Every Wednesday until August 29th, from 5-8pm, the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosts a live music series in its verdant courtyard garden as part of its Summer Nights Music Series. Located at 3260 South Street, at the intersection of Spruce and 33rd, the lush and stately museum garden will make you feel like you have been transported away from the city to another time and place – making it the perfect setting for the diverse musical acts featured by the series which come from all over the globe.
For a mere $5, you get entry to the garden concert, as well as the museum’s intriguing Maya 2012 exhibit! Beverages (alcoholic and non) and light snacks are available from the Pepper Mill Cafe’s garden bar.
Here’s the lineup for the rest of the Wednesdays this summer:
July 25 Magdaliz and Her Trio Crisol - A Latin ensemble dedicated to the interpretation of folk and traditional music from all over Latin America and the Caribbean,
August 1 Incendio - A Latin world fusion group from Los Angeles that balances romantic Spanish guitar with rock-style energy
August 8 Minas - A Brazilian duo with an impressive grasp of awide range of Brazilian musical idioms.
August 15 La Pequeña Marimba Internacional - A family band focused on Guatemalan folk music
August 22 Animus - An exciting fusion of Greek, Rock, Middle Eastern, Blues, Indian, Jazz, African, and more.
August 29 West Philadelphia Orchestra - An eclectic ensemble of Philly’s finest and wildest musicians playing the frenetic, propulsive rhythms of Eastern Europe.
How cheap we talkin’: Your $5 entry fee includes museum admission. (It’s free for Penn Museum members and PennCard holders).
Why this will impress your date: Completed in 1915, the Chinese Rotunda at the museum is one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the United States, housing one of the finest collections of monumental Chinese art in the country, covering some 4,000 years of Chinese history.
Score extra points: By knowing the difference between congas and bongos.
The inside game: Discounted Parking ($10) is available in Garage 7, adjacent to the Museum, after 5:00 pm.
Next date: Wednesdays 5-8pm, through August 29th, 2012 The night that we were there, an eclectic fusion group called Animus played. We could hear the music from the street well before entering the museum courtyard through its imposing iron gate, but upon entering the grounds what first caught our eye was a small group gathered around a man hunched over a long trough, whose watery surface he was speckling with paint. The man’s name was Richard Aldorasi and he was making silk scarves with an Ottoman/Islamic art technique called “marbling.” And if you wanted, for $15 you could pick out the color and design and watch him create one for you right on the spot.
We watched for awhile, then moved over to the drink table. For an event at prestigious Penn University, the selection left much to be desired, particularly in the beer department. Bud Lime, Penn? Really?
After turning our noses up at the drink selection, we wandered through the garden and sat down on the steps to watch Animus. The group was comprised of only five musicians, but at least ten instruments: We spotted accordian, flute, congas, bongos, djembe, oud, a full drum kit, gourds, guitar, electric bass, and additional unidenitfied percussion. It was a complete melange of world styles and influences – at times the rhythms rose to an intensity that felt incongruous with the somewhat subdued atmosphere at the event, but I think that grogginess was the fault of the oppressive heat that night. Walking around was hard enough, let alone dancing, so most of the attendees remained seated at tables shaded by umbrellas, or along the back wall under the trees. However, there was one woman dressed in a long skirt adorned with bells who mesmerized everyone watching her with the fluid motions of her hips and arms as she twirled and shimmied through the entire set.
When the band took a break, we wandered into the museum. The Penn Museum is a world class museum and research institution that houses over 1 million archaeological and ethnographic artifacts from all over the world. The building itself is a remarkable cavernous Beaux Arts structure, that is apparently only one-third of the size of its original design. Only the third floor collection was open to visitors that evening, but it contained Chinese, Japanese, Greek, and Egyptian artifacts. The dominant feature in each of the rooms was its large statues, including a giant bust of an Egyptian labeled simply: “Head of a Colossal Statute of a King.” Indeed. When we reached the Upper Egyptian Gallery we were momentarily stunned thinking we were looking at the Rosetta stone, but it turned out to be a replica. However, the museum did have several very real mummies on display, and it was more than a little creepy to be wandering around the museum’s silent galleries at dusk, surrounded by stone coffins, ancient funerary objects, and mummified remains. I for one, was glad to get back outside where we took in the last few minutes of the performance before we headed home, visions of silk dancing in our heads.