Mission and History

Mission
Ars Nova Workshop (ANW) acts as a facilitator between artists and their audiences, while working to inform, inspire and challenge listeners in order to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation and experimental music in contemporary culture.

Overview
Ars Nova Workshop (ANW) is a Philadelphia-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit jazz and experimental music presenting organization. ANW acts as a facilitator between artists and their audiences, while working to inform, inspire, and challenge listeners in order to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation and experimental music in contemporary culture. ANW fervently upholds the jazz/Free Jazz continuums and recognizes the groundbreaking contributions of 20th and 21st century composers, improvisers and emerging artists. ANW seeks to be a vital cultural resource for Philadelphia, where events provide a forum for discourse, emergent trends in contemporary music, and unique forms of cultural exchange.

Founded in 2000, ANW has programmed nearly 500 unique events in diverse settings, many located in the underserved area of West Philadelphia. Performances have included some of the most significant contributors to jazz and experimental music over the past 50 years such as Cecil Taylor, Pauline Oliveros, Tony Conrad, Merzbow, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Bill Dixon, Fennesz and Anthony Braxton, in addition to exceptional Philadelphia-based ensembles and emerging artists from around the world. ANW hosted the US debuts of Tomasz Stanko Quartet, Dave Burrell‘s Full-Blown Trio, the Anthony Braxton Sextet, and Norway’s Frode Haltli Quartet. ANW also presented the Philadelphia premiers of such variously unique ensembles as Dans les arbres, Circulasione Totale Orchestre, Tim Berne’s Los Totopos, Dave Douglas’ Witness, Billy Martin / G. Calvin Weston Duo (our live performance is now on CD through Amulet Records), Instant Composers Pool Orchestra, and Drew Gress’s Spin and Drift, as well as some of the leading names in European improvised music, including Mats Gustafsson, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Paal Nilssen-Love, Han Bennink, and Miroslav Vitous. ANW continues to be a driving force in bridging the gap between the Free Jazz  movement of the 1960s, presenting musical icons such as Henry Grimes, Sunny Murray, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Dr. Art Davis, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Mario Pavone and John Tchicai, and some of the most innovative musicians and ensembles in creative music today, including C. Spencer Yeh, Nate Wooley, Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Zeena Parkins, Tim Berne’s Bloodcount, Jenny Scheinman, John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, and MacArthur fellows Ken Vandermak, George Lewis and John Zorn.

Because of ANW’s unique programming and tireless efforts to cultivate a viable community for innovative music in Greater Philadelphia, the organization has been the subject of several articles in the local and national press, including The New York Times, Spin Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.  In 2006, ANW received ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award as well as the organization’s fourth Philadelphia City Paper Choice Award.