Choreographer, MOMIX Founder Moses Pendleton Headlines Honorees at University's 132nd Commencement

Pendleton, the late arts advocate Peggy Amsterdam and former Settlement Music School Executive Director Robert Capanna to receive Honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts

April 14, 2010

Famed choreographer and MOMIX dance company founder Moses Pendleton (below) will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts (HDFA) and deliver the keynote address to the nearly 500 members of the class of 2010 from the University of the Arts at the school's 132nd commencement May 20 at the Academy of Music.

Former president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Peggy Amsterdam, who passed away on December 26, 2009, after battling cancer, will receive an HDFA posthumously, and Robert Capanna '73 (Composition), the recently retired executive director of the Settlement Music School, will also be honored with an HDFA.

Pendleton is one of America's most innovative and widely performed choreographers and directors. A founding member of the groundbreaking Pilobolus Dance Theater in 1971, he formed MOMIX in the early 1980s. After more than 20 years, MOMIX has become widely known for conjuring up worlds consisting of inventive, surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor and the human body. Pendleton has worked extensively in film, television and opera, and as a choreographer for ballet companies and special events. A Guggenheim Fellow in 1977, Pendleton earned the 2002 American Choreography Award for his contributions to choreography for film and television, and received the 1999 Positano Choreographic Award and 1998 Connecticut Commission on the Arts Governor’s Award. MOMIX closes the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center's "Dance Celebration" season with its latest work, "Botanica," May 20 – 23.

As president of the Cultural Alliance, Amsterdam established a new vision for the organization, focusing on arts and culture as a unifying force for the region. Under her direction, the Cultural Alliance doubled its membership to 385 arts and cultural nonprofits and greatly expanded its reach to the broader community. Among her proudest accomplishments were preventing the elimination of Philadelphia’s cultural funding in 2004; the release of several major research reports on the cultural sector and its impact on the region; and the launch of Engage 2020, a $6.3 million research and marketing initiative to double Greater Philadelphia’s cultural participation. In 2008, Amsterdam worked with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to re-establish the City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. Most recently, she led a statewide coalition to defeat a proposed "arts tax" that would have expanded the state sales tax to include cultural organizations.

After nearly three decades, Capanna recently retired as the executive director of Philadelphia's Settlement Music School, the largest community school of the arts in the United States. As executive director, Capanna oversaw the expansion of the school from three to six locations that serve more than 9,000 students on-site and 6,000 students off-site. An active and widely respected composer, Capanna has had his work performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Orchestra 2001, Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, Mendelssohn Quartet, and in numerous chamber music and broadcast series. Capanna is president of the Presser Foundation, chair of the Music Panel and Planning Committee of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and past president of the Musical Fund Society and Musical Fund Society Foundation.

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