Celebrate FirstWorks 10th anniversary where they will be bringing performances from Australia, Italy, Morocco, Mali, and now Rhode Island. All performances are free and located in Greater Kennedy Plaza.
The FirstWorks Urban Carnevale turns all eyes to the night sky with Australia’s Strange Fruit, a troupe of daredevils suspended high above the crowd within illuminated globes; fires up the night with ancient rhythms and wild dance by Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, new generation masters of southern Italy; and introduces the exotic gypsy spirit of Morocco with the funk/jazz blend of Ribab Fusion, the Berber culture’s one-string answer to the legacy of Jimi Hendrix. This not-to-be-missed party also features a rare North American appearance by charismatic Malian singing sensation Oumou Sangaré (presented in collaboration with Providence’s Afrika Nyaga 6th Annual Festival); and 100 voices joining in a preview of RPM Voices’ RI-Sounding Voices, a harmonic convergence of choruses from across Rhode Island.
Audiences will feast their eyes on visual arts from Providence’s The Avenue Concept, a top emerging arts organization marrying public art and civic concerns, watch Tape Art transform a building facade, express their deepest hopes and dreams in a pre-Carnevale creative and spiritual ritual with The Providence Peace Flags Project, and marvel at FirstWorks Rising Stars, young virtuosos performing their cultural traditions.
Australia’s Strange Fruit: Australia’s Strange Fruit fuses theater, dance and circus in performances that have amazed over 5 million people at prestigious events in more than 50 countries around the world, including the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. Suspended above the crowd on 15-foot poles, the artists in “Spheres” become celestial beings, emerging from and rising above giant, illuminated globes in a cosmic, whimsical and awe-inspiring performance.
Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino: Exploding with energy, passion, rhythm, and mystery, the seven-piece band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino is Italy’s top act on the international world music circuit. These new-generation masters bring 21st-century life to the beautiful folk music of Italy’s past, passionately performing both tender love songs and the frenzied dance, pizzica tarantata – hurtling six-beat rhythms and songs that were used in ancient, ecstatic healing rituals to cure the bite of the tarantula.
Morocco’s Ribab Fusion: Joyful and magnetic, the Ribab Fusion ensemble celebrates Morocco’s “Amazigh” (Berber) culture – flying from ‘70s-style funk to Afropop dance vibes, from slow jams to high energy call and response choruses. The “ribab”, a one-stringed bowed instrument, weaves this madcap sonic diversity together with sounds that are sometimes gritty, and sometimes soothing as a well played saxophone. Celebrate FirstWorks’ 10th anniversary with Ribab Fusion’s technically superb jazzy mix and sounds from another world.
RI-Sounding Voices: RPM Voices will lead and direct RI-Sounding Voices, a statewide chorus that joins together choruses from across the Ocean State – and Rhode Islanders who just like to sing – in a unique musical melting pot of voices. RPM Voices will preview ONE VOICE, a new work to be premiered the next FirstWorks Festival on the Plaza (June 2015), together as one choral unit that embodies the state’s vast diversity.
Oumou Sangaré: Oumou Sangaré is a Grammy Award-winning musician and the charismatic diva of West African music, Mali’s great diva, champion of women’s rights, and one of the world’s most astounding female voices. Sangaré kono—Sangaré the Songbird. This is how Oumou Sangaré describes herself when she sings her powerful songs that strike deep in the heart. In Mali, to call oneself a “songbird” is a special privilege of musicians who come from the southern region known as Wasulu. A songbird (kono) uses music to challenge and comment on life as it really is. And no one does this quite like Sangaré the Songbird.
Connect with Providence’s Creative Community!: In addition to enjoying our international guest artists, audiences will feast their eyes on visual arts from Providence’s The Avenue Concept, a top emerging arts organization marrying public art and civic concerns, watch Tape Art transform a building facade, express their deepest hopes and dreams in a pre-Carnevale creative and spiritual ritual with The Providence Peace Flags Project, and marvel at FirstWorks Rising Stars, young virtuosos performing their cultural traditions.
About FirstWorks: FirstWorks presents world-class performing arts programs that build the cultural, educational and economic vitality of our community. Launched in 2004 through a public/private partnership with Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, FirstWorks has grown into a multidimensional arts organization recognized with 17 National Endowment for the Arts grants. In fall 2012, FirstWorks presented the FirstWorks Festival: On the Plaza, leading a consortium of 18 organizations to create an event that drew 40,000 people into downtown Providence. In July 2013, the City of Providence and FirstWorks were named recipients of a second NEA Our Town grant to support a community design effort to create a cultural corridor in downtown Providence along Washington Street, and to establish the FirstWorks Festival: On the Plaza as a biennial signature event in Providence.