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The Philadelphia Society for Art, Literature & Music is pleased to announce the presentation of a series of events to mark the life and work of Jerzy Grotowski, the renowned Polish theater Director, theorist and master teacher whose distinguished career revolutionized contemporary theater.

The first of PSALM’s programs held in April 2009 paid tribute to the contributions of Grotowski to world theater. Ttwo important documentary films detailing the life and work of the artist were screened for a who's who audience of local theater literati. A light meal followed along with a discussion of Grotowski’s work, past and present.

Vist the website for further information on the upcoming 2009 Year of Grotowski events worldwide.

"Voices From the Well of Peace"
A Celebration of Hope and Beauty

Voices ImageHaverford College hosted an important celebration of interfaith dialogue with a Sufi perspective on Sunday October 2nd. Over 200 people of all faiths and spiritual traditions joined in the message of hope and beauty offered through film, music, poetry, dance, dialogue, performance and much more. The event was presented by The Philadelphia Society for Art, Literature & Music in Association with The Global Dialogue Institute at Haverford College and The Middle East Center of The University of Pennsylvania.

The highlight of this festive, multi-media symposium was the East Coast premiere of "Rumi-Turning Ecstatic", a new film documenting one woman's odyssey of spiritual awakening, with a special guest appearance by the film's star and co-producer, Tina Petrova. Jelaluddin Rumi was a Persian Sufi mystic from the 13th century whose inspired poetry is read widely around the world, and now even outsells Shakespeare in the United States. Rumi spoke at great length about the singular unity of the human family, and although he was a devout Muslim, embraced all people without distinction.

Live musical performances included heart-opening original “new-grass” music by the amazing “Illumination Band” from their new CD of songs based on the poetry of Rumi. Master musicians, Aliyar and Levent Firat from Turkey performed soul-stirring “Ilahis” or sacred music on traditional Middle Eastern instruments. Sheikha Ayesha Jeanne Lauenborg lead participants from the audience in “Dances of Universal Peace.” Deepak Kumar sang the songs of Kabir accompanied by harmonium, tabla and flute. Singer/songwriter, Näthan Gangadean performed original contemporary devotional love songs as well. 

Leading voices for personal transformation and global responsibility addressed essential human unity against the backdrop of religious strife and hostility. A new dialogue was opened to introduce and explore the gentle path of Sufism found within moderate Islam and celebrate the common threads of hope and beauty that are at the foundation of the Abrahamic Religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The Sufi perspective places emphasis the unifying message of these great faith traditions – wisdom, love, compassion and harmony. The plenary keynote address was delivered by Jonathan Granoff, Esq., President of the global Security Institute and respected advocate for world peace, who spoke on the principles of essential unity and the common wealth entrusted to humankind.

Professor Ashok Gangadean, Ph.D., introduced Deep Dialogue as a means to establish authentic communication and shared understanding between individuals and groups, with a focus on the Semitic great faith traditions. He lead the principal session in deep dialogue with Imam Muhammad Abdur-Razzaq of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, Rabbi Marcia Prager of Temple P’nai Or and the Rev. Hank Galganowicz of Holy Innocents St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The divergent streams of religious thought were traced back to a common source, the well-spring that forms the spiritual ground of being for all humanity, the panel sought to establish a position of a priori understanding from which to seek a broader unity with our fellow man. The experience helped people to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity of spiritual expression that informs our lives in so many ways, enriching our community, and furthering efforts to create inner as well as outer peace.

Los Angeles based author and noted spiritual teacher, Dr. Kabir Helminski addressed the need for conscious social and political transformation through the awakened human heart. Helminski and his wife Camille, lead a “Zikr” (remembrance of God ceremony) adapted for a western audience’s participation. A deeply moving performance of turning by the “Whirling Dervishes” transported the audience to the mystic realms of ancient Anatolia.

Celebrated artist and author, Michael Green was on hand for the exciting book release and signing of "One Song," the long awaited sequel to "The Illuminated Rumi", a New York Times top-ten best seller.

Noted poet, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore read (and performed) from his new books "Mars and Beyond", and "Laughing Buddha Weeping Sufi."

An open bazaar offered original paintings and artwork by Amira Dvorah and Michael Green, rugs and tapestries from Kashmir Dream, books of the authors by Barnes and Noble, CDs by the musical artists, handcrafts by Ayesha, with gourmet vegetarian/kosher Chinese food, by Singapore Restaurant served throughout the event as well.

Voices from the Well of Peace will become an annual event that highlights and celebrates the resonance of the divine found within each of the world's religions and sacred traditions.

View the slide show of the event

"Rumi - Turning Ecstatic"
Independent Film

PSALM supported the production of this docu-drama by actress/producer Tina Petrova, and producer Steven Roloff for Vision TV, by funding the work produced by VirtuaLux Digital Studio.

The film was broadcast by the Canadian Broacast Corporation, and is now in international distribution and is available on DVD.

VirtuaLux designed the film's widely acclaimed website, www.rumi-turningecstatic.com, provided graphic design and artwork, and produced and recorded original music for the film soundtrack.


PSALM hosted a gala Benefit Concert in November 2004 at St. Martin in the Fields Church in Chestnut hill, Pennsylvania. The theme for the evening was "Let Beauty Now Be What We Do." Music from around the world was enjoyed by one and all.

"Congratulations and thanks for such a wonderful event. I feel very blessed to have heard some of the best and most moving music I've ever heard in my life. The food and everything else was superb."

View the slide show of the event


"Holy War"

A Recitation with Music of René Daumal's Prose-Poem of 1940, followed by audience discussion.

Priscilla Smith, Roger Lipsey, Chris Wertenbaker, Dolphi Wertenbaker and Jeff Greene presented the greatest modern expression of the ancient idea of internal, holy war - the "unseen warfare" that many traditions regard as the surest basis for peace at Haverford College on December 10th, 2005.

Rene Daumal, best known for his allegorical novel of spiritual search "Mount Analogue", wrote this prose poem during the second world war, describing the inner struggle towards consciousness and conscience which is the true meaning of holy war.

Roger Lipsey, a noted author, introduced the poem and placed it in the context of the spiritual tradition - Jewish, Christian and Islamic - of holy war. Priscilla Smith, an actress who starred in the pioneering productions of the director Andrei Serban and more recently has taught acting at Columbia University, recited the poem. Accompanying her with music was Chris Wertenbaker on the oud, the Middle Eastern lute, and Jeff Greene on several middle eastern instruments. Dolphi Wertenbaker, trained in Indian dance and rhythm, is the ensemble's drummer, and expressed the beginning of the poem using movement and mudras. Following the presentation, Jamey Reilly and James George moderated a conversation between the audience and the participants.

Co-sponsored by PSALM, the Gurdjieff Foundation and the Global Dialogue Institute of Haverford College.

PSALM also sponsors and hosts the "Common Ground Interfaith Community Choir", which is open to all who wish to raise their voices in joy and celebration of the spirit. Rehearsals meet most Tuesdays at 7:30 PM. The choir performs publicly and in service to the community on a regular basis. Call Common Ground at 610-526-2020 for specific information.

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Piano composition, "First Love" © 2004 and courtesy of Bob Gold Music

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