Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich to Inaugurate City of Asylum @ Alphabet City at Grand Opening

City of Asylum @ Alphabet City Celebrates Grand Opening with Month of Free Jazz Poetry Events


PITTSBURGH, PA — – August 1st, 2016 — After months of preparation and anticipation, City of Asylum is moving into its new permanent home, City of Asylum @ Alphabet City–formerly the site of the historic Masonic Building, located on the Garden Theater block of Pittsburgh’s Northside. To mark this momentous occasion, City of Asylum is hosting a public Grand Opening event on September 10th with  Guest of Honor 2015 Nobel Laureate in Literature Svetlana Alexievich. After delivering the “Inaugural Address” to launch City of Asylum @ Alphabet City, Alexievich will engage in a public interview and conversation with New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch.

The Grand Opening ceremonies will be followed by a month of free Jazz Poetry events, an expansion of their popular annual Jazz Poetry Festival programming. Jazz Poetry Month will feature American jazz musicians as well as poets from around the world performing both together and individually.  The month-long festival commences with a performance by saxophonist and poet Oliver Lake on September 15th, 2016 and will feature weekly jazz and poetry events until October 9th, 2016.  The new acoustically-tuned performance space promises to be an ideal venue in which to showcase the work of international poets whose work has been censored or banned in their homelands.

“The expansion of our Jazz Poetry Festival at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City will provide more opportunity to international artists and local audiences alike.” said Silvia Duarte, City of Asylum’s Assistant Director.  “This is a perfect way to inaugurate this fantastic space and celebrate all together: Pittsburghers, local legends and international performers.”

Featured musical performers of this series include local jazz favorite, Roger Humphries, recent City of Asylum artists-in-residence Thumbscrew, and international jazz sensation Jack Sooäär. Spoken word performers include nationally renowned poet Richard Blanco (who read at Barack Obama’s second inauguration), Yona Harvey (known most recently for her collaboration with Marvel Comics), and ICORN exiled writer-in-residence at City of Asylum Tuhin Das. (A complete list of performers is included as part of our press kit below.)  As with all City of Asylum events, festival performances will be free and open to the public. Guests are encouraged to register for each event online at AlphabetCity.org to reserve their seat.  

The $12.5 million City of Asylum @ Alphabet City project is the culmination of eight years of work and determination on the part of City of Asylum. The new venue promises to bring together a diverse community of both local and international artists, musicians and writers.  The renovated Masonic building will feature a specialty bookstore (City of Asylum Books @ Alphabet City) and a unique cheese and wine restaurant (Casellula Wine & Cheese Cafe). Guests at the Grand Opening events will have a chance to preview the restaurant and other features of this new venue.    

Since 2004, City of Asylum has provided sanctuary for exiled writers endangered in their native lands.  Building on that mission, City of Asylum has grown into a dynamic arts organization that has showcased over 300 writers, artists and musicians from 63 different countries. In 2015 it presented over 50 programs to diverse audiences of over 5,000 people. City of Asylum’s hallmark is accessibility and diversity, and all performances are free to the public. The new permanent Northside venue will contribute to bolstering this mission as City of Asylum enters this new chapter at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City.  



For more information, contact:

Ayne Terceira

City Of Asylum




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