On Saturday morning, a string ensemble of Play On, Philly! Ambassadors provided musical accompaniment for Funeral for a Home. The Funeral for a Home event was held at 3711 Mellon Street in the Mantua section of Philadelphia, arranged by Temple Contemporary at Temple’s Tyler School of Art.
With the enthusiasm of a revival meeting, the event was opened by Pastor Harry Moore, Sr. of Mount Olive Baptist Church, reflecting on the purpose of this collaboration between Temple and local community groups. The event was a wake up call, Reverend Moore stated, “a collaborative effort, an authentic witness to the neighborhood where different groups have come together of one accord,” celebrating the lives of the homes and the potential for revitalization. Speaking of the recent federal designation of Mantua as a Promise Zone, Reverend Moore declared, “This is the start of affordable homes coming to this community.”
The two story white row house was draped in an enormous festoon of flowers and black crepe which wafted lightly in the breeze. After Reverend Moore gave the final, passionate eulogy, the huge claw of a waiting demolition truck gently plucked the festoon of flowers from the house and laid them in a “coffin” aboard a flatbed truck.
A funeral procession then followed. All the attendees of the funeral and the Mt. Olive Baptist Church Choir followed the truck and coffin down Mellon Street and around the block, passing vacant lots decorated with funeral wreaths that marked the places where other properties had been torn down.
Halfway along the procession route, the cortege stopped before the Urban Peace Garden where the POP Ambassadors waited. The crowd moved in closely to hear a beautiful and soulful performance of “Amazing Grace.” The POP Ambassadors are recent graduates of the POP musical initiative program. Cellist Anjelica Rooks, 15, is now a sophomore at Monsignor Bonner High School.
“It’s a funeral,” Anjelica said, “music sets the mood.” Anjelica felt that it was “really great” to be part of a community event because “music interacts with certain things and it motivates the community to see young people participating.”
Anjelica has recently been awarded a Marian Anderson Young Artist Study Grant in the amount of $2,500. She plans to buy a new cello and pay for private lessons at Settlement Music School.