Photo credit: Remy Archer

Abram Wilson initiated The Philippa Project in 2011, when he composed and toured music based on the extraordinary life of the prodigal mixed-race pianist, composer and journalist, Philippa Duke Schuyler.

Born in 1931 as an experiment in miscegenation into a sizzling, jazz-age Harlem, Philippa was a prodigal, mixed-race concert-pianist, composer and journalist. She was the first mixed-race star to grace the cover of TIME magazine, and she performed for queens and presidents, but with her sudden passing, Philippa’s story was lost.

Abram had joined forces with award winning multi-disciplinary director, Pia Furtado and received funding from Arts Council England to develop The Philippa Project into a music theatre production.

An incredibly talented artist, Pia works across theatrical disciplines specialising in new work, Shakespeare, verse, dramaturgy and forms that involve music. She has received critical acclaim for a range of productions including Werther (Scottish Opera), L'Elisir D'Amore (Opera Holland Park) and most recently Dirty Great Love Story which transferred to the West End in 2017.

We’ve been privileged to have Pia work with the Abram Wilson Foundation as a director, writer, and workshop leader since we first established in 2012. Together we plan to see this music-theatre project through to a fully staged production, bringing Philippa's extraordinary story and Abram's music to life, whilst providing career development opportunities for talented up and coming musicians.

Between 2014 and 2016 we have delivered 26 days of research and development workshops including script and music development, and worked with 16 artists including 7 emerging musicians.

Our development workshops have been supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and the PRS for Music Foundation.

‘I was so impressed by how much ground you was really fascinating and so interesting to see how you’re finding your way around the story. Pia described that process brilliantly and really helped to unpack for the audience how that development works and what kinds of things you think about.’ - Shonagh Manson, Director, Jerwood Charitable Foundation




Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts gratefully acknowledges support from PRS for Music Foundation.