BAR HARBOR — Iraqi poet Kifah Abdulla, Burundian singer Maisha Mustafa and Guinean percussionist Namory Keita hail from Maine’s more recently immigrant communities. They and other guest artists will join Portland’s Palaver Strings for a “Welcome Home” performance at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Criterion Theatre.
A traveling show that is being performed at seven Maine locations, “Welcome Home” is a joint initiative between Palaver Strings, Portland Ovations and the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.
Palaver Strings is a 13-person, musician-led string orchestra and nonprofit organization. The group is described as a forward-thinking ensemble whose mission is rooted in community and creative programming.
The “Welcome Home” performance’s aim is to share with rural Maine communities the experiences of new immigrant families, celebrate Maine’s cultural diversity and encouraging audiences to reflect on their own heritage and on how to make the state a welcoming and inclusive community for all.
“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 welcoming and inclusive home for everyone.”
“Welcome Home” has three segments, each centered around a significant Maine immigrant and/or diaspora community including Franco-American, Iraqi and Burundian. Each segment features storytelling and musical performances by guest artists from these communities. Other guest artists include Iraqi oud player Jawad Nageeb, Burundian speaker Alain Igiraneza, Franco-American author Rhea Coté Robbins, Franco-American trad musicians Alex Wilder and Jaige Trudell and director Marty Pottenger.
Palaver reaches diverse audiences throughout New England and beyond. Recent projects include a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and songwriting workshops for new mothers and LGBTQ seniors. With the support of local partner organizations, Palaver has recently launched the Palaver Music Center (PMC), a community music school in Portland.
“We feel honored to be part of this statewide performance project. We believe that art like this can illuminate the value in diversity, inclusion and what it means to be a Mainer today,” said the Criterion Theatre’s Executive Director Amy Roeder.
General admission tickets cost $15 per person. Prices vary depending on seating. To reserve seats, call 288-0829.