“What’s a place I love in Maine? School. But actually – it’s more about the people I love, not a place. The diversity…my friends are from Vietnam, Angola, Congo, Nambia, Burundi, Rwanda, Iraq, Egypt, Americans – yeh – people from here…oh, and South Africans.”
Alain Igiraneza, Burundi Mainer
A program of music and stories from Maine’s immigrant communities.
In a seven city tour of Maine, Welcome Home celebrates the vitality of Maine’s immigrant communities through music and storytelling. This project was created by Palaver Strings, a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization based in Portland, ME that works to strengthen and inspire community through music. Art At Work Executive & Artistic Director Marty Pottenger served as the theatrical director for this project / concert, collaborating with guest artists of Franco-American, Burundian, and Iraqi heritage to help them share traditional music and personal stories of their families’ journeys to Maine.
Palaver Strings, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, and Portland Ovations joined together to create a workshop facilitated by Marty Pottenger / Art At Work where audience members could hear stories of courage, resilience, travel, and transition from three of Maine’s immigrant communities. Guests were invited to share their own experiences and how and why they call Portland home. The afternoon was a kick off for Welcome Home.
The statewide concert tour premiered in Portland at Port City Music Hall on November 14, 2019 at 7pm and featured Welcome Home speakers Kifah Abdulla, Alain Iginareza, and Rhea Côté-Robbins, as well as musicians from Palaver Strings.
From Palaver Strings:
“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. We believe deep listening and empathy for unfamiliar experiences is an important part of making Maine a safe and inclusive home for everyone.”
About Palaver Strings
Palaver Strings is a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization based in Portland, ME. Founded in 2014, Palaver has established itself as a forward-thinking ensemble whose mission is rooted in community and creative programming. 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 currently enjoys a residency at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, MA, served as Ensemble in Residence at the Boston Center for the Arts from 2017-2019, and continues a longstanding residency at Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, ME. Since 2019, Palaver’s musicians have been proud to call Portland home, producing over 20 concerts a year in the Portland area and offering quality music education through the Palaver Music Center.
Iraqi Folk Songs arranged for Strings and Oud
Burundian Traditional Songs arranged for Strings, Drums and Voice
Franco-American Tunes arranged for Strings, Solo Fiddle and Piano