Curtis Opens the FringeArts Festival in a Debut Collaboration with Pennsylvania Ballet September 6 and 7

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Curtis Opens the FringeArts Festival in a Debut Collaboration with Pennsylvania Ballet September 6 and 7

Featuring Curtis Student Composers and Ensemble39, a Philadelphia-based chamber group of Curtis alumni

PHILADELPHIA, PA–August 27, 2014–The Curtis Institute of Music joins forces with Pennsylvania Ballet and FringeArts to produce three new experimental dances in the world premiere of “What I Learned About Outer Space,” opening the 2014 Fringe Festival. In this unprecedented collaboration, three superbly adventurous choreographers from around the world will create experimental works set to music by Curtis composers Rene Orth and Alyssa Weinberg. Philadelphia’s premiere dance company, Pennsylvania Ballet, performs with Ensemble39, a Philadelphia-based chamber group of Curtis alumni.

Performances take place Saturday, September 6 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, September 7 at 2 p.m. at FringeArts (140 N. Columbus Boulevard), the first public performances in their new waterfront facility. “After being nomadic for almost two decades, FringeArts finally has a place to call home,” says FringeArts President and Producing Director Nick Stuccio. “We want to be a place for Philadelphians to see the world’s most exciting artists all year long, and in turn support our city’s incredible local artists as they make their way in the world.”

“What I Learned About Outer Space” is contemporary performance art at its highest level, bringing together three cutting-edge choreographers, Zoe Scofield, Itamar Serussi, and Georg Reischl, and fifteen classically trained Pennsylvania Ballet dancers to create, rehearse, and perform brand-new works in the span of a few short weeks. The collaboration is enhanced with the addition of Ensemble 39, a Philadelphia-based chamber group of Curtis alumni.

A private gala performance on September 5 precedes the public appearances later in the week.

Tickets and more information available at or (215) 413-1318. FringeArts is located on 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia.

FringeArts supports artists and brings the world’s newest and most cutting-edge cultural experiences to Philadelphia, amplifying the vibrancy of the city as a renowned cultural center and an unparalleled place to live, work, and visit. Founded in 1997 and formerly known as the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, the organization serves local, national, and international artists of all disciplines and levels of achievement through an annual eighteen day festival along with a year-round series of high-quality contemporary dance, theater, and music performances; commissioned public art installations; and a residency program that continues to expand and grow as a state-of-the-art incubator for artists. In 2013, FringeArts opened the doors to its brand-new waterfront headquarters in Old City Philadelphia.

Founded in 1963 by Balanchine student and protégée Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Company’s annual local season features six programs of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™.  For more information, visit or call (215) 551-7000.

Ensemble39 is known for its electrifying performances and singularly unique approach to style, sound, and programming. Inspired in form by Sergei Prokofiev’s Quintet, Op. 39, for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and bass, the group’s distinctive mix of strings and winds evokes eclectic musical genres–from the classical oboe to the jazz bass, the klezmer clarinet to the country fiddle.

E39 has worked with some of the best young composers of its generation. In the past two years, commissions for the Philadelphia-based ensemble–led by Alexandra von der Embse (Oboe ’12) –have reached the double digits (and continue to multiply). The group has won accolades from audiences, presenters, and top musicians in the field. “Ensemble39 combines great chops with a fearless attitude to repertoire and performance,” according to the Grammy-winning contemporary ensemble eighth blackbird. “This is no ordinary chamber ensemble!”

E39 changes the conventional concert paradigm, exploring new venues, seeking diverse collaborators, loosening the presentation protocol, and pursuing mixtape-style programming. Equally at home in traditional concert spaces, art galleries, bars, pop-ups, and living rooms, the group’s appearances around the world have included the Philly Fringe Festival, the Dresden Music Festival, World Cafe Live, and Columbia University’s Miller Theater.

Rene Orth, from Garland, Texas, entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2013 and studies with Richard Danielpour. In addition to her participation in numerous festivals including the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, the Fresh Inc Music Festival, and the Atlantic Music Festival, she has garnered several awards including the Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment Grant, the United States State Department Critical Language Scholarship for Chinese, the University of Louisville Graduate Dean’s Citation, and the University of Louisville Moritz von Bomhard Fellowship. She was recently commissioned by the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative to write a chamber opera for singers from the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. The opera, a collaboration with librettist Jason Kim, premieres in November at the Kennedy Center.

Ms. Orth holds a Master of Music in composition from the University of Louisville, a Certificate of Recording Arts from MediaTech Institute, and a Bachelor of Arts in music from Rhodes College. She has participated in master classes with Michel van der Aa, Esa-PekkaSalonen, Simon Bainbridge, Chen Yi, and Louis Andriessen. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full tuition scholarships, and Ms. Orth is the Edwin B. Garrigues Annual Fellow.

Alyssa Weinberg is co-founder of Festival Daniou, which had its inaugural season in summer 2014, and her works have been performed by the New York based ensemble Contemporaneous, as well as the New Lens Music Series, where her Four Stanzas was performed by the ensemble Panic Duo across the west coast. Her works have been performed at Fontainebleau and at the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, and her Piano Trio was recorded by pianist Jeewon Park, violist Soovin Kim, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein. She has also received commissions from One Book One Philadelphia, Tristan McKay, Sean Neukom, Chris James, Tristan McKay, and the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, supported by a 2013 grant from New Music USA. Alyssa’s music has been presented by the Live Connections series at World Café Live, performed by cellist and Curtis alumnus, Gabriel Cabezas, and dancer Chloe Felesina.

As part of her training, she has attended the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau in France where she worked with composers Francois Paris and Allain Gaussin, in addition to master classes with Philippe Leroux. Ms. Weinberg has studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music, where she was a member of Richard Danielpour’s studio. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University where she majored in music composition and studied Horn with Leslie Norton. She currently studies composition with David Ludwig at the Curtis Institute of Music. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full tuition scholarships, and Ms. Weinberg is the Edith Evans Braun Fellow.

One of the world’s finest and most selective conservatories, the Curtis Institute of Music offers a tuition-free, performance-inspired learning culture to 175 students from all corners of the world. Nurtured by a celebrated faculty, its extraordinary young musicians graduate to join 4,000 alumni who have long made music history. From Leonard Bernstein to Alan Gilbert, Samuel Barber to Jennifer Higdon, Anna Moffo to Eric Owens, Curtis alumni personify the school’s commitment to excellence–onstage and in their communities–inventing careers with impact.

A busy schedule of performances, including more than 200 a year in Philadelphia and around the world, is at the heart of Curtis’s distinctive “learn by doing” approach. Dedicated to a tradition of excellence and innovation since its founding in 1924, Curtis is looking toward its centenary in a flexible and forward-thinking way, evolving strategically to serve its time-honored mission.

“What I Learned About Outer Space”
Curtis Institute of Music and Pennsylvania Ballet at FringeArts
Saturday, September 6 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, September 7 at 2 p.m.
140 N. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia

Tickets and more information: or (215) 413-1318.



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