Eastport Arts Center welcomes the Potland-based Palaver Strings on Sunday, November 10 at 3 pm for Welcome Home, a program which celebrates the vitality of Maine’s immigrant communities through music and storytelling. In partnership with the Immigrant Welcome Center of Greater Portland (IWC), this program will be performed in Portland and 8 Maine locations, with the goal of exposing rural Maine communities to the experiences of new immigrant families, celebrating Maine’s cultural diversity, and encouraging audiences to reflect on their own heritage and how to make Maine a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.
Welcome Home includes three segments, each centered around a significant immigrant and/or diaspora community in Maine: French-Canadian, Iraqi, and Burundian and Rwandan. Each segment features storytelling and musical performances by guest artists from these communities, including original songs and music with cultural significance.
Guest artists include Iraqi speaker and poet, Kifah Abdulla and Iraqi oud player, Jawad Nageeb, Burundian singer, Maisha Mustafa, and French-Canadian trad musicians, Alex Wilder and Jaige Trudell. Palaver Strings will host the evening and accompany the guest artists, using original arrangements by members of the orchestra. Audience members will be encouraged to engage with a visual art installation, adding their own reflections about heritage, immigration law, and the current political climate in Maine and the wider world. This installation will serve as valuable documentation of the program itself and the communities’ experience of these issues. Through multi-disciplinary collaboration, Welcome Home will bring together artists and audiences who might not otherwise interact, center underrepresented voices, and create a memorable experience for everyone involved.
“As we tour with this program around Maine, we will celebrate Maine’s cultural diversity, reflect on our own histories, and create space for dialogue between performers and listeners from different backgrounds,” noted Maya French, Palaver’s Managing Director and Co-Artistic Director. “We believe deep listening and empathy for unfamiliar experiences is an important part of making Maine a safe and inclusive home for everyone.”
Palaver Strings is a 13 person, musician-led string orchestra and nonprofit whose mission is rooted in community and creative programming. Through innovative performance, educational workshops, and community engagement initiatives, Palaver reaches diverse audiences throughout New England and beyond. Recent projects include a concert at the Kennedy Center, string lessons for low-income students, and songwriting workshops for LGBTQ seniors. The majority of Palaver’s audience members, students, and workshop participants come from Maine and Massachusetts. With the support of local partner organizations, Palaver will formally begin a performance residency and open the Palaver Music Center (PMC), a community music school in Portland, ME, in 2019.
Tickets are $15; special benefactor tickets are available for $20. Attendees 17 and under will be admitted free of charge. Tickets may be purchased via the EAC site, eastportartscenter.org, or at the door prior to the event. Eastport Arts Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, and is fully handicapped-accessible.