Kevin and Michael Bacon are coming home this weekend to host the 157th Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball. The brothers will emcee the event, which features singer Jill Scott performing with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra and keyboardists Robert Glasper and Stewart Goodyear. After the gala, the Bacon Brothers will perform a set at the Ballroom at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Born nine years apart, the brothers — actor Kevin and film/TV composer Michael — grew up in Center City, making the Academy a familiar landmark.
Do you have memories of the Academy of Music?
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Michael Bacon: Our parents really valued creativity, and encouraged music lessons, art lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons — anything you can think of. Since I leaned towards music, my mother would take me to the Academy all the time. The Academy Ball was a big part of our parents’ social life, so it’s really nice to get back to that after all these years.
Kevin Bacon: I have a very strong memory of seeing Ravi Shankar play at the Academy in the '60s, when he was having his big rock and roll crossover success. I didn’t play classical music, so I didn’t have the direct connection to it that my brother does, and I don’t know that my mother ever took me there. But then, she always liked Michael best [Laughs].
Is performing as the Bacon Brothers a different kind of creative outlet for both of you?
MB: It’s what I was always doing, but I think for Kevin it was like jumping off a cliff. I don’t think either of us ever expected it to go on as long as it has and grow and change.
KB: One thing about being an actor is that you’re so often putting yourself in someone else’s hands. The nice thing about the band is that we have complete control. It’s riskier and in some ways harder, but challenges are really what being a creative person is about.
What’s special about playing music with your brother?
MB: I think there’s a connection that people who aren’t brothers don’t have. You’re going to be together for the rest of your lives, so that makes a connection of trust and a similar aesthetic. Even though we’re very different people and musicians, we still have a core common ground that’s always there.
KB: We have similar musical tastes, but there’s enough creative tension that there’s an organic fluctuation in the way that we approach music. Michael talks about his connection to the Academy being so strong because he was a classical musician since he was a little boy, and all I listened to was AM radio. You can hear those two influences co-existing in the band.
Is it important for you to appear at events like this that support the arts?
MB: Institutions like the Philadelphia Orchestra need to survive. I’ll do anything I can to help an arts organization stay in the game, because we would miss institutions like this if they disappeared, and they’re definitely threatened.
KB: I agree with Mike. Art is our bread and butter. The arts are what keep us sane in a lot of ways, and they’ve been very good to us.
157th Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball
Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.
Academy of Music
Broad and Locust streets