Skip to Main Content

Darin Atwater’s Black Metropolis

Press Release


Composer Darin Atwater improvises on his 2007 body of work ‘Paint Factory’ for the Mann stage with The Philadelphia Orchestra & Chill Moody, Support provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 6, 2023) – In celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Chill Moody, West Philadelphia rapper, entrepreneur and the Mann’s 2023 Artist-in-Residence, will perform Black Metropolis by composer Darin Atwater at the TD Pavilion at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on July 19. This one-of-a-kind composition commissioned by the Mann and supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage explores the pillars of hip-hop and Black culture through an architecture of sound.

Black Metropolis is a multi-layered experience exploring classical music, hip-hop, spoken word, dance, and visual art. At its core, it is a celebration of hip-hop as a unifying force through a lens of respect and hope. Led by conductor Lina González-Granados, each movement will represent a color and a corresponding message, offering the audience a symphonic masterpiece of sound, sight, and thought.

“Black Metropolis looks at the way in which culture is constructed through music,” said Atwater. “It creates a musical language connected to the social movements and sonic atmosphere of our time. Interweaving a dramatic narrative – from scenes of modern urban culture, to red-as-fire-no-nonsense sermonizing from a prophetic protagonist – the tragic and heroic testify in ecstatic celebration of hip-hop and Black culture. Music, poetry and dance have coalesced into what I hope to be a transformative act that instills a sense of joy, redemption, elegance and dignity.”

“The Mann Center’s commissioning of Black Metropolis and our collaboration with critically acclaimed composer Darin Atwater is work we are incredibly proud of. We are honored to be presenting it this season, amidst the world celebration of hip-hop’s 50th Anniversary,” said Catherine M. Cahill, President and CEO of the Mann. “It both lifts up the influential history of hip-hop music and culture and also deepens the Mann’s ongoing commitment to programming that represents varied genres of music. Not only will Black Metropolis feature local artists, dancers and rappers, we are pleased to offer free admission to Black Metropolis thanks to generous support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.”

Atwater has pulled inspiration for Black Metropolis from his piece Paint Factory, which first premiered in 2007 with Atwater’s Soulful Symphony, a 75-member orchestra featuring predominantly people of color. While many of the themes will remain the same in this newly-adapted iteration, Black Metropolis is an entirely new work in partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Mann’s inaugural Community Artist-in-Residence, Chill Moody.

“It’s an honor to work with Darin on this piece,” said Moody, who as the Artist-in-Residence is contributing to the Mann’s arts and education programming throughout 2023. “Working with so many talented visual artists, dancers and musicians to bring this ambitious work to life has been a joy. This comprehensive piece is not possible without them, or without the trust and support of the Mann and The Philadelphia Orchestra.”

For more information about the Mann or to register for a free Black Metropolis ticket, visit

Major support for Black Metropolis has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

About the Mann Center for the Performing Arts
As one of the foremost outdoor music centers in the country, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, a leading non-profit organization, has a historical legacy of artistic excellence as a world-class entertainment destination presenting premier artists, now in association with Live Nation Entertainment. Each summer season, renowned symphony orchestras, iconic rock stars, and the latest touring artists in indie rock, hip hop, R&B, and pop take the stage here. The Mann is the summer home of The Philadelphia Orchestra and has presented critically acclaimed performers every decade since the 1930s. Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the Mann hosts more than 300,000 visitors annually. Signature concert experiences are surrounded by Philadelphia’s stunning skyline and include seats beneath the Mann’s acoustically acclaimed TD Pavilion; picnics, blankets, and music under the stars on its Great Lawn or at the top of the hill at the Skyline Stage; and dining in Crescendo, the venue’s spectacular tented restaurant. In addition, the Mann’s Education & Community Engagement Program reaches tens of thousands of young people annually through free programming and educational initiatives as well as its virtual Mann Music Room. For more information, visit   

About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage 
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.

# # #