The dancers of Knitting Peace | Photo by Mats Baker

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) will be back in town this spring for its third-ever installment. The festival, which is curated by the Kimmel Center, runs from April 8 to 23 and will feature over 60 performances and installations from local and international artists alike.

The festival features a number of art forms, ranging from theater, to live music, to sculpture. We at The Key are here to help you keep track of all of the music-related events going on at PIFA. Some of the following events aren’t standard concerts, but everything listed has at the very least a strong component of live music.


April 6, PIFA 2016 Gala — The Kimmel Center: Who doesn’t love a good black-tie gala? You’ll get to schmooze with the Philadelphia elite, but here’s the real draw: the evening features a performance from Grammy-winning folk singer Rhiannon Giddens, which will include a collaboration with the French performance troupe Compagnie des Quidams. I don’t know what that means, but apparently there will be inflatable horse puppets involved in the show.

April 8-10, Knitting Peace — Merriam Theater: Swedish circus company Cirkus Cirkor will be performing the American premiere of their show Knitting Peace. Set to live music, the show features acrobatic circus artists flying above a set that includes quite a bit of yarn.

April 9, Rivers of Sound — Perelman Theater: Amir ElSaffar is an Iraqi-American trumpeter. Fresh off a performance at the Lincoln Center in New York City, ElSaffar and his 17-member band will be treating Philadelphians to an expansive trip around the world’s music with far-reaching cultural and stylistic backgrounds.

April 10, Attack Point — Verizon Hall: A collaboration between the Curtis Institute and Gallim Dance, Attack Point is where dance and organ meet. This world premiere will feature an organ performance of music originally composed for dance, set to an empty stage. Once the dancers enter, they will be dancing to an organ piece not intended for dance.

April 15-17, Concerto in Sea Major, various locations: Winner of the best pun in PIFA 2016 by a landslide, Concerto in Sea Minor is much more than mere wordplay. In the program’s FREE American premiere, the performers of Acquacoustique will be standing knee-deep in water, transforming snorkels and water cans into musical instruments and even using the water itself as percussion. You’ve never heard water sound this good before.

April 22, Holding It Down, Perelman Theater: This is truly a can’t-miss event. In their Philadelphia premiere, the Veterans’ Dream Project, in collaboration with Grammy nominee Vijay Iyer and poet Mike Ladd, are set to perform the dream poems of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The veterans will be reading their moving poetry set to original music composed by Iyer.

Ticket information for the performances, along with any additional information about PIFA, can be found at the festival’s website here.