Investing in the musical life and legacy of Philadelphia

MFS Bicentennial: 1820 – 2020

The Musical Fund Society celebrated its bicentennial in 2020 with four newly commissioned works by the eminent American composers Stephen Jaffe, Tania Leon, Augusta Read Thomas, and Roberto Sierra.

These nationally-recognized composers, commissioned jointly by the Musical Fund Society and the Edward G. McCollin Fund, were asked to write works based in some way on the rich history of Philadelphia; the works would be performed by four superb Philadelphia-based ensembles.

The world premieres of these works – delayed for two years due to COVID – took place on May 1, 2022 at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. The program included:

Roberto Sierra: Graffiti II
premiered by PRISM Saxophone Quartet

Tania León: In the Field with Spanish and English text by Carlos Pintado
premiered by Curtis’ Ensemble 20/21 with mezzo-soprano Sarah Fleiss (performance delayed to Feb. 11, 2023)

Stephen Jaffe: Three Arcs (Chamber Concerto #5) for Strings, Harp, & Guitar
premiered by the Network for New Music Ensemble, Pennsylvania Girlchoir and Garden State Girlchoir Chamber Choir

Augusta Read Thomas: Magic Gardens
premiered by Rolston String Quartet (Astral Artists Laureate)

For the event, MFS produced an extensive program book featuring concert information, a complete roster of MFS members since 1820, and articles on aspects of MFS’s long history by former Board members Peter Burwasser and Gary Galván. In addition to the concert, MFS’s 200-year history was honored with special year-long exhibits of MFS historical narratives and memorabilia—including the manuscript of the Bartok third string quartet and a lock of hair from Niccolo Paganini—at the Kislak Center in the University of Pennsylvania Library and at the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of The Free Library of Philadelphia.

These Bicentennial celebratory events highlighted the Society’s rich musical legacy and its continued role in promoting, supporting and encouraging vital opportunities to deserving composers, outstanding performing artists, and regional audiences.

You can read more about the MFS Bicentennial in these publications:

The Philadelphia Inquirer:
What does Philadelphia sound like? Here’s what four composers came up with

(April 30, 2022)

Opera Wire:
Musical Society Fund of Philadelphia to Present Four World Premieres in 200th Anniversary Concert

(April 2, 2022)

Broad Street Review:
PCMS presents the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia’s 200th Anniversary Concert

(May 3, 2022)

The Classical Post:
Musical Fund Society and Stephen Jaffe Team Up for the Creation of Three Arcs (Chamber Concerto no. 5)


Tania León’s Wheat in the Fields – World Premiere at the Musical Fund Society’s Bicentennial Celebration


Solitude, Practice, and Lots of Coffee: How Roberto Sierra Fosters His Successful Career with Balance


Augusta Read Thomas Sings and Dances Her Way to New Musical Mosaics