Matana Roberts’ “we got time.” | Ars Nova Workshop
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New Grass

MATANA ROBERTS’ “we got time.”

June 11–13, 2021

In partnership with The Crossing, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and The Woodlands, Ars Nova Workshop presents Matana Roberts’ “we got time.” — a world premiere work by the multidisciplinary artist, honoring the life of Breonna Taylor. “we got time.” will be presented in West Philadelphia at The Woodlands, from June 11-13, 2021.

When grand jurors were told they wouldn’t be able to watch all the body camera footage due to time restraints, one juror shot back, loudly, “We! Got! Time!”

Composer, sound artist, and jazz saxophonist Matana Roberts has created a collage of sound that reflects on the world today, positioning the loss of Breonna Taylor at the center of that world, and asks questions about the meaning of familiar words present in historic documents — the United States’ Declaration of Independence and the Preamble and First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — the 19th-century hymn “Pass Over to The Rest,” event data related to Taylor’s death, and a roll call of the names of Black women lost in similar ways. Roberts writes of this sound quilt as a communal practice, “a scrap alone is of no use, but a scrap bounded together by others of its diverse kind will move beyond anything that it ever thought it could be.”

Admission Guidelines

This linear work is experienced via a 1/3-mile self-paced walk through The Woodlands historic cemetery. Entry is timed and the performers and audience will be spatially distanced.

Advance ticket purchase is required as there will be no on-site sales. No printed tickets will be sent so ticket holders should be prepared to show their email confirmations upon arrival. Audience members should arrive 10 minutes prior to the entry time to check in with program staff and queue for staggered entry. In order to maintain safe distancing, late arrivals cannot be guaranteed entry.

All attendees are expected to wear a mask and maintain 6-feet social distancing from those not in their immediate party. The experience will last approximately 20 minutes on a 1/3-mile well-marked path through the cemetery which connects back to the entrance, ensuring different audience groups do not cross paths. Comfortable shoes appropriate to hiking or long walks are encouraged. The path cannot safely accommodate personal mobility devices. In the case of inclement weather, this event will likely be cancelled, and ticket holders will be notified.

Month of Moderns 2021

“we got time.” is being presented as part of The Month of Moderns 2021 festival.

Grammy Award-winning choir The Crossing, led by Donald Nally, announces the return of its annual summer festival of new music, The Month of Moderns 2021, co-presented with Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and Ars Nova Workshop, June 3-19, 2021. Each of the festival’s three scheduled outdoor programs, spread across Philadelphia and neighboring New Hope, Pennsylvania, will be performed with singers and audience spatially distanced using The Crossing’s Echoes Amplification Kits designed by in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez, which allow an intimate aural experience while observing pandemic-time protocols.

Cover: Matana Roberts / Photo by M. Tarantelli
June 11–13, 2021


  • Performance

Program Info

$35 general admission
All Ages

Special ticket pricing available for residents of West Philadelphia.

Program Schedule

  • Friday, June 11
  • Saturday, June 12
  • Saturday, June 12
  • Sunday, June 13

NOTE: Friday’s performance has been cancelled due to rain.


The Woodlands
Philadelphia, PA

  • The Woodlands, Philadelphia

Program details

“we got time.” is presented as a linear work, in which the audience participates by walking, safely and socially-distanced, through The Woodlands historic site in West Philadelphia.

Presented by

Ars Nova Workshop in partnership with The Crossing, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and The Woodlands, presents Matana Roberts’ “we got time.” as part of the New Grass series of programs.

“we got time.”

Matana Roberts writes:

This is a sound quilt, a communal practice.

The work quilts together scraps drawn from old texts, a 19th-c. hymn, historical documents, anthemic material, and event data as related to Breonna Taylor’s death. The musical quilting is experimental, constantly evolving.

     A scrap alone is of no use,
     but a scrap bounded together by others of its diverse kind
     will move beyond anything that it ever thought it could be.

With this piece, we celebrate what Ms. Taylor was unfortunately burdened with igniting, going down in history as a spark for a much larger flame, holding America accountable to the tenets of its own flawed foundational documents. We also give a nod to those initial protestors in Louisville, Kentucky who rightfully amplified the death of one of their own, risking their lives and wellbeing, in the midst of a global pandemic, to bring the appropriate manner of justice that should have been afforded to Ms. Taylor. This is experimental protest music. To the singers: “Let this piece and the actions herein ring loud and true as they are afforded to you by your human birthright.”

Graphic score excerpt for
Matana Roberts’ graphic score for “we got time.”

summer 2021

New Grass

  • Series

New Grass

In collaboration with The Woodlands historic site in West Philadelphia, Ars Nova Workshop presents an exploration of fostering spaces where the creativity, thoughtfulness, and joy of everyday life in West Philadelphia can be shared.