Palaver Strings presents ‘Welcome Here’ in Farmington May 6

The Palaver Strings ensemble

FARMINGTON — ArtsFarmington will present Palaver Strings’ “Welcome Here” Friday, May 6, 7 p.m., at Nordica Auditorium, Merrill Hall, 224 Main Street, University of Maine at Farmington.

The Portland-based chamber orchestra’s “Welcome Here” is a touring production celebrating Maine’s cultural diversity, resilience and stewardship. This multidisciplinary performance features guest artists of Congolese, Puerto Rican and Wabanaki heritage and is co-presented by the Abbe Museum, Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and Indigo Arts Alliance.

“Welcome Here” explores themes of motherland, mother tongue and mother love, interweaving stories of our relationship with the natural world, our cultural and linguistic traditions, and our dreams for the future generation of our grandchildren.

The presentation features Palaver Strings alongside storytellers Sherri Mitchell, Adele Ngoy and Blanca Santiago; guest musicians, Kaylee Kazadi, Tania Morey, Mbanza Gabriel Nienguesso, Zayra Pola, Lauren Stevens and Viva; and visual art by Pam Chévez. Sherri Mitchell also directs the storytelling portion of the program.

Palaver Strings is a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization based in Portland, whose mission is to strengthen and inspire community through music. Palaver’s musicians share artistic and administrative leadership, guided by a passion for engaging new audiences, addressing social justice issues, and amplifying underrepresented voices through classical music.

Palaver has toured widely throughout the United States, performing at the Kennedy Center and a celebration of the Lullaby Project at Carnegie Hall. The ensemble has enjoyed residencies at Rockport Music (2019-2020), Boston Center for the Arts (2017-2019), and Bay Chamber Concerts (ongoing). Each year, Palaver presents over 40 live performances featuring diverse musical programming, cross-genre projects, and community collaborations. Equally committed to education, Palaver offers music instruction to over 325 students per year through the Palaver Music Center in Portland.

The group takes “Palaver” from the term “palaver hut,” a traditional setting for discussion and conflict resolution found in Liberia and other West African countries. In their early days as an ensemble, Palaver gave benefit concerts for the Liberian Education Fund, an organization co-founded by their Managing Director Maya French. They are inspired by the concept of the palaver hut as they seek to come to creative agreement when they make music. This concept has remained central to their vision as they expand their outlook to other social causes.

Admission for this concert is $15 (more if you can, less if you can’t) at the door, and is free for ages 18 and under and for UMF students with ID, and $5 for other college students with ID. No one will be turned away. For online tickets and more information, visit ArtsFarmington’s website.

To keep all of us safe, mask use and proof of full vaccination are required. The number of attendees will be limited to allow social distancing.

Palaver Strings’ website has more information and videos from some of their concerts.

“Enjoy, and hope to see you on the 6th!” ArtsFarmington spokesperson Kait Frost said.

ArtsFarmington’s mission is to inspire, educate and entertain the community in Western Maine through involvement with arts events that appeal to all ages and interests. It is committed to adorability and community participation through memberships and sponsorships. They believe that diverse arts experiences and support of local artists give vitality to community life.

ArtsFarmington is an affiliate of the University of Maine at Farmington.

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