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December 6th, 1996
Pma Wednesday Nights / African American Heritage

All those interested in exploring the rich and varied facets of African American culture are invited to attend two very special Wednesday Nights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in early 1997. Music and history will be at center-stage on the evening of January 8, as the Bright Hope Baptist Church Celestial Choir sings spirituals and gospel music in tribute to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring Cecelia Birt, soprano-actress and Gary Giles, orator; Donald Dumpson is the Choir's artistic director. Also appearing will be internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and 1996 Pew Fellowship recipient Dave Burrell, a composer who will perform such rhythmic, original rags "Margy Pargy" and "The Box," as well as standards by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and others. Programming on January 8 is part of Jazz FM Wednesdays, musical showcases of the best in local jazz that will take place on the first Wednesday night of every month, and hosted by Jazz FM, Temple University Public Radio.

On Wednesday night, February 19, the Museum will host A Family Reunion, a festive look at the African American experience featuring the Women's Sekere Ensemble, an energetic and talented group of female percussionists dedicated to the preservation of African music. Founded and directed by Omomola Iyabunmi, the ensemble performs traditional African and New World singing and drumming using intricately beaded gourds called sekere. The Ensemble captures the essence of secular and percussive music found in Africa and other locales throughout the African diaspora (including Brazil, Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico). Also featured during A Family Reunion will be Tribe Performing Arts Entertainment's presentation of Voices, a culturally uplifting dance and theater performance, a tour of highlights from the Museum's African American collection, storytelling with Charlotte Blake Alston (presented by Borders Books & Music, Bryn Mawr), a demonstration by woodcarver Robert Douglas Council, and the hit film Waiting to Exhale (presented by the Ritz Theatres Group).

Wednesday Nights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art begin at 5:00 and continue to 8:45 p.m. Spotlight Talks are given at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m., and films are shown at 7:10 p.m. Admission to the Museum is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 5 to 17, students with valid I.D., and senior citizens ages 62 and over. All programs are free after Museum admission. Call (215) 684-7860 for information and (215) 684-7506 for a free brochure on Wednesday Night programs.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art thanks Philadelphia Weekly for its advertising support.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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