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September 29, 2022

Penn Live Arts celebrates the Coltranes with Alice & John: A Coltrane Festival

World premieres, new commissions and an impressive line-up of artists perform October 14-23

Arts Performances

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Limited - PLA - Coltrane Festival Main Image Courtesy/Lakecia Benjamin

Lakecia Benjamin, jazz saxophonist and Artistic Advisor of October’s Alice & John: A Coltrane Festival

Alice and John Coltrane are jazz royalty, and Penn Live Arts’ Coltrane Festival (October 14-23) honors the tremendous impact this iconic duo had on American music, with an exciting emphasis on Alice’s significant and often underrepresented contributions. With rising star saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin serving as Artistic Advisor, the Festival showcases John’s bebop, free jazz and spiritual enlightenments alongside the more abstract sounds and Eastern influences of Alice’s compositions. An impressive line-up of artists brings new interpretations of the Coltranes’ music into the present day through world premieres and Penn Live Arts commissioned works, while films and discussions with Coltrane scholars round out the Festival’s thematic journey with these jazz icons.

Limited - PLA - Coltrane Festival 1Deborah Feingold/For Penn Live Arts

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane explores the groundbreaking music of his legendary parents

A prolific star of the dance world, choreographer Pam Tanowitz choreographs to jazz music for the first time, with her company Pam Tanowitz Dance performing the world premiere of Walk With Me, a commissioned work set to Alice Coltrane’s music and played live by Lakecia Benjamin and her band, Pursuance. (October 14-15) Benjamin remains in the spotlight in an all-Coltrane inspired program featuring very special guests Dee Dee Bridgewater,Gary Bartz and Philadelphia native Reggie Workman, who himself played with John Coltrane. (October 16) Ravi Coltrane brings a personal connection in a grand exploration of his parents’ musical legacy (October 22), and jazz harpist Brandee Younger continues her years-long dedication to Alice’s music, highlighting her earlier works. (October 23) Two films, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (October 12) and Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes (October 13) provide an in-depth look at John Coltrane's life and the recording industry he and other jazz luminaries helped fuel.

Limited - PLA - Coltrane Festival 4Erin Patrice O'Brien/For Penn Live Arts

Harpist Brandee Younger makes her Penn Live Arts debut in a program focusing on Alice Coltrane’s otherworldly album, “Ptah, the El Daoud”

"I wanted to honor both Alice and John Coltrane in my album, Pursuance: The Coltranes,” says Benjamin. “Even though I am a saxophonist, I was familiar with Alice Coltrane's music before I became familiar with John Coltrane and his music. I was drawn to Alice Coltrane's spirituality and how she reflected that in her music. After I became familiar with John Coltrane, I devoured his music, both as a musician and composer but also because of the obvious spirituality in his music. I think of them as a real power couple and I could not imagine honoring one without the other.”

Limited - PLA - Coltrane Festival 3Erin Baiano/For Penn Live Arts

Pam Tanowtiz Dance performs two world premieres including Walk With Me, a commissioned work set to the music of Alice and John Coltrane.

Alice & John: A Coltrane Festival is a major program within Penn Live Arts’ 50th anniversary celebration in the 2022-23 season. This milestone anniversary will be commemorated in a year of world and Philadelphia premieres, local debuts, commissioned works and some of the most celebrated artists from around the globe. Penn Live Arts is known for its renowned dance series, and the 2022-23 season stays true to tradition with 10 of the world’s greatest companies and most talented choreographers. Other major initiatives in the season include two significant residencies that elevate Black storytelling tradition: the legendary Negro Ensemble Company, featuring a one-act play festival and a world premiere multi-disciplinary theatrical work, and Philadelphia’s brilliant hip hop choreographer, Rennie Harris. A new series, entitled ListenHear, profiles important contemporary musical voices, and the Philadelphia Children’s Festival returns in spring 2023.

Subscriptions and single tickets, beginning at $29, are available now. Visit for details.