Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, has long shared a bond with the City of Light (statesmen, inventor, composer, and proud Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin served as ambassador to France). The period of especially fervent artistic creativity that characterized Paris between 1910 to 1920 is the inspiration for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, taking place through this weekend, April 29-May 1, and which offers 30 commissioned, new works of music, drama, art, and flash mob dancing!
The festival, which launched earlier this month, is featuring more than 125 performing, visual arts, and cultural organizations, large and small, established and emerging, some in unique or first-time collaboration, in performances (hip-hop to opera to aerialist), exhibitions (museums to video installations), and events for children and family throughout the city. At the festival's focus is the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where an 81-foot, brilliantly illuminated replica of the Eiffel Tower soars to the vaulted glass roof (there's a nightly light show). A special nod to French circus arts takes place daily with special instruction for amateurs: if you have always wanted to fly on a trapeze, this is your chance.
This weekend, the Philadelphia Orchestra takes up two works by Stravinsky, Apollo and Oedipus Rex, that still impress with their audacity. And what homage to the spur of French creativity would be complete without food. Happily, it abounds.
Mario R. Mercado is the Arts Editor at Travel + Leisure