Philadelphia Art Alliance Blog

Highly Acclaimed New Music Champion, Sarah Cahill Performs at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, July 13th 7:30pm


By Mat TomezskoImage

Critically acclaimed and internationally renowned pianist, writer, and producer Sarah Cahill will perform at  the Philadelphia Art Alliance (PAA) on July 13th at 7:30pm. The PAA is thrilled to present a truly unique performance by Ms. Cahill, who was recently called “fiercely gifted” by the New York Times and “as tenacious and committed an advocate as any composer could dream of” by the San Francisco Chronicle. This will be her only performance in Philadelphia this summer and will take place in the intimate setting on the third floor of the PAA. Inspired by the exhibition “Sentimental Value” – currently on view in the PAA galleries – Ms. Cahill will perform and discuss pieces that have a special, personal significance to her. This unique performance will provide insight into the world of the Artist, the music, and the composers with whom she has collaborated.

The New York Times recently called Ms. Cahill “a world class performer” and “a fierce champion of new music.” Residing in Berkley, California, Ms. Cahill is a prominent member of a community of Bay Area musicians, composers, performers, and critics described as “a hub for new music nationwide.” She produces recurring concert programs and interactive music events such as Garden of Memory, and is the host to a popular radio program “Then and Now” on KALW, making new music accessible to the public.


in 1977, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams wrote “China Gates” for Ms. Cahill, then a 17-year-old student, to perform. This was her first introduction to contemporary composition, and to the thrill of premiering something completely new. Throughout her career, she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to her include, the legendary minimalist Terry Riley, virtuoso pianist Frederic Rzewski, accordionist and electronic musician Pauline Oliveros, Fluxus composer Annea Lockwood, and post-minimalist composer Evan Ziporyn. Cahill has premiered pieces by Lou Harrison, Julia Wolfe, Ingram Marshall, Toshi IchiyanagiGeorge Lewis, Leo Ornstein, and many others.

Her most recent project, “A Sweeter Music” was conceived as a reaction to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ms. Cahill commissioned 18 eclectic composers to write new works about peace and healing, and performs the music around the country. The title comes from a line in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 Nobel Lecture: “We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war.”

ImageMuch of the music she performs defies the stereotype of contemporary music being discordant and angular; rather, it is fluid, evocative of natural elements, and beautifully expressive. To listen to sample recordings, simply visit her website.

At the performance on July 13th 7:30 pm, Sarah Cahill will perform a special selection of compositions and take advantage of the intimacy of the performance space to discuss with her audience the personal significance of the music and the context of its creation. Her first-hand experience will provide profound insight into the music and the vibrant world of the new music scene.

Tickets are $15, and are available online or at the door. Space is limited.
To purchase tickets, click here.

Sarah generously sent along this fantastic introduction to her work as a New American pianist and composer. Give it a listen to hear what you can expect out of a performance from this incredible musician. Intro by Brian Hart Cassidy, host of the CaveCast. Listen Here.

Read the reviews: NYTimes, NYTimes, San Francisco Chronicle

Mat Tomezsko is the Programs and Events Coordinator at the Philadelphia Art Alliance

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