A musical exploration of the Barnes collection
Friday, Sept. 9 (opening night of the 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival)

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Tweet this: The #BarnesFoundation and @ArsNovaWorkshop present #Room21 by #JaceClayton on opening night of the #PhiladelphiaFringeFestival


Philadelphia, PA, September 6, 2016—Composer Jace Clayton kicks off the 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival on Friday, September 9, with the debut of Room 21, a site-specific hour-long musical piece. The project, featuring more than a dozen musicians, is curated by Lee Tusman in association with Ars Nova Workshop. Room 21 has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Albert C. Barnes was known for his radical and eclectic taste and for the unconventional way he displayed his collection. He overturned traditional categories of display and mixed together objects from different cultures and time periods. Though not as widely known, Barnes's aural interests were as curious and diverse as his visual ones, with a wide range of genres, from spirituals to classical music, represented in his extensive record collection.

Clayton is particularly drawn to Room 21 of the Collection Gallery, which brings together Pennsylvania German furniture, Amedeo Modigliani's painting Reclining Nude from the Back, African masks, religious works, and paintings by Barnes's students. Inspired by the interplay of the objects, Clayton found an unlikely echo of his own approach in Barnes's idiosyncratic methods. His composition draws not only on the visual inspiration from the art in Room 21 but also on sounds and rhythms he discovered while delving into Barnes's record collection. "My approach to composition is informed by my background as a DJ, and in many ways Albert Barnes himself thought like a DJ by arranging artworks with a sense for their overall rhythm and unexpected resonances," says Clayton, who has released several critically acclaimed albums and used to host a weekly radio show on WFMU as DJ /rupture.

Room 21 is performed by an ensemble as diverse as the collection itself: the Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, banjoist Ben Lee, Ethiopian musician Gezachew Habtemariam, and pianist Emily Manzo, all wearing costumes handcrafted by fashion designer Rocio Salceda of Prellezo.

Clayton wrote the piece to be performed in the luminescent Annenberg Court, which unites indoor and outdoor spaces under a cantilevered glass light box. "I'm staging Room 21 to take advantage of the Barnes's atrium space as a unique listening environment," Clayton says. "By playing with scale and movement in the room, I hope to give people who are familiar with the space a new experience of it."

After the performance, a special archive website will store audio and visual documentation of it. As it was customary in Barnes's lifetime to submit a written requests to visit the collection, those interested in accessing the digital Room 21 archive will have to acquire access from the composer through an online request.


Room 21 by Jace Clayton: Fringe Festival Performance 

Friday, September 9, 7–10 pm / Philadelphia Fringe Festival Opening Night


7–8­­pm collection access

8–9:30pm performance


The Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130

$10; members $8

Online ticketing and details

Based in New York City, Jace Clayton uses an interdisciplinary approach to focus on how sound, memory, and public space interact, with an emphasis on low-income communities and the Global South. Bob Hammond of New York Magazine called him "a one-man musical Venn diagram, linking up genres, people, styles, and beats." Clayton's book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture will be published this summer by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Recent projects include Sufi Plug-Ins, a free suite of music software-as- art, based on non-western conceptions of sound and alternative interfaces; and The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, a touring performance piece for grand pianos, electronics, and voice.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The Barnes holds one of the world’s finest collections of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; works by American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin, and Maurice Prendergast; old master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry, and textiles; decorative arts and ironwork; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. While most collections are grouped by chronology, style, or genre, art at the Barnes is arranged in ensembles structured according to light, line, color, and space—principles that Dr. Barnes called “the universal language of art.” The Foundation’s programs include First Fridays, Young Professionals nights, tours, tastings, and family programs, as well as Barnes-de Mazia Education Program courses and workshops. These programs advance the Foundation’s mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The Barnes Foundation is open Wednesday–Monday and tickets can be purchased on-site, online, or by calling 215.278.7200. Ticket prices and current hours are listed on

The Barnes Arboretum in Merion contains more than 2,500 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Laura Leggett Barnes, the living collections include 40 state champion trees, a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, stewartias, ferns, medicinal plants, hostas, and magnolias. The Horticulture Education Program has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes. The arboretum also offers horticulture workshops and lectures. Tickets to the Arboretum can be purchased on-site. Ticket prices and current hours are listed on


Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications
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