Ars Nova Workshop Begins 10th Season

Dave Douglas image 0
Suzannah P. Kincannon

Dave Douglas

Ars Nova, the Philly-based arts and music organization, kicks off its 10th season of concerts of jazz and creative music with a performance by Digital Primitives tonight at 8 pm at the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in Center City Philadelphia.

The organization was founded in 2000 by Mark Christman who had just graduated from local Drexel University. He said he was simply tired of driving to New York City over and over in order to hear new and creative music. Turns out that JT contributor Nate Chinen was instrumental in getting him started as a presenter. “Nate stumbled upon this local theater company that needed someone to do jazz presenting,” said Christman. “He recommended me and then it began.” Since that time, Christman has built the organization into one of the most interesting presenters in the country, somehow managing to survive economic ups and downs and yet present a wide range of artists, not generally seen outside of New York City. Case in point: tonight’s show with the band comprised by Cooper-Moore, Assif Tsahar and Chad Taylor. For Christman, his edgy sensibility has rubbed off on his audience. “I believe that listening to this material and being engaged by things that are slightly challenging can be very educational. I see that in 10 years our audience has grown to expect us to challenge them. It breeds a certain amount of intelligence and excitement for them to experience where jazz is heading.”

Ars Nova does about 50 concerts per year, at venues ranging in capacity from 40 to 400. “We might present someone like Cecil Taylor or John Zorn at the bigger venues, such as the International House or present lesser known artists in gallery spaces. We try to bring this music to spaces that can accommodate the performers and even elevate the context of their work and history.” Keeping the music accessible to the local community has been a cornerstone of the organization, which rarely charges more than $12 for a show. And continuity breeds community, according to Christman. “Because our organization has an ongoing presence and an established history, this small vital community slowly builds into the health of the community at large.” He feels strongly that arts and culture have an important role in everyday life. “Arts and the city can have a conversation around all this activity and elevate the perspective of both.”

Upcoming performances this fall, include:

Sunday, September 27, 8pm


with Oliver Lake, saxophone; Jared Gold, organ; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet;

and Bill McClellan, drums

Saturday, October 3, 8pm


Saturday, October 10, 8pm


Tuesday, October 13, 8pm


Thursday, October 22, 8pm


perform the music of DON CHERRY

For more information about these performances and the Ars Nova Workshop organization, you can visit their web site.