tour, or enter and explore the Museum's international galleries—including galleries featuring its extensive ancient Egyptian collections, The Egyptian Mummy: Secrets and Science, and In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies—beginning 2:00 pm on the day of the concert. January 25 tickets may be purchased at the Penn Museum online calendar (www.penn.museum/calendar).
The featured silent film is The Eyes of the Mummy, a 1918 film by the German director Ernst Lubitsch, starring Pola Negri, released in the US in 1922. As live accompaniment to the film Relâche premieres a new score by Philadelphia composer Mike Stambaugh. Stambaugh has treated this period film of the horror/mystery genre with serious and frightening music (except for just once in a while when he was overcome by what can only look humorous to us now, almost a century later). Prior to the film the strings, woodwinds, keyboard and percussion of Relâche perform a work they commissioned and then recorded on their newest CD: Waiting in the Tall Grass, a rock-oriented musical mystery by New York composer Galen Brown. To end the performance Relâche performs Panache, its commission from Wisconsin's Joseph Koykkar. Joe wrote mystery in his middle movement Noir and surrounded it with two of high-spirits: Panache and Elan. Panache has been recorded by Relâche, who also performed it three times in November for its Dickinson College residency, in a version choreographed for student dancers.
Michael Stambaugh is an up and coming young composer with degrees from Temple University and the University of Delaware, currently on the piano faculty of the Settlement Music School. His works have been played by the Temple Composer's Orchestra and the UD Graduate String Quartet among others, and he was commissioned by Mélomanie in 2013. Relâche is proud to be the second professional group to commission Stambaugh, and this is a major project—Eyes of the Mummy requires a whole hour of music, performed with an intermission.
Stambaugh's works are characterized by intricate structures, often featuring solos or small groups of instruments. Unlike his previous shorter pieces, Stambaugh is creating what he calls a musical quilt to score Eyes of the Mummy. Themes and styles, including rock and jazz, enter and depart in different contexts and instrumentations, ranging in emotion from deathly serious to light-hearted and ironic. His earlier piece for chamber orchestra, Tiptoeing Dinosaur Meets Overly-Dramatic Action Movie Star, is another example of Stambaugh's free-wheeling imagination.
The film concert experience is presented in the Penn Museum's recently renovated Widener Hall.
Relâche is a new music ensemble that for over thirty years has maintained an international reputation as a leader in commissioning and performing the innovative music of our time. Relâche has a unique sound—flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, viola, piano, bass and percussion, 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 consistently offered world-class performances and presentations of music by leading American and international composers and artists. To date, Relâche has performed more than 600 concerts in the Greater Philadelphia area, around the country and the globe, including residency, festival, and touring appearances in South America, Japan, and Eastern and Western Europe. The Ensemble boasts a touring-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, and Lois V Vierk. Relâche has released seven CDs to date, from Relâche on Edge (1991), to Comix Trips (2014).
"Music for the Mystery of Silents" concludes on May 3, with "Les Mystères Français" featuring the 1912 silent mystery "Roches de Kador" with a score commissioned from French composer Regis Huby.
About the Penn Museum
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 Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, with extended hours the first Wednesday of each month (to 8:00 pm). Closed Mondays and holidays. Guests with day-of Relâche tickets may explore the Museum between 2:00 pm and performance time at 3:00 pm. Regular Museum admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); free for U.S. Military; $10 for children and full-time students with ID; free to 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. The Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000.
Photos, top to bottom: Ptolemaic or Roman Period Funerary Mask(after 300 B.C.E.), from the Egyptian collections at the Penn Museum. (Penn Museum Object 53-20-1a) Photo: Penn Museum. Relâche New Music Ensemble performs in Widener Hall at the Penn Museum. Photo: Penn Museum.