News Around the Neighborhood

SiriusXM Real Jazz’s Mark Ruffin

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Bebop Fairy Tales: On Jazz, Intolerance, and Baseball

Wednesday, December 1st
7:00 pm

Mark Ruffin, known as the afternoon drivetime DJ for SiriusXM’s Real Jazz channel, joins us virtually live to read from his collection of “jazz short stories,” Bebop Fairy Tales. A scintillating blend of historical fiction with jazz and, yes, baseball—the collection weaves connections between the two great and uniquely American pastimes, and explores how both are an expression and arbiter of race in America.

Bebop Cover

This program is a conversation with a true jazz expert. Moderated by Dr. Aaron Johnson, musician and Professor of Jazz at the University of Pittsburgh. Learn more.

Kamratōn and Nicole Mitchell in Concert

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Kamratōn Concert with Nicole Mitchell

Sunday, November 21st
6:00 pm

Pittsburgh-based chamber ensemble Kamratōn was founded to center women-created new music, challenge the boundaries of new music, and celebrate the role of women as leaders in the arts. Sunday’s concert is the culmination of a year-long focus on the work of flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell, Chair of Jazz Studies at The University of Pittsburgh. The concert is the premiere of a new work by Mitchell, followed by pieces curated exclusively by Mitchell.  Featuring Pittsburgh musicians Jeff Grubbs (bass) and Anqwenique Wingfield (vocals) for works by Nicole Mitchell, Yvette Jackson, Brittany J. Green, and others.

See a 2020 original commission by Nicole Mitchell @ City of Asylum and catch her newest piece live on 11/21.

There are two ways to watch the program: in-person at our venue Alphabet City or live-streamed online. You can make a reservation for dining before, during, or after the program at the in house restaurant 40 North. Make a reservation via Open Table.

A Powerful Film for Educators, Parents and the Community

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Antibias Education and Beyond: 
Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Thursday, November 18
6:00 pm

Join P.R.I.D.E. (Positive Racial Identity Development In Early Education) for a documentary screening of Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years and a discussion with the filmmakers. 

A new film, Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years (48 minutes), produced by Debbie LeeKeenan and John Nimmo,  features vignettes of anti-bias strategies in early childhood classrooms interspersed with teachers reflecting on their practice.  Debbie and John partnered with filmmaker Filiz Efe McKinney of Brave Sprout Productions to create a film that shifts the focus away from the talking heads of experts and on to the voices of teachers committed to equity on a daily basis. By taking viewers into diverse early childhood classrooms, the film seeks to demonstrate the importance of teacher reflection on identity, context, and practice in anti-bias education and provides a much-needed resource for teacher education and professional development. 

PRIDE LogoP.R.I.D.E. is a program within the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. Our goals are to help young African American children develop a positive racial identity, support teachers and parents by building their racial knowledge, and raise awareness of the impact of race on young children. We provide them with various learning opportunities, including educator trainings, Parent Village sessions for Black children and their families, Speaker Series events to educate the community and art festivals created to immerse young Black children in a space designed to celebrate them.

Less than one week away! CIRCLES: going in

Black Joy. Femme. Cycles of Life and Love.

Co-Presented with August Wilson African American Cultural Center and Kelly Strayhorn Theater, CIRCLES: going in is a full-length dance work celebrating #BlackGirlMagic.

Circles Flier

Layering dance, visual arts, and a live original score, the work presents snapshots of popular culture through choreographer Staycee Pearl’s lens as a Black woman. CIRCLES is a colorful, unapologetic, and daring path to self-reclamation. 

August Wilson African American Cultural Center

An Exciting Mix of Music, Culture, Joy and Thought

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Creating Make a Joyful Noize

Thursday, October 28th
6:30 pm

Are you in need of some joy? Of course you are, so tune in virtually on Thursday, October 28 to live a moment of joy through a multi-disciplinary feast for the eyes, ears, and soul.

Enjoy this therapeutic film which follows the creation of Make A Joyful Noize (MAJN). Commissioned by Carnegie Hall as part of its 125 Commission Project, Make A Joyful Noize is a multimedia universe that blends music, film, interviews, spoken word and dance to capture the visceral, contagious and unapologetic energy of black joy. Joy gives us a reason to live, even when it seems life has forsaken us. Black joy is entertainment, therapy, self-love and salvation. It is the force that allows us to still laugh and love. It is a special magic that sets the world on fire. MAJN presents the majesty of black joy through spirit, pain, resistance and love as a healing force for transformation. The visual and musical curation is unfiltered and unapologetic Black joy—a special kind of healing and magic that sets the world on fire.

BTANAbout the Black Transformative Arts Network (BTAN)

The Black Transformative Arts Network, addresses the goals of uniting Africana Children, increasing the visibility of Africana Arts and Arts Educators in Pittsburgh, healing and building Africana knowledge, power and networks for participants and community.

Follow BTAN on Facebook @BTANPgh

OCH&S-PBP-LEAD Thursday Discussion/Lunch

From the Office of Community Health & Safety:
This Thursday (10/21), from 11-1, we would like to invite you to a discussion with partners from the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) National Support Bureau along with Pittsburgh Police from Zone 1, Diversion Coordinators from the City’s new Office of Community Health & Safety, and case management partners about substance use, mental health, and criminal-legal involvement for people in the Northside as we are developing citywide diversion programs.
We will be meeting at Nova Place at 11am, providing a bagged lunch, sharing ideas until 12, and then walking around the community until 1pm.

We recognize that this is short notice, but we would love if you could join us and would appreciate if you would share this opportunity with those who are part of your community groups. I will send the invitation to all of you – please forward to your connections. We ask that recipients respond yes/no so that we can make sure we have enough for everyone to eat.


Laura Drogowski

Office of Community Health & Safety
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Bossa Nova meets French Jazz

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Aimée Allen Trio: Strings and C(h)ords

Sunday, October 24th
6:00 pm

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, vocalist Aimée Allen‘s intimate connection with music began as a child.She eventually moved to Paris where she discovered the deep relationship between francophone audiences and Brazilian bossa nova, leading her to form Les Bossa Novices, defining her style and sound. She brings her trademark soulful originals and lyricism to life with world-renowned bassist François Moutin and multi-dimensional guitarist Tony Romano. They make nine strings and two vocal cords sound like much more, with rich sonic landscapes and passionate, adventurous explorations of jazz improvisation and musical storytelling. The repertoire will include new arrangements of standards and old and new compositions. The trio provides a warm, dynamic, rhythmic experience like no other.

There are two ways to watch the program: In-person at our venue Alphabet City or live-streamed online. 

Please scroll to the bottom to review our Covid-19 safety policies for indoor programs @ Alphabet City, including the proof of vaccination requirement.

Doors Open: Ghosts of Pittsburgh (Virtual Storytelling)

Join Storyteller Alan Irvine for an evening exploring the darker side of Pittsburgh’s history with ghost stories from the City’s days as a frontier settlement up to modern times. Discover the spirits of the Heinz History Center and the old Pittsburgh Playhouse, as well as the most fiendishly haunted house in the city.

DATE/TIME: Monday, October 25 | 7 pm to 7:45 pm

The Live Stream will be presented on Zoom. The login link will be provided in the email confirmation once you purchase your tickets.

Alan Irvine told his first story over 40 years ago while working as a camp counselor in Louisiana: a ghost story told in the cabin after lights out. He has been telling ghost stories ever since. Over the years, he has collected Pittsburgh ghost stories, “true” tales and legends, and delights in sharing Pittsburgh’s darker side with audiences.

An Afternoon with Nobel Prize-Winner Wole Soyinka at Alphabet City

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Freedom to Create Keynote with Wole Soyinka

Saturday, October 9
3:00 pm

Each year we gather at Alphabet City for our Freedom to Create Keynote to honor an international writer or artist who has overcome efforts to limit their creative freedom. We are so excited that this year’s speaker and honoree, Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka, is joining us in person for this event on Saturday, October 9th.

Whole Soyinka

Originally from Nigeria, Soyinka is an acclaimed writer, playwright, critic, and activist. He became the first ever African Laureate when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. A co-founder of the Cities of Asylum movement, Soyinka was imprisoned for his criticism of the Nigerian government and spent many years living in exile in Europe and the United States. He last visited Pittsburgh in 2006 when he participated in Jazz Poetry on Sampsonia Way.

On Sampsonia Way in 2006

On Sampsonia Way in 2006 (Credit: Christopher Humphrey Photography)

Soyinka will read from Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth—his first novel in almost 50 years—and then be joined by American author Richard Wiley on stage for questions and conversation.

Wole Soyinka rarely visits the United States, so this opportunity to hear him read in person should not be missed. Tickets for this event are free but capacity is limited…be sure to make your reservation early! And for those who prefer to watch from home, the Keynote will also be streamed on our virtual channel.

We look forward to seeing you on October 9th to celebrate Wole Soyinka’s new book and his return to Pittsburgh!

Afro Yaqui Returns for an Evening of Energetic Music

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Afro Yaqui Music Collective Presents:

Maroon Futures

Sunday, August 29
6:00 pm

Join us for an evening of global freedom music with the award-winning revolutionary jazz ensemble The Afro Yaqui Music Collective performing from their 2021 album, Maroon Futures. 

The Afro Yaqui Music Collective (named after the indigenous music of the Yaqui people of northern Mexico) fuses the music of first nations in the Americas with funk, jazz, and hip hop to create a new rhythm that liberates spirit and soul. They are a postcolonial big band who imagines a world where many worlds fit. And boy are they fun!

Afro Yaqui performs at City of Asylum several times a year and are consistently one of our most popular concerts. Fusing education of rarely heard musical styles, with activism, with toe-tappin, head bobbing rhythms, an Afro Yaqui concert never disappoints.

Co-led by Gizelxanath Rodriguez, a Mexican operatic vocalist and cellist of Yaqui indigenous descent, and Ben Barson, a composer and baritone saxophinst,  the collective is a site of several intercultural collaborations, working with musicians, poets and dramaturgs from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Chicago, Brooklyn, Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh.

There are two ways to join us for this evening of live music and dance—virtually from home or under the tent on Sampsonia Way. Tent capacity is limited and fills up quickly, so act fast to join us in person.