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Breath – The Notes Unplayed

June 30, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

$10 – $20

Discover the possibilities of a pause, a breath, and notes unplayed in this extraordinary music and poetry event featuring the internationally acclaimed artists Dan Blacksberg and Tyshawn Sorey, playing together for the first time in 10 years, Salina Kuo, percussionist and composer, and Airea D. Matthews, Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate.

Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America is an exhibition of new works by 20 artists exploring themes of equality, free speech, and other tenets of democracy. The conversation continues with Breath – The Notes Unplayed, where we will listen to the words, notes, breaths and rests of masterful works by four of Philadelphia’s most talented artists, creating space to reflect on the magic of taking a moment to breathe.

Ticket holders for the performance are invited to experience PAFA’s installation of Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America before the panel, from 6:00 – 6:50 pm.


Friday, June 30, 2023


7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Museum doors open at 6:00 pm


Exhibition 6:00 pm – 6:50 pm: Historic Landmark Building at 118 N. Broad Street, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Performance 7:00 – 8:30 pm: Rhoden Arts Center, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at 128 N. Broad Street, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts


$20 General Admission / $10 PAFA & AAMP Members / $10 Community Access

Register Now

Image: Saya Woolfalk, detail from We Emerge at the Sunset of Your Ideology, 2023, currently on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Featured Artists

Dan Blacksberg is a leading voice in Philadelphia’s music community and a living master of klezmer trombone. Through performance, composition, and improvisation, he creates new territories to explore inside and across genres while forging new pathways between tradition and innovation. As a teacher and community music leader, he builds up newer and older generations of musicians to become empowered and joyous rabble-rousers. His 4-day, Creative Music concert event Encounters @ The Mothership (2019) joined newer voices with established masters like Susan Alcorn and Marshall Allen in intimate groups and overwhelming spectacles.

He’s been honored as an Artist in Residence at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts (2019) for which composed the jazz-klezmer suite Name of the Sea, and as a Pew Fellow in the Arts (2012). He received critical acclaim for his jazz trio albums Bit Heads (No Business, 2008), Perilous Architecture (2013), and groundbreaking Hasidic Doom Metal album Deveykus (Tzadik, 2013). In 2017 he released Radiant Others, the first klezmer album to feature the trombone as the lead instrument.

Salina Kuo is a songwriter and self-taught guzhengist, with a background in classical percussion. On guzheng, Kuo recently played in the Public Orchestra, and as half of River Full of Fruit, a Chinese-American folk duo that combines song, improvisation, and poetry. As part of this duo they have also participated in Ensemble Evolution, the summer program from the International Contemporary Ensemble. Kuo plays vibraphone and leads an alt-rnb project, St. John’s Wort, and is an active member of Philadelphia’s free improv scene.

She holds a B.M. in music education from Temple University. There she studied orchestral reportoire, jazz vibraphone, latin percussion, and drumset. She teaches elementary + middle school general music, private drumset + piano lessons, and volunteers with Girls Rock Philly. She recently performed at the Oh My Ears New Music Festival, Toronto Creative Music Lab, and Steve Weiss Mallet Festival.

Airea D. Matthews’ first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which received the prestigious 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Matthews is also the author of Bread and Circus (Scribner US and Picador UK, 2023), a memoir-in-verse that is a bold poetic reckoning with the realities of class and race and their intergenerational effects.

For her writing, Matthews earned a 2020 Pew Fellowship as well as the 2017 Margaret Walker For My People award. In 2016, she received both the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Ireland, The New York Times, Georgia Review, Callaloo, Gulf Coast, Best American Poetry, American Poet, and elsewhere. In 2022, she was named Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate. She is an associate professor and co-directs the poetry program at Bryn Mawr College, where she was presented the Lindback Distinguished Teaching award.

Tyshawn Sorey is a Newark-born composer and multi-instrumentalist celebrated for his incomparable virtuosity, effortless mastery and memorization of highly complex scores, and an extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work. Sorey has composed works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble, soprano Julia Bullock, PRISM Quartet, JACK Quartet, TAK Ensemble, the McGill-McHale Trio, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, Alarm Will Sound, the Louisville Orchestra, and tenor Lawrence Brownlee with Opera Philadelphia in partnership with Carnegie Hall, as well as for countless collaborative performers. Sorey has received support for his creative projects from The Jerome Foundation, The Shifting Foundation, Van Lier Fellowship, and was named a 2017 MacArthur fellow and a 2018 United States Artists Fellow.

Sorey has released twelve critically acclaimed recordings that feature his work as a composer, co-composer, improviser, multi-instrumentalist, and conceptualist. His latest release, Pillars (Firehouse 12 Records, 2018), has been praised by Rolling Stone as “an immersive soundworld… sprawling, mysterious… thrilling” and has been named as one of BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction 2018 albums of the year.

In 2012, he was selected as one of nine composers for the Other Minds Festival, where he exchanged ideas with such like-minded peers as Ikue Mori, Ken Ueno, and Harold Budd. In 2013, Jazz Danmark invited him to serve as the Danish International Visiting Artist. He was also a 2015 recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award. Sorey has taught and lectured on composition and improvisation at Columbia University, The New England Conservatory, The Banff Centre, University of Michigan, International Realtime Music Symposium, Harvard University, Hochschule für Musik Köln, Berklee College of Music, University of Chicago, and The Danish Rhythmic Conservatory. Sorey joined the composition faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall of 2020.


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118-128 N Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102 United States
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