The Woodmere Art Museum is known for bringing new, exciting exhibits to Chestnut Hill. More recently, however, art in a different form has taken hold of visitors. Jazz at Woodmere has rapidly developed into an important element of the museum’s dynamic.
Pamela Birmingham, the curator of education at Woodmere, is optimistic about the fusion of visual art, the spoken word and soulful music. “Telling the story of Philadelphia’s rich, artistic history has always been important,” Birmingham said, “It will only become easier to tell that story with this program.”
Birmingham credits Warren Oree, the head of the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, for the continued success of the program. “We have worked with Warren for some time now, and he is always coming up with new ideas,” she said. Many of those ideas have involved educating the children of Chestnut Hill and beyond. “1,2, Rythm and Blue” has become a mainstay in the museum’s student education efforts. Together with Oree, Woodmere Art Museum connects with local schools to teach kids about the importance of art, math and music. Encouraging learning while making it entertaining has led to a lot of support in the region.
Although much of this entertainment is focused on children, the Friday night jazz is all about the adults.
An eclectic group of supporters come out every Friday to “end their week with some fun,” Birmingham said. The Po/Jazz Connection last week was no different as Oree teamed up with professional poets Pat McLain and Glenn McLaughlin. “I’ve read my work in front of rooms packed with people and rooms with only two or three people, but I’ve never read with live music working with me,” McLaughlin said. The author of three different volumes of poems(Something Catches, The Land I Am Given and Forms of Lectio) agreed that this event was one of the most intriguing poetry readings he has taken part in.
This was certainly an interesting night for many visitors as well. Encouraged by the trio of professionals, many members of the audience took the microphone and expressed themselves through rhyme. “It’s really nice to get a group of people together who share the same ideas and really enjoy connecting with others in such different ways,” she said, “The free wine probably didn’t hurt either.”